TRADE RUMOR TRAFFIC: Mavs Deadline Live
Mavs talking to Cavs on Deng - feb 20
The Mavs' pursuit of the Cavs' Luol Deng -- as unlikely as all such deals are -- is very real. It is born in part out of Dallas' confidence (cockiness?) that Dirk and The Triangle of Trust will be unbeatably persuasive this summer when Deng is free to shop his services around the league.
But as the 2 p.m. (Dallas time) deadline approaches ... how persuasive can the Mavs be when it comes to the Cavs?
Cleveland is not bailing out on the season, it seems, as its deadline-pickup of center Spencer Hawes would demonstrate. But the Cavs are well-aware of the possibility that Deng will not re-up with them this summer -- even though he would be eligible for a five-year deal (worth as much as $110 mil if Cleveland opts to go that direction).
Meanwhile, Deng could only get a four-year deal (worth up to $86 mil total) if he bolts from Cleveland (for Dallas or anywhere else).
In the middle of this, a quote from an NBA source: "Cleveland's kind of a mess right now. They don't know if they are buyers or sellers.''
Maybe, the Dallas Mavericks hope, they are both.
Buyers on Hawes. And sellers on Deng.
The Cavs' actions are being overseen by acting general manager David Griffin, who takes over from the fired Chris Grant. Since that move, the Cavs have won five straight and at 21-33 can now fun for the eighth spot in the East playoffs.
The Mavs and Cavs have talked in recent hours, we are told. Deng's name is among those broached. The reality of where the talks will likely go? Said one source:
"Dallas would love Deng but the price hasn't been right.''
There is plenty to love. Deng is 6-9, a two-time All-Star with a worker-bee reputation and 19 points and seven rebounds per game to offer. At 28, he's not an "heir'' to Dirk -- but depending on what Dallas forfeits in a deal, he makes the Mavs better now ... and better in 2014 and beyond, assuming he re-ups here.
The Mavs will have that big money available (which is not the same as us saying Deng will merit the max-max, though it can be argued that it's time to overpay for a true All-Star). As we've noted before, if Dallas doesn't get him now, it can/will bid on him in the summer. ... and can have an edge over Cleveland assuming the Cavs don't trade him elsewhere today.
The upside as the deadline clock ticks: There is Mavs love for Deng. The downside: While the talks continue, there may be a lack of traction in those talks.
D-Lord: My 4 Mavs trades I'd pursue NOW feb 20
In the financial planning business, my mentor years ago taught me a valuable lesson: the smartest way to find new business is to look for "money on the move" – in other words, spend time on investors who are otherwise already looking for a solution.
In the NBA world, a similar truth applies when it comes to trades: the best possibilities involve teams who are talking and players who are already being offered. Look for open doors, and shop there.
So, if I owned the Dallas Mavericks on Trade Deadline Day in 2014, which "players on the move" would I target and what would I offer? Here's my top four.
1 Trade with Cleveland for Anderson Varejao
The Offer: Dallas trades Brandan Wright and Wayne Ellington for Anderson Varejao and C J Miles.
Why do this?
A - Add a legitimate center to pair with Dalembert. Varejao's strengths are his rebounding, energy, and ability to contribute on both ends. His downside is that he tends to get injured with some frequency and he's older than Wright, but the ability to pair him with Dalembert would lessen the risk if he's injured and might also lessen the chance that he gets injured in the first place (a' la Chandler and Haywood).
B – Varejao's contract does not end until the summer of 2015, and the difference between the contracts of Wright and Ellis for 2014-15 and that of Varejao would only be about $2M. In essence, this deal would allow the Mavs to get that second center for $2M of summer cap room and allocate their summer spending room elsewhere. Signing Dirk for the expected $10-12M would still leave the team with $18-19M in spendable cap room, with only the SF position in need of serious attention.
C – The swap of Ellington and Miles is largely for trade-matching and roster-balancing reasons, but there may be a side benefit. Ellington is talented, but underused in Dallas and has yet to find a role in which he can make a contribution. Miles can be a better shooter off the bench, a useful piece in a playoff run.
For more detail, including why it might make sense for the Cavs, see here.
2 Trade with Houston for Omer Asik
The Offer: (a) Dallas trades Brandan Wright and Bernard James for Omer Asik and Greg Smith, or (b) in a 3-way deal, Dallas trades Brandan Wright to Philly and Wayne Ellington to Houston, with Omer Asik going to Dallas and Spencer Hawes going to Houston.
Why do this?
A - Add a legitimate center to pair with Dalembert. Asik's strengths are his rebounding and defense. His downside is that he is very limited on offense, with almost no ability to score other than via dunks, tip ins, and layups, and he's not good on free throws if he's fouled. Wright has played well, but you have to give to get, and Asik would offer skills that the Mavs need and that Wright lacks.
