My 4 Mavs Trades Worth Exploring
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. (Also worth noting: Fish is following closely what DB.com knows to be the Mavs-Cavs talks relating to Luol Deng. Stay tuned 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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