Mavs Fishing: Welcome To DeAndre's Doorstep
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said the appropriate thing on Draft Night, doing his best to refuse comment on the team's Summer Shopping plans.
I'm certainly not going to talk about fishing,'' he said, in reference to GM Donnie Nelson's long-standing characterization of this as a search for a "big fish.'' "That's a no-win situation. We're preparing to do what we have to do, and we're going to go out there and do it.''
Privately, that preparation is taking shape.
DB.com has learned that Cuban will be at the master controls of free agency while based in L.A. The reasoning? No, it's not because DeAndre Jordan will be there; he might not be, as the Los Angeles Times is reporting that Jordan will make his Houston home his base camp. Cuban wants to be where the agents are ... and there is a cluster of powerbrokers who are LA-based.
Meanwhile, the Times is reporting that Chandler Parsons, the player on the Dallas roster most enthusiastic about recruiting, has been spending time in Houston with Jordan, with whom he is obviously friendly. The Mavs are under the impression that they are on Jordan's short list, and the Times notes that they are joined there by his present team, the Clippers, along with the Bucks and Lakers.
The Lakers are reportedly "front-runners'' for LaMarcus Aldridge. So why would they also be on Jordan's list? Because, frankly, it's too early to proclaim "front-runners.'' We believe Aldridge -- very receptive to the idea of leaving Portland -- will listen to Dallas' pitch. And Jordan and Aldridge won't just do this because they are Texas natives (though that can't hurt); they'll do it because listening to the pitch and being courted is a big part of the entire point of this exercise.
The Mavs hope that goes for virtually everyone up and down their wish list, including other "big fish,'' restricted standouts like Jimmy Butler, and roster-filler candidates like Mo Williams. On the lesser guys, the Mavs will ask that they wait their turn. On the Jordan/Aldridge level, the Mavs are prioritizing but, as DB.com has reported, is receptive to the notion (with those two, certainly) of the players picking Dallas rather than Dallas picking the players.
What happens in the unlikely event both if both Jordan and Aldridge say "yes'' to the Dallas pitch? There are ways of making that work for the Mavs, as DB.com reported earlier this spring in this exclusive and detailed breakdown.
An example: Operate as an over-the-cap team. Instead of working with about $70 mil in cap room (a $67 mil cap plus a $3million-ish room MLE), the limit would become the $85.7-mil apron. Within the confines of that $85.7-mil cap, the Mavs could have more assets, be able to retain more existing players and picks rather than get rid of some to clear room, and there could be a bigger MLE (about $5.5 mil) plus a BAE (about $2 mil) to use to add more talent.
One player would need a deal starting at $19 mil. Two? They'd each need $19 mil (assuming they'd desire the max, which they would). To get one guy in this fashion? The Mavs would need to salary-match by sending away at least $14 mil in outgoing salary (to somewhere). The issue would be to find the right set of outgoing to somehow entice both LA and Portland.
We believe there’s an easy, obvious, no-brainer answer regarding LA. If the Clippers lose Jordan, they would lack cap space to replace him in free agency. So the answer there would be to swap Chandler for Jordan in a 1-for-1 swap, with TY getting a deal starting at $14 mil. (If LA negotiated a bit smaller deal with TY, the Mavs could and would add a minimum salary player or two to the swap.) As a major consolation prize, that’s a huge win for LA, and doesn’t seem hard to envision at all, if Jordan opts to come to Dallas. (Read more on 10 Mavs Steps to DeAndre here.)
In fact, this one is such a fit and also a necessity for LA that we believe if the Mavs were signing Jordan using cap room, LA would be the one desperately pursuing a sign-and-trade instead, and the Mavs could coax a future pick and perhaps other assets for cooperating.
But when it comes to Portland, the path is not as clear. That goes for Aldridge as part of a Double Pipedream or Aldridge by himself.
The primary asset to use in a salary match for a trade with the Blazers (beyond TY) would be either Ellis (if he leaves) or Rondo, but we don’t think either would necessarily be of interest to the Blazers, nor net a salary big enough to match $14 mil. (It must be noted that Ellis, coming off an $8.36M salary with the Mavs, would only count for his prior salary, if the new salary exceeds $10.32 mil. Thus, Dallas is hoping for that big payday for him.)
If Rondo gets a deal from someone that exceeds $10M-ish, then ideally the Mavs could cobble together a multi-team deal in which Rondo and Felton are sent here or there, with Aldridge landing in Dallas and some desirable assets going to Portland. The possibility that the Mavs might simply sign Aldridge, with Portland getting nothing instead of something, would be the key, so the Mavs would have to make sure that Portland’s return on the deal is seen as a plus to them. And who knows, maybe Rondo or Ellis have real appeal to them, in which case a deal would be much easier.
The over-the-cap route is iffier. And getting both guys is wildly iffy. But again, this sign-and-trade path works for just one guy, too ... And given Dallas' swings-and-misses in big-fish free agency, one guy would be wonderful. (And then you build from there, with the Danny Green/Wes Matthews types and the Mo Williams/Jeremy Lin/Koponen types.
But here's how tricky this juggling act is for the Mavs, as Cuban's recruiting lieutenants ready those boots on the ground: DB.com has learned that the recruiting party -- including Parsons certainly, and likely led by Nelson and coach Rick Carlisle -- will travel as a group. Dallas won't send two reps to one doorstep and two other reps to another doorstep.
The first big-fish pitch will be an ensemble piece ... and so will the next pitch. And it will take some skill to let Jordan/Aldridge know that he is coveted like no other ... and then travel to/from Houston to let Aldridge/Jordan know that he, too, is coveted like no other.
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