B – Asik's contract does not end until the summer of 2015, and either version of this deal would allow the Mavs to add that second center for much less than it would cost to keep the existing contracts and sign someone in the summer. In the 2-way version, Asik's addition would only expend $3.375M in future spending room, and the 3-way version only uses up $0.723M. As a result, there would be more ability to improve the team in other areas in the summer, leaving $17-20M of spending room untouched.
C – The inclusion of James and Smith would be for trade-matching and roster-balancing reasons. For Houston, the benefit is to provide a better complement to Dwight Howard in either Wright or Hawes. For Philly (if included), it allows them to move Hawes and get back value, without having to pay the huge contract for Asik, and leaves the "defensive center" minutes for their 2013 pick, Nerlens Noel.
See Fish's exclusive visits with Houston GM Daryl Morey and Dallas GM Donnie Nelson for more insight into what's going on regarding Asik.
3 Trade with Boston for Rajon Rondo
The Offer: Dallas trades Shane Larkin, Jose Calderon, and their 2020 1st round pick (top-3 protected only) for Rajon Rondo.
Why do this?
A – The Mavs need to upgrade their perimeter defense, and Rondo is one of the best. He's still only 27. His weakness is his outside shooting, and since his contract only lasts for one more year, there's some risk in that area as well.
B – Trading a virtually unprotected pick after Dirk will presumably have retired may be a high price, but this is a swap of future for present. The Celtics under Red Auerbach loved this kind of deal, storing away future value that had good odds of being a bonanza, and that intrigue may be enticing.
C – One of the stumbling blocks for Boston in finding a deal for Rondo has been that offers have come from teams where Rondo would not stay when his contract ends in 2015. That ended the discussions. While the Mavs' offer may not be better than those others, the Mavs offer them a team that could pull the trigger without backing away from worry over Rondo's choice in 2015.
For Boston, Larkin and Calderon would provide multiple benefits. They would fill the opening left by the departure of Rondo, and they have the potential to be assets for Boston in future deals as needed.
Has there ever been any real interest between Dallas and Boston here? Yup. Check out DB.com dating all the way back to June 29.
4 Trade Wayne Ellington to some team or another
Unlike the prior trade ideas, this one starts with an asset and looks for the right buyer. Why do this?
A – Ellington is talented, but underused in Dallas and has yet to find a role in which he can make a contribution.
B – Since he's not being used, there's no value in having Ellington's contract next season. If he's not used in a trade above, trading him away alone would either yield a player that is more useful next season or (if traded for an expiring contract) added summer spending room of $2.7M.
I've identified several possibilities worth exploring. There are doubtless more to pick from.
*Jordan Hill – LA is looking for a deal that offers payroll reduction, so getting Ellington in return may be trumped by an offer from another team. (DB.com was the first to explain why Hill-to-Dallas is so unlikely here.)But I'd make the call, just in case. The salaries would trade-match and lower LA's cap by almost $1M. For the Mavs, Hill could contribute as a backup to Dirk.
*C.J. Miles – As things unravel with the Cavs, they may prefer to have a player they like (Ellington) already under contract for next year, rather than one whose contract ends (Miles). For the Mavs, Miles can be a better shooter off the bench, a useful piece in a playoff run.
*Mike Dunleavy – Chicago is so tight against the tax line that they are having problems meeting minimum roster requirements for the rest of the year without crossing the tax line. And they are absolutely set on staying below that threshold this season.
Swapping Dunleavy for Ellington would carve out extra room for the Bulls to add a player or three at the minimum salary for the rest of the season. For the Mavs, Dunleavy would be a stretch-style forward that might prove beneficial when Dirk sits.
Dunleavy's contract continues through the 2014-15 season, so this trade would reduce summer cap room by about $0.55M. That's a small price to pay if Dunleavy can contribute while Ellington has not.
As an aside, if the Mavs really like the idea of getting Dunleavy, and Ellington doesn't work, would they want to up the ante a bit? What the Bulls could really use is a 2-for-1 or 3-for-1 offer that includes a forward who would be expected to contribute and yet offers a reduction in total salary.
If the Mavs offered a trio headlined by either Blair or Crowder, and including James and Mekel, could the Mavs net Dunleavy plus an extra something, such as a protected pick?
This alternative, which doesn't resolve the Ellington issue, reduces the Mavs' summer cap room by $2.5M, so it would only be practical in tandem with Ellington leaving in a different deal.
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Mavs have 'nothing' to give for LA's Hill - feb 19
The Dallas Mavericks are continuing to touch base and in the case of the Lakers' Jordan Hill, are smartly following somebody else's bread crumbs down the trail.
Yahoo was the first to report that the Lakers have had discussions on a deal to send forward Jordan Hill to the Nets. Woj's story specifically and importantly mentions that the Nets have a $5.25 million Disabled Player Exception that they can use in a transaction.
And the definition of a "Disabled Player Exception'' is where the Mavs (don't) come in.
Dave McMenamin of ESPNDallas is the first to report of Dallas investigating Hill's availability, and the call rings true. Hill is 26 and is a functional big man who is averaging 8.5 points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes for the Lakers. ... and LA is giving him away for nothing?
