Mavs Hit Sign-N-Trade Trail: Possibilities

DeAndre Jordan ($80+M) and Wes Matthews ($57M) are done. On paper, the Mavs’ cap room is spent. But now the dealing starts – and with some slick trades, they can create one salary slot of $9.4M (to use on one player or split among several) or create two that can’t be combined but worth $6M-ish and $4M-ish. Dig into the creative world of Mavs Sign-and-Trade possibilities:



DeAndre Jordan ($80+M) and Wes Matthews ($57M) are done. On paper, the Dallas Mavericks’ cap room is spent. But now the dealing starts – and with some slick trades, they can create one salary slot of $9.4M (to use on one player or split among several) or create two that can’t be combined but worth $6M-ish and $4M-ish. Do they call LAC, Indy, Phoenix, or Portland first, and which trade ideas and partners don’t help much at all? Answers inside.

With the acquisition of Jordan and Matthews, it’s time for the Mavs to look for ways to address other needs. In theory, they have already spent everything they have to spend, and some players are coming while others are going. But if they find a way for some of those players to switch teams by trade (which in some cases might be preferable to all), then the Mavs have a chance to upgrade even more. Maybe much more.

Who is a potential sign-and-trade partner, and who won’t be?

When we began writing this outline, there were 4 possible trade partners, teams that are either getting a major Mavs player, or losing one to them. Sacramento was not included, because Rondo is only signing a one-year deal, not eligible for a sign-and-trade. But that still left 4 teams who might have their own needs and work with Dallas here: LA Clippers (Jordan to Dallas), Indy (Monta Ellis to Indy), Phoenix (Tyson Chandler to Phoenix), and Portland (Matthews to Dallas, Al Aminu to Portland).

However, with the breaking news that LaMarcus Aldridge has chosen to play in San Antonio, the Suns’ potential need and desire for a sign-and-trade to acquire Tyson Chandler has vanished. So we have eliminated them from our consideration as well.

In each of the other 3 situations, with movement already happening, a trade can be fashioned by adding something going the other way, and it needs incentive for each of the teams to do a swap rather than simply sign a player and be on their way. We’ll take a quick glance at each potential trade partner, and possible ideas involving them with Dallas in the sign-and-trade process, and see which make the most sense with the greatest benefit.

As we start, we need to note that we are assuming the NBA’s cap is set at $69.0M, and that Peteri Koponen is headed to Europe. Changing those won’t kill these ideas, but would impact the bottom line numbers here and there.

PHOENIX

Even though we believe the door is now shut on the viability of a sign-and-trade of Tyson Chandler to Phoenix, with Aldridge headed to the Spurs, we want to leave a quick explanation as to why we think this door is now shut.

The issue here is that the Mavs would do a S&T in order to gain some benefit. But in order to persuade the Suns to do such a trade, without having any reason to need one, the Mavs would have to offer them something of value, and the Mavs goal instead is to only consider trades that offer some extra to the Mavs, rather than taking something away. They also would have no value in simply obtaining a TE (ie, trading TY for essentially nothing in return), as that TE would be voided when they went under the cap to obtain Jordan and/or Matthews. So we believe this is a dead end, and will examine possibilities elsewhere.

LA CLIPPERS

LAC, losing Jordan and with no cap room to replace him, is reportedly very eager to work a deal with the Mavs, if only to get a Trade Exception. But should the Mavs help out a competitor, who is already good, or not? Our sense is that the benefit to Dallas needs to be commensurate with the amount of help it provides the competition, and would recommend the price be no less than a first-round pick plus something else of benefit. So while simply saying no to LA may be wise, we’ll look here anyhow.

LAC Idea 1 –Mavs send Ellis and Felton to Indy, Indy sends Hibbert to LAC, and LAC sends Jordan and a 1st round pick to Dallas. (Depending on where the league’s cap is set, LAC might also have to send a minimum salary player to Indy to satisfy trade rules.) This idea is one we’ve offered previously and derives from the knowledge that Indy would dearly love to get rid of center Roy Hibbert, while LAC badly needs a center. Getting rid of Felton’s salary would open up an additional $3.4M in spending room. (We believe the Mavs would rather have $3.4M to spend, than to have Felton as a backup PG.)

