Mavs Donuts: Don Your Thinking (Salary) Cap

DALLAS - I'm a person who is into precision. So let me be very precise when it comes to 12:01 tonight, the opening of the July 1 window, and the Mavs' pursuit of Jordan AND Aldridge. I am NOT predicting the acquisition of both. I am exploring the methods of doing so - and our research is now bolstered by an important quote just gathered by Fish. Mavs Free-Agency-Eve Donuts:

DONUT 1: Not a Prediction

I have made this point since we first wrote the story of the Mavs Double-Pipedream of signing two max free agents. It's NOT a prediction that it WILL happen. It's simply a fact that it CAN. Furthermore, I can't emphasize enough that the biggest challenge, by far, is getting the players to issue the Dallas Mavericks a "yes'' when the lines of communication officially open at 12:01 a.m. 'NBA Time' tonight.

DONUT 2: A 'Yes' From Inside

What we had not gathered, until now, is just how aware the involved parties are about this pipedream. And Fish now has that answer: "Yes,'' a source who will be close to the talks tells, "it can be done. It would take some work, but yes.''

I think that's important ... not because we didn't already know it was possible but rather because I'm glad, as a Mavs fan, to know that the parties involved are so aware. And that the concept -- while not front-of-mind, maybe, because the odds are so great against it -- is at least rattling around in the minds of those involved.

DONUT 3: Before the Nuts and Bolts

Fish's Monday Mavs Donuts offer a pretty complete look at so many of the moving parts here ... the personalities, the whereabouts, the priorities ... right down to what nightclub in LA all the fellas are hanging out at. Please read this. It's important background for what is about to go down.


Oh, and add this wee-hours piece to your reading material ... Fish on the official meetings in LA with the two players, about to go down ... and then maybe some (pool)-partying.

DONUT 4: What If?

So ... what if the two max free agents decide they want to play in Dallas, together? I promise you the three parties can figure it out. Both fans and media get too hung up on the money and the cap, but all of that is only an obstacle if any of the three parties want it to be. I'm probably being too dismissive of others, but I think those who say the Mavs CAN'T sign both is an indicator of small and limited thinking, thinking that looks for obstacles rather than for solutions.

I think there are some key working concepts here, rather than a "solution." I would emphasize the following ...

DONUT 5: Triple Commitment

How committed would all three parties be to joining forces?

There are always varying levels of commitment. But to make it work, some shared sacrifice will have to happen. If they try to pay max 2015 money to both, how do they have money to replenish the starting guard positions? The parties will have to work together, and be willing to bend. (That includes the Mavs; would they want the backcourt cupboard to be bare?) Maybe all three would, maybe not.

But it starts with the commitment. Remember when Miam put together its big three? Once the players decided it was a "yes,'' then the money amount was decided AFTER the Heat figured out what else to do and how to make it fit. But they were all willing to work together, and in the end the players took a bit less, in the process.

If they are working together, here are some basic money concepts in working to a financial solution. ...

DONUT 6: $19 Mil Each

Conceptually, just using cap room, you could keep Dirk, Parsons, and Anderson, get rid of the rest, and have room for $19 mil for each of LMA and DAJ. While not preferable, that means the the raw numbers work on paper to get the money in the right ballpark, and that's your starting point.

That would then present issues of finding a way to add guards and a bench, and/or include room for players like Harris, Powell, Koponen, and/or get rid of players like Felton, Harris, Powell without adding salary to do so.

The Sign-and-Trade solutions, and working what are typically over-the-cap solutions, are not all-or-nothing. If you can S&T for either or both of DAJ and LMA, you can add up to $5 mil more in spending room for each S&T. And if the other team knows they are losing the player no matter what, that can create willingness to deal and get something rather than nothing.

DONUT 7: Round Numbers, One Broad Solution

I noted above that I'm a precision kinda guy. But there are dollars that we cannot know yet. So ... In round numbers and in four "simple'' steps, the following is one broad solution. Not the only one. But one good one, should two max FAs say "yes'' to Dallas' pitches ...

*The Mavs keep the players and draft rights they have now, and don't have to get rid of anyone.
*They sign Aldridge away from Portland on a max deal.
*They sign-and-trade for Jordan on a max deal by packaging Felton and Tyson Chandler (on a three-year, $36-mil deal) to the Clippers.
The Mavs fill up the rest of the roster with a room-MLE player, by signing Anderson and Koponen, and by bringing in veteran Merry Minimums.


There are other paths to make all of this possible (see below) but this immediate exercise is to demonstrate that the broad strokes are doable if all three parties decide this is what they want to make happen.