Of course you call. Just as you do on Kevin Love and Rajon Rondo.
But there's a problem.
The Nets' offer (which if accepted ends up making their luxury-tax penalty amazingly high) is a match with Hill's money. ... and Hill's money is what LA is really concerned about here.
This is the part of the story that, near as I can tell, has gone unwritten: The Lakers, wealthy as they are, have no reason to be a taxpayer in this unsuccessful season. If they dump Pau Gasol and dump Hill, they are out of the taxpaying range and save a fortune.
But in Dallas' case, a Hill acquisition would mean finding a salary match -- and the Lakers don't WANT to take on a salary match. They want to give away Hill in exchange for air.
So in a weird way, Dallas is unlikely to acquire Jordan Hill for nothing because the Mavs don't have a "nothing'' to give.
Mavs have 85 million reasons to hope Deng doesn't get traded - feb 19
Word is Cleveland is worried enough about Luol Deng re-signing there this summer that he's trade bait. Dallas has a difficult time being a player there - so the Mavs have a Deng-related hope for this week as it relates to a four-year, $85 million offer they can make him this summer.
The bluffing out of the Luol Deng camp came immediately after his recent trade from Chicago to Cleveland, as agent Herb Rudoy told anyone who would listen that they could be expected to sit down with Cavaliers ownership to discuss a contract extension that will keep him in Cleveland long-term.
That was always baloney.
And the Dallas Mavericks know it.
The talented Deng will be among Dallas' when he is a free agent in the summer. ... and he will surely be. It's a too-little-known rule that makes it so:
After having been traded, Deng is only eligible to get an extension of two years onto his contract, if he wants one. (Before the trade, the limit was three.) But if he waits and goes into free agency, he can sign for up to five seasons with Cleveland, or four with any other team.
Why would anyone take a two-year extension in Cleveland when a five-year deal is looming? And, next question, is Deng disgruntled enough with the disarray in Cleveland that he'd spurn the five-year offer to take four elsewhere?
The possibility exists. And Dallas wants this this 6-9 two-time All-Star with a worker-bee reputation and 19 points and seven rebounds per game to be on the market.
And the only thing to prevent that is Cleveland trading him to a new home where he likes it well enough to take that new team's five-year offer.
What an "existing employer'' (presently Cleveland can offer: $110 mil over five years. What a "new employer'' like Dallas can offer: A deal as large as four years and $85 million, with a first-year salary at about over $19 million.
The Mavs will have that much money available. And will have a high level of interest. But right now, their interest is in hoping Luol Deng goes untraded and therefore available to court this summer.
Cuban Talks (And Giggles) Love and Deadline - feb 18
The Dallas Mavericks are in the middle of exploring all possibilities as the Thursday NBA trade deadline approaches ... and are in the middle of giggling at others.
"Of course,'' Mavs owner Mark Cuban said Tuesday evening if he's amused by trade rumors. "I know what we're talking about and what we're not talking about. We take pride in the fact that we never read about our deals before they happen, so if you read about them then you know what that means."
That is Mark's standard line at this time of year and represents an admirable goal. But know this, too: If the Mavs aren't calling Minnesota, just for an in-case check-in on the availability of superstar Kevin Love, Cuban and his staff aren't doing their jobs.
So they explore ... and we talk about the details -- however remote -- that would have to take place for this virtually impossible dream.
Cuban said he "didn't read anything (about the Love rumor).'' But I promise you the Mavs, as an organization, know all about it. ... including knowing all about how difficult such a swap would be.
"Teams value picks a whole lot more than they used to,'' said Cuban in explaining why he believes no superstar deal will be engineered by the deadline. "Teams now value receiving picks a whole lot more than they used to. I think they'd rather not do a deal than do a deal without picks and I think that could lead to more action during free agency. Teams have sort of defined their strategy during free agency where either you went all-in and the team you got is the team you got, or you go all-under with young players and you're mining for draft picks…
"And then there's teams like us that are looking to make deals, are flexible, but aren't willing to give up picks,'' Cuban said. "It's not gonna happen anyway because no one is giving up a superstar for one or two first-round picks and we're not giving up first-round picks."
Especially because ... ahem ... Dallas doesn't exactly have first-round picks to give.
So Love to Dallas?
"The Beach Boys are, in a couple months," joked Cuban, referencing the fact that Kevin is the nephew of Mike Love, a founder of the band that will indeed play in Dallas in the spring.
All of this was being kicked around as the Dallas Mavericks readied for Tuesday's visit from Miami. ( Read about the Mavs' 117-106 loss here in First Impressions.)
Meanwhile, we've got the latest on another relative fantasy ...
Dallas' interest in Boston's Rajon Rondo. Back on June 29, as we reported exclusively at the time, Dallas and Boston engaged in trade conversations regarding Rondo. Fast-forward to today and a throwaway line in an NBA article that grabs your attention: the Kings are taking a big swing at Rondo.
Are there really any Mavs possibilities here? We take a look at Rondo's situation and what it all means to Dallas here.
