Mavs Have 4 'What-If' Paths In Free Agency
The Mavs are going to attempt to land at least one big fish this summer in NBA free agency, and that chase appears to center on two big men who grew up in Texas, DeAndre Jordan and LaMarcus Aldridge. But the summer will be about more than those two. What comes next? It depends.
The answer hinges on what happens between the Mavs and those two, and how. But there are only four possibilities looming. Here’s how things might look for the Mavs on each of those paths.
The Mavs get neither (new) big fish.
While we have focused for weeks on the various aspects of the chase for one, the other, or both of these two players, we have said repeatedly that getting a big fish in free agency is always most likely to be unsuccessful. While this summer already has seemed to offer more promise than most pursuits, what if the Mavs land neither of these players, as must be expected?
PRIMARY CONSEQUENCE. The first thing the Mavs would do would be to make sure and retain their own free agent center, Tyson Chandler.
ADVANTAGES. This path offers the opportunity for the most well-rounded Mavs’ team in 2015-16. The starting front line would be in place and returning intact, consisting of TY, Dirk, and Parsons, and that continuity would help. The guards would consist of draftee Justin Anderson at SG, Harris and Felton at PG, and there would be perhaps as much as $20M left to split between two more guards and a backup forward. Maybe half of that would go to a pretty solid starter-caliber player at one of those guard positions. And then the rest of the roster slots would be filled by minimum salary veterans and perhaps a player like Barea or Calathes or Koponen getting the room MLE. The end result might look a lot like last year’s squad, except with the addition of at least one solid guard and also Anderson.
DISADVANTAGES. While the failure to land one of the top targets would increase the ability to spend in other areas, it would keep the team from adding to the longer-term core being built around Parsons, and while the immediate potential would be helped by the extra continuity, a playoff run gets harder with some of those key players getting up there in age, and even more depth might be needed. Of course, supporting cast members go by the wayside while you pursue big fish. Aminu is the Mavs' first to go, for a whopping deal in Portland.
The Mavs get both big fish.
While we admit that landing even one big fish would be exciting and incredible, we have to recognize that talent likes to be able to play with talent. Landing one might make it possible to land two. And we think two would certainly be better than one, even if it creates some issues. We've labeled this a "Double-Pipedream'' but that doesn't mean the idea should be ignored. The Mavs are aware of our calculations here, and concur with them.
PRIMARY CONSEQUENCE. After the Mavs signed (or sign-and-traded for) Aldridge (in some unspecified fashion), TY and Felton would undoubtedly be swapped to LA for Jordan. And unless Aldridge came via S&T, the free-agent spending room would be gone.
ADVANTAGES. A front line of Jordan, Dirk, Aldridge, and Parsons would be formidable, and other than Dirk, they would all appear to have many years to come. While it should be NBA sacrilege to mention it, it reminds me of the Celtics teams of the 80s, who loaded up with talent in the front court (including Bird, McHale, Parrish, Maxwell, Walton, etc) and then found guards who were seen as capable but not of the same caliber as the big men. Might the same roster-building formula work in this era? Rick Carlisle played on some of those 80s Celtics teams, and maybe he would have the formula that works if he was given that sort of talent.
DISADVANTAGES. If both Jordan and Aldridge are signed, the opportunity to spend elsewhere would be minimal. Unless the Mavs could find a way to make it all work over the cap, the rest of the summer would be spent looking for minimum salary veterans with talent who want to come aboard, plus the search for a player to add (probably another guard or wing) using the room MLE. Maybe that would work, but it’s a plan that requires careful sifting through players who have been overlooked by teams with big money. It’s a task the Mavs have done well in recent years, but always iffy as to which talent might be available at all.
The Mavs get one big fish, Aldridge.
If the Mavs get Aldridge but not Jordan, if they use cap room they will have spent about $19M and will have as much as $13M left to spend elsewhere. But they might try to get him via S&T, if a practical solution is available.
PRIMARY CONSEQUENCE. Regardless of whether they got Aldridge via S&T or via cap space, the Mavs would still need a center and the next move would be to sign TY.
ADVANTAGES, DISADVANTAGES. If they use cap room to sign Aldridge, the rest of their room would be spent on TY, and the result would look almost identical to the “two fish” scenario, where the Mavs have handled their front line but might be much weaker at guard. In this case, they would have TY rather than Jordan at center, which would make them older and on a shorter-term path, needing a better backup, and yet probably better in closing games with TY’s ability to make free throws.
However, if they were able to get Aldridge via S&T, after signing TY they would still have the full MLE and perhaps be able to wrangle other talent via other S&T moves as well. In any event, the over-cap scenario here would offer at least some, and maybe a lot, of extra opportunity to fill other needs after Aldridge and Ty are secured.
Aldridge has at least eight suitors. The Mavs make their presentation to him this afternoon in LA. So do the Spurs, who just re-upped Danny Green and who just dumped Splitter for room, causing us to wonder: Would they dump Splitter if they had anything but a positive vibe from Aldridge, who in addition to having a child in DFW has another young son in San Antonio?
The Mavs get one big fish, Jordan.
If the Mavs get Jordan but not Aldridge, they might use cap room, but they will almost certainly have an open door to acquire him via S&T instead.
PRIMARY CONSEQUENCE. If the Mavs land Jordan only, the Clippers will be without a center, without cap room to sign one, and will be somewhat desperate to get the Mavs to do a S&T with TY going to LA. The Mavs may help out, if the price is right, especially if they are already positioned to stay over the cap with other S&T moves using Ellis and/or Rondo. We've written that Ellis' deal needs to start at $10.032 mil to be most optimal for Dallas here. Fun fact: He's scheduled to visit with Indiana today among rumors of the Pacers discussing the idea of three years and $32 mil. Oh, and of course Amimu can be in play the same way in a swap involving the Blazers.
ADVANTAGES, DISADVANTAGES. Whether Jordan comes via cap room or via S&T, this path positions the Mavs for a well-rounded team, with either $13M in spending room left to add some help at guard, or trade-matching bringing help via S&T moves and other trades. At least one long-term piece is added, and maybe two (if the $13M or a trade adds a longer-term keeper at guard).
The Jordan concept seems especially viable after DB.com learned last night that his planned official meeting this morning will go on as scheduled (with all the bells and whistles and X's and O's and dollars and cents) even after last night's impromptu 9:01 California-time dinner meeting with the Mavs. Chandler Parsons drove that idea. Mark Cuban attended the get-together.
A Jordan get (like an Aldridge get) would also allow, of course, for an addition from another tier, starting with the likes of Wes Matthews, who dined with Dallas last night in LA but who comes with injury concerns that make him something short of ideal. (Search for the latest on any name and any subject here in the DB.com Archives Search Box.
But you don't always get "ideal.'' You get paths. And the Mavs now have four basic ones.
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