DONUT 8: Stay informed!

*Keep it here on as we will keep you posted in a variety of ways from inside your team ... Here on the HOME page, and here on Boards ... You can also catch Fish on Twitter at FishSports and yours truly on Twitter here. Thanks for joining us as we launch our 16th season inside the Mavs!

*Oh, and if you want to be a Mavs Insider with Premium coverage? Click here to take our free 7-day trial and then for 10 cents a day, you are among the most informed Mavs followers on the planet! Go Mavs and Go Premium!

*All our stories are archived here ... use the search tool to find everything on any Mavs topic.

DONUT 9: The 'How' Matters

In presenting this on Premium Boards, 'Paco7799' asks a good question: "Wait, isn't TY's caphold too big to do this? Maybe something with my math is wrong but his cap hold is over $20 Million and even if you renounce every other FA we would only get to around 9 Million to sign LMA outright.''


Answer: The room comes with the "how.'' There's room. The Mavs wouldn't keep a caphold on TY, because they wouldn't use Bird rights to sign him. They'd use cap room. And their cap would look like the above illustration before putting Tyson on a contract. ... that would guide him to the Clippers.

The first-year number it takes (with raises) to offer Tyson that fitting three-year, $36-mil deal is approximately $11.4 mil ...Even without knowing the actual cap or the actual max for LaMarcus, we can say the numbers are certainly there or close enough.

And don't forget this is just a starting point. Somehow engineer more sign-and-trade action and you win even more latitude.

DONUT 10: Another Max Guy

The excitement is over new ideas and new players, but let's not leave Tyson Chandler in the dust.

Our feeling is that DAJ is more likely than LAM. (Inasmuch as Fish has Jordan saying on the record that he's "seriously considering Dallas,'' that's a solid feeling.) And swapping Tyson for DeAndre is such a cozy fit ... but make no mistake, among the many other options out there is losing the bidding on Jordan but winning the bidding on Aldridge ... and then bringing Tyson back.

Aldridge and Chandler would constitute two "big-fish free agents'' in another, but equally legit way. Tricky, though, like all of this, because TY is certainly not obligated to hang out and wait while he sees if your first choice at center says yes or no.

DONUT 11: More Creativity

We've envisioned about a half-dozen ways to go about this, including the one above. For fun, here's another way to negotiate should Dallas get a "yes'' times two:

The players want their four-year/$80-mil deals. Standard stuff. What if we go non-standard? What if the two guys' desire to make this work (again, that wobbly reliance on cooperation) has them willing to listen to the notion of a series of contracts that span four years, rather than a single deal signed now?

By taking advantage of the rising cap coming from the NBA’s new TV deal, in that manner the Mavs can pay far more over the next four years than the net of $77-79M available from the old teams over the same time span in a single deal.

The route to the biggest contract possible would be a one-year deal this summer (with a player option for a second year), followed by the same contract structure in the summer of 2016, and then a deal in the summer of 2017 using Early Bird rights. It would look something like this:


On one level, this would be a huge win-win for both the Mavs and the player(s). It would solve the shortage in cap room for the Mavs in being able to get both Jordan and Aldridge, as both players would fit in the $30-mil-ish of available cap room. And it also rewards the player with a huge upside, exceeding the $80 mil offer needed by 20-25 percent!

There are negatives that come with this idea. For the Mavs, it would certainly be preferable to sign each player on a four-year deal where he is being paid at 2015 levels for four years, rather than pay at the higher rates to come. (And let’s understand that this ability to offer more money in this fashion is not exclusive to the Mavs, if the player wanted to try to pursue this elsewhere.) For the player? Would he really turn down the guarantee of a four-year deal for the "promise'' of a richer series of deals?

We won't know the answer unless and until a team (the Mavs or whomever) get two "yes'' answers ... and then start burning up the Creative Calculator, as we believe has done here.

If you desire even greater insight into these concepts, try Premium Mavs and read all about The Mavs Double-Pipedream of signing two max free agents.

DONUT 12: The Final Word

A final note on Free-Agency Eve: This is FUN. Over our 16 years, has fielded plenty of complaints from loyal Mavs fans burned out on the swings-and-misses come big-fish time. Most teams never get to the plate, though. And since the inception of the 2011 CBA, only two teams TOTAL have lured just two guys TOTAL away. So it's not that "the Mavs always lose in free agency,'' it's that "every bidder always loses.''


But you can't catch one fish (let alone two) if you don't cast a line (or two). Here's to good fishin', everybody!

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