Is there a sensible trade that Dallas can make? Here's we've got our "Amateur GM'' piece on a smart way to acquire Anderson Varejao. And here, our exclusive visits with Houston GM Daryl Morey and Dallas GM Donnie Nelson on the subject of available center Omer Asik.
"We've got two days, we'll see what happens,'' Cuban said. "It's usually pretty hard to predict."
Stick with DB.com through the night and we'll keep you posted from inside Mavs HQ, with predictions, scoops, analysis, and we suppose, more giggles.
Why Rondo-to-Dallas is a no-go - Feb 17
Last summer it was widely rumored that the Boston Celtics were starting over and maybe willing to part with the talented-but-injured Rondo. Their thinking was that, with his ability after injury so uncertain and with a major rebuild ahead that might have him unwilling to re-sign when his contract expires, it might be better to cash in now and move on in another direction. He only had two remaining years on his contract, and having him around during a Celtic rebuild seemed pointless.
Given all that iffiness, the thought at that time was that the Celtics would sell at some sort of discount, and maybe a big part of the asking price would be to find someone to take his salary off their hands. In that context, DallasBasketball.com learned then that the Dallas Mavericks were clear that if the price was right, they were fully willing to take the risk on his health.
(See our June 29 exclusive here.) Other teams kicked the tires as well, but he stayed a Celtic.
Now he's back from injury (he's played 10 games, with fewer minutes per game but stats at a similar per-minute level as before the injury) and playing on a going-nowhere Boston team. Again, the rumors are swirling. Meanwhile, the Mavs clearly need to upgrade their perimeter defense, and he's considered one of the best at that.
Is the Mavs' interest going to pay off?
The name is the same – but the situation is not.
The Mavs' involvement last summer was predicated on the thought that they might be able to get Rondo at 50 cents on the dollar, given his injury status and the relatively few years of contractual control that remained on his contract. Now, with Rondo having returned to action, the price has skyrocketed and the offers being discussed (see below) are, relatively speaking, for $1.50 or $2 for that dollar of value. That's not the same type of deal at all that interested the Mavs the last summer.
But even if the price is sky high, he's definitely available. That's a start.
What's the current price?
Let's start with the Kings' reported offer. It's a great guideline, because we were told the offer fell short because Rondo expressed an unwillingness to re-sign with the Kings once his contract runs out in a little over a year. The fact that they got to the point of bringing Rondo into the discussion indicates that offer otherwise satisfied Boston.
That offer was huge. The Kings reportedly were offering two starting guards on team-friendly rookie contracts (Isaiah Thomas and Ben McLemore, the latter being the 7th pick in the 2013 draft), plus two future draft picks.
If we look elsewhere, that story fits with what we're hearing in other places around the league. The Celtics' price for Rondo has been said to be (a) two unprotected (!) first-rounders, per one source, or (b) one lottery pick plus a talented young player [we interpret that as a highly-drafted kid with upside playing on a rookie contract, such as McLemore], according to another.
What could the Mavs offer to interest Boston?
If so inclined, they might cobble together something like this ...
Larkin is the closest they have to "young player on rookie deal" like Boston wants, and he also plays the position that Rondo would vacate. (Larkin's name did indeed pop up in the teams' June talks.) To trade-match, as well as free up minutes to play Rondo, they'd have to include either Ellis or Calderon. To satisfy the demand for a pick, they only would have one option, a single first-rounder in 2020 (due to the pick owed to OKC and Stepien Rule limits). So, at least in theory, a package of Larkin, Calderon (or Ellis), and an unprotected No. 1 in 2020 kinda fits, and satisfies trade-matching rules. And working in the Mavs' favor is the fact that the Mavs are likely to be a destination where he would be open to staying, if traded.
Would the Mavs make that call?
If only due to the frequency with which Donnie, in particular, visits with Ainge, you can assume they have done so already. But in light of what the Kings were offering, it's clear Boston prefers substantially more – if they can just get it from a team that Rondo might like.
What to look for this week
One thing is certain: interest in Rondo is heavy, and despite Ainge's denials, he may get moved this week. With multiple teams chasing, Boston probably has more to gain by selling him now rather than letting his contract erode away in Boston while they try to rebuild. So just as was the case way back on June 29, we're keeping an eye on Rondo and Boston as we head towards the NBA trade deadline on Thursday.
Trade Rumor Traffic: Inside Mavs HQ To Preview The NBA Trade Deadline - Feb 13
The NBA Trade Deadline is on the horizon. Are the Mavs talking trade? Yes, they are. What are the chances they make a trade, and who is and isn't on their radar? Allow us to take you inside Mavs HQ for a detailed look the landscape now, with thoughts on Sanders, Varejao, Asik, Hawes, Stephenson and more ... and how the landscape can change.