About that pick from LAC, they can trade a 2019 1st rounder, and simply put “if/then” conditions on it that address what happens if the 2017 pick they owe doesn’t go in 2017, or 2018, etc. But even if they have to wait, it’s worth it to get a 1st rounder that will one day down the road give them something more, and maybe it will be a good pick by then.

And given the risk entailed by the Mavs in helping the Clippers, we believe the pick should not be able to dissolve into a 2nd-rounder or nothingness after waiting for many years, but instead needs to be certain to be conveyed if the Mavs have to wait many years, because the Clippers benefit will be certain and immediate.

Benefit to Dallas: 1st round pick added, plus $3.4M in added spending room.

LAC Idea 2 – Mavs send Ellis to Indy and Felton to LAC, Indy sends David West via sign-and-trade to LAC, and LAC sends Jordan and a 1st round pick to Dallas and something of value to Indy (and if necessary, a minimum salary player to Indy).

Some are reporting that LAC would prefer to get David West, an Indy free agent, over Hibbert. However, unless Indy really has a desire for Felton, we believe he would also have to go to LAC to keep the deal from being a negative for Indy. Indy’s willingness to participate here is questionable, and we suggest that if LAC wants this version of a trade with Dallas, they will have to be the ones to provide Indy with whatever else it would take to get them to participate.

Benefit to Dallas: 1st round pick added, plus $3.4M in added spending room.

LAC Idea 3
– Mavs send Felton to LAC for Jordan and first-round pick

In this trade, LAC nets a Trade Exception of about $7.5M, which they can then use to find a player or players of their choice, presumably a center.

Benefit to Dallas: 1st round pick added, plus $3.4M in added spending room.

INDIANA


Indiana, with a center they don’t seem to want (Hibbert) and LAC’s need for help at that position, is an obvious place to look for a sign-and-trade since Ellis is already headed there from Dallas and LA has no means by which to get Hibbert on their own. So the framework of the trade we mentioned several days ago (LAC Idea 1, above), using the concept of sending Ellis to Indy, Hibbert to LAC, and Jordan to Dallas is now being mentioned everywhere. But we see other possibilities involving the Pacers.

Indy Idea 1 and 2 – see LAC Idea 1 and 2, above, for elaboration and evaluation of two trades involving the Pacers

Indy Idea 3 – Mavs send Ellis, Felton, and Powell (or B James sign-and-trade) to Indy, Indy sends Hibbert to Portland, and Portland sends Matthews to Dallas.

If LAC really doesn’t want Hibbert, maybe Portland (who offered him his current contract as a restricted free agent, and which Indy matched) does. The Blazers lost Robin Lopez to the Knicks, and while they acquired Mason Plumlee in trade, they may want more help at the position. It needs to be noted that this trade adds Powell or B James to increase the net benefit for the Mavs, and is predicated on the possibility that Ellis will be getting a starting salary big enough to trigger a Base Year reduction in trade-match value down to $8.36M. By adding that small salary (which can obviously be offset by cash from the Mavs, if absolutely necessary) the entire salary of Felton creates a Trade Exception back to the Mavs of $3.95M which can be used in a different trade to add another player. And Indy is still reaping a massive benefit, being able to move Hibbert’s $15.5M contract at only the cost of Felton +.

