Mavs Amateur GM: Trade Wright For Varejao

Much of the trade-deadline talent is expiring-contract stuff - and the Mavs lean against playing 'rent-a-player' here. But what if Dallas can acquire a longer contract that creates an ongoing benefit rather than just a temp playoff patch? Our 'Amateur GM' idea of Varejao-for-Wright ... and its trickle-up impact on the likes of Stephenson or Deng:

We know the Dallas Mavericks are attempting to improve themselves via trade while avoiding the sacrifice of their valued second-round pick (via Boston) and while avoiding taking on a rent-a-player. (Details on these concepts can be found in Friday's Donuts).

But as we play Mavs Amateur GM with the deadline approaching, we can envision a talent-for-talent swap that helps the Mavs and their trade partner.

Know that many of the talented players being shopped have expiring contracts and offer no value other than a two-month contribution. But what if Dallas can swing a deal for a longer contract, allowing the Mavs to 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.

Important disclaimer: If you are a seasoned follower of what we do at, you are already aware. But just in case: We are very clear and very careful in noting the differences between 1)sourced material, 2) rumors and 3) our own Amateur GM'ing. Sometimes two or three of those categories meld nicely together.

But this piece, for now, falls into Category 3 ...

One idea of that give-to-get kind we like (again, 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 Sam Dalembert.

Varejao is 31, has had injury issues in the past (in the three seasons prior to this one, the most games he has played has been 31 in a season), but he is healthier this season (playing in 48 of the Cavs 53 games so far). He is an energy player. He is excellent rebounder (more than 12 rebounds/per 36 minutes for the last three seasons), an area of need for Dallas. He can score a bit (48 percent on FGs this season) and play some defense. He has a remaining year on his contract at $9.7 million, so he's not a rent-a-player.
The biggest negative with him is the potential for injury, and the possibility that his offensive range could be a bit too limited to give him minutes as Dirk's backup, leaving that need unfilled and perhaps causing issues for enough minutes.

But the Cavs -- in sellers' mode, no matter their latest attempt at spin -- won't give him away. While their team is in disarray right now, Varejao is a fixture in Cleveland and a productive one. It will take value-for-value … but in their current situation, going nowhere for now, Cleveland might be open and it might be time to pounce.

How about offering a talented player with a bit more future, who can be there longer with the kids they have, in Varejao's place?

Would the Cavs crave Brandan Wright?
At 26, he's younger than Varejao. He's an above-the-rim player who provides eye-popping moments for fans. He's already efficiently productive (PER 24.2) and looks to be still getting better. Like Varejao, B-Wright is a positive in the locker room, and all together he's the very sort of player you don't want to let go of.

Trading him would be hard for the Mavs to do.

But that's exactly the type of offer it will take – give up something you like, in order to get something you like even more - in this environment. Brandan's not quite a center, probably will always be a tweener in the Mavs' rotation, and the Mavs (who philosophically have always believed in employing two traditional centers) need another post. Can you sacrifice B-Wright's production as a part-time spark for a center you really need?
So we suggest a trade of Wright and Wayne Ellington (whom the Mavs like, but who has been underused and was productive in Cleveland last season) for Varejao and DFW native C.J. Miles.

The Mavs liked Miles enough to court him as a summer-of-2012 free agent, he might help down the stretch, and he is only under contract in Cleveland for two more months. But he's the throw-in here.

In Wright, the Cavs would end up with a productive, up-and-coming, younger player to add to their future, a heady guard they like, and would also reduce their salary next season by about $2 million.
But the Mavs would have a future cap benefit from this trade as well. ... and here is where the concept takes us beyond fantasy trading. 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, the Mavs would already have Varejao, and the swap of the Wright and Ellington contracts would almost "pay for" the cost of the Varejao contract.

In previous estimations we've figured the Mavs could pay Dirk $10-12 million in the summer and have $19-20 million left to split in order to spend on shoring up TWO spots: the center and small-forward positions.

This move would get the center position done and leave the Mavs $17-18 million, enough for a starting small forward, with change left to spend elsewhere. Or enough to overspend on a free agent.

The Mavs will be interested the very top-of-the-line in free agency this summer. But what we've learned in recent offseasons is that those top-of-the-line guys rarely leave their existing teams (five-year deals being more inviting than four-year deals). So it takes unusual cases and maybe overspending to lure a player ... even one who is a notch below top-of-the-line.

Like Cleveland's Luol Deng, who may not value that extra contractual year from the Cavs in comparison to an above-market offer from Dallas. (As we told you weeks ago, Deng was never going to sign an in-season extension with Cleveland.) Or like Indiana's Lance Stephenson, who the Pacers will have to move cap-related heaven and earth in order to retain.


But the trickle-up comes later. First things first. Wright/Ellington for Varejao/Miles is, in a sense, a trade probably neither team would love, as both are giving up a player they really like. But Amateur GM says it might be too much of a win-win for either to decline.

As a side note, Varejao for Wright-Ellington would still work cap-wise this summer. So if it never makes it to the front burner before Thursday, it can stew until summer.

We'd like it then. But we'd like it more now.

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