This season the NBA landscape has a crazy mix, and it has the trade market primed for chaos. About half the league's teams feel they are in position to get better, looking for one more addition at the right price. The other half have decided to "prioritize the long-term" (cough "tank" cough) this season and will give up any talent they don't see as a long-term keeper, to anyone who will pay their price. And with so much talent landing in free agency under the dynamics of the 2011 CBA, a team can swap away talent now and replace it in free agency. On top of all that, the riches of the 2014 NBA Draft and the chance to land young talent at a bargain salary has fueled desires for 1st-round draft picks in every deal.
In other words, we should have potential buyers galore, potential sellers galore, and talent everywhere.
The Dallas Mavericks admit they want to be "opportunistic." So does that mean they're buyers, or sellers? And what are they looking to do?
From sources close to the team as well as around the league, DallasBasketball.com learned some of their thinking as we head to the deadline. We can't share all we know (yet), but here is a bundle of things to look for.
First of all, let's put to rest the idea that the Mavs might be on the "selling" side of things this year, trying to turn a Marion, Carter, Harris, or other expiring contract into a pick for later help. That holds no interest for them. They like the promise of the team they have, and are perfectly willing to run with it and see how far they can go. ( That even extends to their response when the Wiz called them about point-guard help.) But they prefer to buy, if they can find a trade they like at a price they like.
Second, with only a week remaining until the deadline, the asking price on talent right now is beyond exorbitant. Remember the trade that the Mavs made a few years back to land Keith Van Horn as a talented backup for Dirk, for virtually nothing? There are multiple players being offered with far less talent than Van Horn had, some as expiring contract rent-a-players - and we have been told repeatedly by multiple execs from multiple teams that the asking price starts with a first-round pick for every such player!
DB.com is being told of one specific team that's willing to bundle a talented backup or three in a package, but is sticking hard to demands for a star-caliber talent in return (for a "superstar" is the way one GM described it to us).
Demanding a huge package for Rondo? That's what Boston's doing, and it's fair enough. Our Team X wanting a superstar for a backup? That's how a Mavs trade doesn't get made at the deadline.
We've also been told by two sources very specifically that when Dallas calls Philly to kick the tires on ideas (Spencer Hawes more than Evan Turner), Sixers GM Sam Hinkie kicks back with demands for first-round picks.
Are we saying the Mavs are out of the trade market? At those prices, absolutely yes. The Mavs are no more willing to trade away a first-round pick than anyone else is (and of course, you have to have one to swap one) so the prices will have to come down considerably before they will do a deal.
Sitting on the sidelines, however, might not be a catastrophe. Rather than waste assets now, the Mavs thinking is that there will be huge opportunity in the summer if they need to wait. For example, they could use another center, and we're likely to see talents like Gortat, Gasol, Asik, (all of whom they like at the right price, we understand) and perhaps several other good ones be on the market then.
One name to watch in the summer (who definitely is off the market now) is Larry Sanders, the young and defensively-talented Milwaukee Bucks center. He developed nicely for them in prior years, but he's been a huge disappointment this season on the court after signing a massive extension before it began, and he's had off-court issues as well.
His shooting has gone down, with the free-throw percentage sinking from 62 percent to the worrisome 47 percent, along with notable drops in field-goal percentage, points, rebounds and blocked shots. And after missing 25 games earlier this season because of an injury sustained in a nightclub altercation, he's just broken his orbital bone (eye socket) this week and will miss most of the remainder of the season.
The Bucks have been saved from a rushed deal to get rid of him and his possibly-albatross contract by the fact that he's almost impossible to trade until July and get back commensurate value. (As an extended rookie contract where the extension hasn't begun yet, his contract falls in the "Poison Pill" category, only counting as $3.05 million in outgoing salary in a trade but as $9.41 million incoming to the other team, creating huge trade-matching obstacles.)
A Mavs source tells us Milwaukee never wanted to deal Sanders at this time anyway. (That tells you Dallas at least looked into the idea.) And now? Many expect he will be back in their good graces by the time we get to July. But the big contract and the off-court issues mean the door is ajar.
A trade then would be for a player with four years ahead, at $11 million per season, and all kinds of huge question marks. High-risk, a boom-or-bust type of deal, but we have it on good authority that the Mavs are not scared of the money he's owed, if he gets shopped.
Same on Omer Asik, by the way. We can tell you definitively that Dallas has touched base with Houston GM Daryl Morey there, and that one aspect is locked in: The Mavs are not frightened off by Asik's coming "balloon payment.''
But the Sanders idea is one for later day. (And we're continuing to work on Asik details and will have more for you shortly. ... ( in addition to one powerful Rockets voice who doesn't want to swap Asik within the Southwest Division. ) So how about now? If asking prices do come down on various players before the deadline that they want, how could the Mavs be in the mix without a pick? If no one is willing to offer one, using the Mavs' seconnd-rounder from Boston is one idea, especially if they opt for a rent-a-player.
Two takes to file away as either "fact'' or "chum,'' because teams we've spoken to have been given strong impressions here:
1) Mark Cuban doesn't want to sacrifice that Boston pick. The Mavs suddenly seem to be valuing the draft like they rarely have before.