There is an added spending benefit to the Mavs in this idea. To trade Ellis (and perhaps James), the Mavs will have to set aside room on their cap to hold rights or to have cap space for signing those players to contracts that are traded. But after they first acquire Jordan and then set aside that space, but before this trade is made, there will be about $3M in cap space still unused. So the Mavs can first spend that cap room, then do this trade for Matthews, thereby in the process adding the ability to obtain another ~$3M player (like J J Barea?). The viability of this trade probably hinges on whether Portland wants Hibbert, and if they will participate to get him this way. It’s possible that the player included (Powell or James) will be of value to the Blazers in which case he could be routed that direction instead. It must be noted that in order to include James, he must be willing to be sign-and-traded to Indy on a 3-year minimum-ish salary deal with one year (or more) fully guaranteed. We don’t think he would object.

Benefit to Dallas: $3M in spending room, and a TE worth $3.95M that can be traded for a $4M player later.

PORTLAND


The Blazers are losing Matthews to Dallas, and the idea would be to find a “something” they would want that would persuade them to send him via S&T.

Portland Idea 1 – see Indy Idea 3 above for elaboration and evaluation of one trade involving the Blazers

Portland Idea 2 – Mavs send Powell, B James (S&T) and Aminu (S&T) to Portland, perhaps with something more, for Matthews.

This idea simply squeezes out more cap room for the Mavs, and there will be a cost but it might not be very high. Aminu is already headed to Portland, and the other 2 players would be added for trade matching purposes with the idea that maybe Powell is enough of a “something extra” to do the job.

The “something extra”? We’re thinking it might be necessary for the Mavs to add some cash to the deal (to pay for one or more of those small salaries) and it might also require a future 2nd round pick, but because Matthews wasn’t a player the Blazers really wanted to keep, we believe the price would be minor. Just something of value to the Blazers.

We would also note that if the Blazers don’t have a desire for Powell (ie if he isn’t seen to them as being something of value) and/or the Mavs really like him, he should be replaced by a S&T of G Smith.

To get the max value from this idea, it would have to be sequenced like the other one involving the Blazers (Indy Idea 3 above), with the Mavs first obtaining Jordan and then spending some unused space, before doing this deal. In this case, that unused space created and available to spend elsewhere would total almost $6M (or about $5.5M if Powell is kept and G Smith is used instead).

As mentioned earlier, adding players like James and Smith in these sign-and-trades would require their willingness to accept a 3-year minimum-ish salary contract with one year (or more) fully guaranteed, but we don’t think that would present a problem. Benefit to Dallas: $6M in added spending room.

OUR PREFERRED SCENARIO(S)

In our opinion, we believe the Mavs should do TWO of the above trades. Here’s what we recommend, and keep in mind that all these moves and player acquisitions can be lined up in advance and simply ticked off in order, one after another, in short order.

Step 1 – Sign and trade for Jordan, and let the Clippers fashion their choice of LAC Idea 1, 2 or 3. In each of those trades, the Mavs net the same thing (a 1st round pick and an added $3.4M in spending room, with Felton no longer on the roster), while the Clippers would get their preference of either Hibbert, West or a $7.5M trade exception., at varying costs to them. Depending on their choice, Indy may or may not be involved too.
Step 2 – Set aside cap space, for later signing Aminu, along with James and/or Smith. After this is done, there would be about $9.4M in cap room left over (or $9.0M if they were sending both Smith and James to Portland).
Step 3 – Spend that $9.4M (or $9.0M) on free agents. And if the Mavs wish to split that among more than one player, each player after the first will add $0.5M to the total available to be spent.

What doors would having another $9.4M open? Certainly that’s enough to add Barea, with about $6-7M left over for a starting point guard, and/or money for a backup big man. Keep in mind that the Mavs don’t have to wait until the moment they finish the prior steps to look for ways to spend this money – they could be doing it now, if they line up the trades and know it will be available.

Step 4 – Sign-and-trade Aminu, and Smith and/or James, to Portland for Matthews.
Step 5 – Now the Mavs cap room is gone, and they can add a player using the room MLE of $2.814M.
Step 6 – Sign minimum salary players to fill out the rest of the roster. That’s our plan. A couple of sign-and-trades, and some added cap room bringing more talent, and a future pick for down the road. Here’s hoping the Mavs create one even better than ours.




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