2) The Mavs are not excited in general about the rent-a-player concept -- and not excited specifically about it as it relates to Philly's Evan Turner.
Knowing all that: We think the Mavs could simply engage in a talent-for-talent swap that helps both teams, and that gives a more lasting benefit. Many of the talented players being shopped have expiring contracts and offer no value other than a two-month contribution. But if they can swing a deal for a longer contract, they can benefit on an ongoing basis rather than just get a temporary patch for the playoffs.
Of course, the price will be a bit higher for that deal. They would have to give, in order to get.
One idea of that kind we like (note: this is our own tinkering, not something the Mavs are necessarily considering) would be a swap with the Cavs for Anderson Varejao, as a center to pair with Dalembert. ... and done in a manner that gives the Mavs a future cap benefit as well. Instead of going into the summer needing another center and having to use up $8-10 million of their summer cap room on that need, what if they already had Varejao? And what if instead of having $19-20 million left to spend on shoring up the center and wing positions, a deadline deal would get the center position done and leave $17-18 million to spend on a star wing with plenty left to spend elsewhere?
This is where the discussion of a player like Lance Stephenson comes in. We've had a pair of extensive conversations with someone close to Stephenson and the Pacers' belief is that they can convince him to re-up with Indy this summer ... even though they have just $8.3 million of room for him.
That's going to be a neat trick, and the Mavs will be vultures on that situation ... which is among the dominoes that can fall right in July especially if Dallas pushes a mid-February domino or two.
The Mavs are already working the phones. Calls are coming in as fast as they're going out, some on things we can't talk about (yet) and others on things we don't know (yet). There will be talk at the All-Star Game ... Maybe something will lead to a trade. Heading forward, we'll keep you abreast of the developments as they occur in DB.com's one-of-a-kind "Trade Rumor Traffic'' feature.
As always ... stay tuned, and thanks for being a Mavs Premium Insider!
Exclusive: Wizards Call Mavs About Point-Guard Trade - feb 9
Buyers and sellers.
Few teams want to admit to being the latter. Most teams boast about being the former.
In the case of the Washington Wizards? Their actions indicate to us that they are indeed buyers. They are 25-25 entering this week of play, and figure to continue hovering around the .500 mark. But in the woeful East, that still has them in fifth place right now and just a game out of third place.
When you are the Wizards, with such a historical lack of brass-ring opportunity, you buy.
The Dallas Mavericks? Here's owner Mark Cuban's take on the subject of "buyers and sellers'':
"We're always going to be opportunistic, whatever the circumstances are. I'm always preferring to be a buyer. So I don't plan on being a seller.''
As always, Tony Cubes provides himself lots of wiggle room in that quote. But as they sit now -- 10 games above .500 for the first time since the title season, five straight wins giving them a 31-21 record and a clear view of sixth place in the West -- you can understand the Mavs' reluctance to sell off pieces.
But at point guard? Dallas does have pieces.
The Mavs are pleased with Jose Calderon as their starter on the terms of a deal that pays him $6,791,570, $7,097,191, $7,402,812 and $7,708,427 for his four seasons. They are ecstatic with Devin Harris as his backup on a one-year deal at $884,293. They believe first-round rookie Shane Larkin (making $1,536,960 this season) has a future. They have a three-year deal with Gal Mekel (presently injured but rehabbing quickly and making 490,180 this season on his three-year contract) and can be patient there.
Washington and Dallas have talked. But DB.com is being told what the Mavs have told Wizards GM Ernie Grunfield: Dallas likes its stable and isn't looking to make a change.
Is there room to bend here? One issue is that because both clubs are presumably buyers, the Wizards won't want to give up an important piece to their playoff puzzle -- but the Mavs would need to get a piece of value back.
Most of the Wiz talent simply isn't expendable to Washington. The players who aren't in Washington's rotation wouldn't bust into Dallas' rotation.
There are more complex deals that can be trade-machined here, but they would mean each club breaking off core pieces ... and that's not what "buyers'' do.
But even if the teams are unable to construct a deal before the Feb. 20 trade deadline, there is a revelation here in our story: For the first time in awhile, the Mavs' stable door is being knocked on. There is actually a reason for Grunfeld to actually bother calling Donnie Nelson (which we're told is happening frequently). The Mavs aren't just chasing get-better trade ideas (and they are); other clubs are chasing back.
Evan Turner To Mavs? The Truth About A Rent-A-Player - feb 4
ON THE MARKET
The Philadelphia 76ers are openly shopping forward Evan Turner. From Charlotte to Phoenix and everywhere in between there are potential buyers -- or, at least, rumored potential buyers.
In that latter category are your Dallas Mavericks.
Turner, a 6-foot-7 forward, averages 18.1 points and six rebounds this season for the 76ers. He is a blue-chip talent on paper who struggles as a perimeter shooter and with turnovers.
But he's a talent.
FROM A MAVS SOURCE
Now, is he a talent worth "renting'' for three months? Because that's the reality of this situation.
"A guy in that situation would be a rent-a-player, yes,'' a Mavs source tells DB.com.
First of all, dismiss the report out of Ohio that claims the Mavs think "they're a piece away from challenging the likes of the Thunder and Spurs ... If they can get Turner for a draft pick, they'll do it.''
That report is fabricated -- as evidenced by the fact Dallas doesn't have a (first-round) draft pick to give in trade. (And giving up a pick isn't a salary match, anyway.)
Nor, frankly, does Evan Turner possess the talents to fuel Dallas' vault to first place in the West. (Which seems self-evident and barely worth mentioning.)
If there is a rent-a-player who truly is that elusive "missing piece," Dallas would consider altering its philosophy. Player X is a soon-to-be-free agent who comes to Dallas for three months, is on a given night a performance peer of Dirk's (or at least Ellis') and then disappears on July 1?
That player might be worth giving up ... something.
WHO KEEPS PUTTING TRIX IN THIS DEAL?
But what is it Dallas has to offer for that hypothetical star? If the Mavs are sacrificing, say, Shawn Marion, isn't that a spinning of wheels?
By the way, watch and see: Even though Philly is clearly trying to move him for a pick, rumor-mongers will attach Marion's name to this deal in the coming days.
But the reality will always be this: The real value obtained by the team that gets Turner isn't Turner the player for three months (though if he goes to Charlotte, he really could give the franchise a temporary boost that has value). What the Mavs would truly be "buying" are Turner's Bird Rights and RFA rights, since his contract expires at season's end.
The team with his rights would have to make Turner a qualifying offer of about $8.7 million to restrict him. ... and then the bidding begins. Teams that are in love with Turner can wait until the summer and try to outbid his owner without giving up a piece now. The Mavs will have room to do that, but ...
IS DALLAS IN HOT PURSUIT OF TURNER?
The Mavs are not in love with Evan Turner.
So a trade for him now gets you some temporary value this season ... unless you actually have to give up a piece to get him. And it gives you some minor value this offseason ... unless some team loves him a lot more than you do.
I am told by Mavs HQ that there are players Dallas would bend its rent-a-player philosophy for. (And yes, that's something we'll explore in the coming days). ... but that Evan Turner is not at all high on that list.
Behind Open Doors? Mavs' Latest On Asik & Bynum - jan 13
On another level of game-playing -- far removed from the court -- is the Game of Bluster. As we gear up for February trade season, four major players in that Game of Bluster right now are:
1) The Dallas Mavericks
2) The Houston Rockets
3) The Andrew Bynum camp
4) Omer Asik's agent, Arn Tellem.
Let's begin with Mavs owner Mark Cuban, who often has a habit of speaking publicly about trades and personnel ... without actually saying anything.
Do the Mavs need to use a trade to upgrade from Somnambulant Sam Dalembert?
"It depends on which Sam we have," Cuban said, a cleverly cryptic answer that barely hides the truth DB.com readers have been seeing in this space for weeks: The Mavs KNOW which Sam they have. They just aren't being very honest with themselves about what they signed on for.
"If we have the Sam of (solid performances),'' Cuban continued, "we're good. If we have the Sam that isn't as on key ... it's different.''
And therefore ... it's different. Which is why personnel man Tony Ronzone led a recent meeting to discuss, among other things, the availability and judgments of centers Andrew Bynum and Omer Asik.
I'm told the braintrust came to essentially the same conclusion it did in July, when it experienced a "silly'' recruiting meeting with Bynum and decided it wanted no part of him.
Now Bynum is available again, having lost the second half of his $12-million salary last week when Cleveland traded him to Chicago, which immediately waived him.
Those reports that "10 teams are interested in Bynum''? One NBA source tells me, "So 10 teams are interested yet he passed through waivers? Ten teams are interested but a week has passed and even teams desperate for centers haven't bid on him?''
Technically, teams really were never going to claim him; it required a $12-mil chunk of cap room (which only Philly has, and they've already been down this Bynum road.) or a $12-mil Trade Exception (which nobody has.)
But the source's point still applies. There are no "10 teams.'' When "10 teams'' are said to be interested in a player, that information cannot possibly be coming from a source inside each of those 10 teams; no reporter is that thorough, connected and industrious.
No, when a big casting of a net like that is announced. it's because it's announced by one source -- the agent.
Did the Mavs discuss Bynum privately? Indeed, and Cuban concedes this on the record by saying, "It's not to say we wouldn't consider him. We'll look at everybody and make a determination. (But) any free agent, we can only offer them the minimum."
I continue to believe Bynum is worth not even that. The Mavs' private meeting is apparently resulting in a similar conclusion ... and meetings in other NBA boardrooms are resulting in the same. Why haven't the Clippers -- supposedly "tops on his list'' -- hurried to acquire Bynum? The Nets and Hawks have injury issues with their standout starters; why haven't they gobbled up Bynum? If Miami is such an "obvious choice,'' why isn't it yet "obvious'' to Miami?
I won't bother getting into the prediction business here except to tell you what I know: The NBA at-large is troubled by the J.R. Smith insanity in New York; the nutty Bynum's desire to get a decent contract is made more difficult with Smith's antics fresh on everyone's minds.
And in Dallas ... isn't one sometimes-unmotivated 7-footer enough?
Agent influence and media bluster are also behind the Asik situation in Houston. When you hear national media sources outlining all the attractive options the Rockets have with Asik, you are actually hearing the twin voices of Houston GM Daryl Morey and Asik agent Arn Tellem.
Far too few news items regarding Asik bother to include the facts that:
*Asik's contract - which features a $15 million "balloon'' cash payment in 2014-15 - lessens his attractiveness.
*Leaks that had Houston "almost'' trading Asik to the Nets for Deron Williams smell suspiciously like someone in Houston's front office wishes to create a mirage of activity and effort and action.
*What happened to Houston's openly-announced "deadline''? The Rockets were determined to move Asik on December 19. They announced it to the world while also intimating (through media leaks) that they demanded young talent and a draft pick.
And then suddenly, the "deadline'' came and went. And Asik still clogs the Houston payroll and roster.
It was on December 19 when Yahoo wrote, of "Houston's ... self-imposed deadline.'' Then shortly after that wrote, "But remember, the (real) trade deadline is still two months ago.'' And then, a minute later, wrote, "Houston has found too many teams leery of Asik's contract next season, and hasn't found a deal it wants.''
Whew! That was some fast-and-furious fake-deadline non-activity right there, eh?
The real deadline is Feb. 20. The real action will heat up leading up to that time, and not because Bynum's agent wants it to heat up now, and not because the Rockets wanted it to heat up in December.
Says Cuban: "We're always exploring, but it's also harder to do deals now just because of the rules. But we're always wide-open. We'll do the deal that we need to do to accomplish what we need to accomplish."
There is a blockade, I'm told, to any eventual Asik trade talks involving the Mavs and Rockets. Hoopshype created a stir in November by claiming the Mavericks were "pushing'' for a swap involving Marion and Larkin for Asik; it was all baloney, as at that time Dallas had literally not had any discussions on the subject with the Rockets. None.
Will there ever be? Says a source: "The Rockets don't want to make that trade inside the division. That's why there aren't any talks.''
Except, of course, behind closed doors, among themselves for now, at Dallas Mavericks HQ.
A Deng Contract Extension With Cavs? Nah. Mavs Will Still Eye Him As FA - jan 9
The agent for Luol Deng says now that he's been traded from Bulls to Cavs, Deng will discuss a contract extension to keep him in Cleveland long-term. That's terribly polite of the agent to say ... and it's terribly wrong. The way the rules and money work, there is almost zero chance of Deng extending in Cleveland - and a fine chance for the Mavs to bid in summer free agency.
The Chicago paper has an article on Luol Deng, which begins:
Luol Deng and his camp expect to sit down with Cavaliers ownership and talk about a contract extension that will keep him in Cleveland long-term.
Such conversations with Bulls management came with an agenda, according to Deng's agent, Herb Rudoy, who believes the team purposely low-balled his client to make him walk.
Rudoy told the Sun-Times that last week Bulls general manager Gar Forman offered Deng a take-it-or-leave-it three-year, $30 million contract, knowing the veteran would turn it down.
That sounds like a troubling development for the Dallas Mavericks, who we know will have interest in signing the talented Deng when he is a free agent in the summer.
So what are the odds? Now that he's going to talk with the Cavs about an extension, will he sign one and avoid free agency? Will Dallas get shut out of the process and never be able to make a bid on the 6-9 two-time All-Star who this year is averaging 19 points and seven rebounds per game?
Never fear. Despite what his agent says in the article, an extension has virtually zero chance of happening.
What no one has noted (and most don't even know) is that after being traded, Deng would only be eligible to get an extension of two years onto his contract, if he wants one. (Before the trade, the limit was three.) But if he waits and goes into free agency, he can sign for up to five seasons with Cleveland, or four with any other team.
With that difference in possibilities, those extension talks are going nowhere.
The bigger issue for the Mavs will actually be how much it costs to sign Deng, whose agent went on to admit that they want "a lot of money, that's for sure." How much is "a lot"? That remains to be seen.
But the offers can be significant. He'll be eligible for a deal from any team as big as four- years and $85 mil, and starting at over $19 mil (The Cavs could offer him even more - $110 mil over five years.) Deng will certainly command plenty of interest, but the Mavs can compete at that price level if they want to, as they will have way more than $19 mil in spending room this summer. Since no team (including Cleveland) is expected to offer him nearly that much, there's an opening to get him if the Mavs want him badly enough and can negotiate a deal.
Will they want him enough to sign him at the price needed to get him? Can they negotiate that asking price to one that works for them and get him to come to Dallas? This story gives you the information that the door is staying open and that the Mavs will get a chance this summer at Luol Deng. ... no matter the polite noises now being made by the agent to the contrary.
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