Dirk Nowitzki has revealed the two sides of the coin when it comes to his coming coin:
On the one side: "I've got to help myself a little bit.''
On the other side: "Whatever's the best (move) for the franchise.''
Good for him and good for the Dallas Mavericks and guess what? DB.com has carved out an idea that can satisfy both sides of Dirk's thinking and all sides involved in his coming decision.
Dirk can opt-out of his existing deal (with $8.6 mil for 2016-17) and make more when he boomerangs back to Dallas. As Fish writes here in review of Nowitzki's latest thoughts on the matter, his "Help Myself'' is likely all about wanting a bigger piece of the pie only if that money is about to be otherwise wasted on inferior talent. If the money goes to making Dallas a truly better team? Fine, then Dirk takes less because "Whatever's Best For The Franchise.''
But why not accomplish both? All in one bold stroke that takes Twilight Dirk through his desired "two more years''?
By opting out and becoming a free agent, Dirk will be able to re-sign with the Mavs for any amount, from a first-year salary as small as minimum wage ($1,551,659) to as large as his maximum (expected to be about $30,189,000).
Our two-year plan calls for Dallas to give Dirk ... both. Or, actually, more than both.
Our "Min/Max'' Dirk Contract would have him being paid at the extremes on what in essence are one-year deals each time (although options for a second year can be included, that then go unused). It has to start with a year (2016-17) at the minimum, followed by a year at way, way more, maybe even the max salary if that's what the parties desire. The second year would ultimately be paid via a deal made in 2017, as the CBA doesn't allow huge jumps in a contract from year to year.
For example, the 2016 deal would give him $1.55 mil this year. Then the 2017 one would pay up to as much as $36-mil max salary the next year (based on cap projections for 2017-18). The key is that the first year has to be for the minimum (only), and then the next year there are Bird rights to offer any amount up to the max.
Do the Mavs not want Dirk to take up huge cap room in the next two years. Correct. That would be nice.
Does Dirk like the idea of making around $37 mil over the next two years ($1.55 mil plus $36 mil) instead of around half of that (this year's $8.6 mil plus, maybe, a similar amount in 2017)? Correct. That would be nice.
Why do we suggest the "Min/Max'' Dirk Contract? It's about a reward for the player, sure, but it's also about the ultimate in cap creativity and the best possible way to invent cap flexibility. Dirk's cap hit in this scenario would be the minimum salary each and every year, allowing significant added spendable cap room to acquire more talent. And if the team is an "over-the-cap" team some summer, without any need for cap room, there would be no need to pay only the minimum to increase cap room for roster-building.
Use this approach this summer and the Mavs would erase Dirk's option-year salary and gain an extra $8.15 mil in spendable cap room. (Meaning our present working number for shopping room goes from about $32 mil to $40 mil - a huge advantage. See our $92-mil Mavs toolbox here.) The following summer, Dallas has presumably the same or more advantage.
Part of the cleverness here: If Dirk wants to play longer than two years, the same two-year cycle can be repeated as many times as desired, with the same effect. Min/Max. Min/Max. Min/Max. Into perpetuity. And the cap is never negatively impacted.
But for now, knowing that Dirk's stated desire is to play two and then retire:
Step 1: Dirk ops out
Step 2: Dirk signs in 2016 for the minimum
Step 3: Dirk signs a new deal in 2017 for the full $36 mil max
The first deal helps Dirk get better teammates. The second deal does the same, comes with fanfare that the 2017-18 season is Dirk's 20th and last, and that the Mavs are paying him a suitable amount to honor him properly, he gets the rocking-chair treatment ... and he gets better teammates again, two years of near-ideal roster-building latitude, all with no negative cap impact. (We discuss all of this in Premium DB.com Mavs Boards here. Well-worth a dime a day for serious Mavs fans.
The one wrinkle here that is a cause for pause: It would take mutual trust between Dirk and Cuban. Dirk must use the opt-outs only as a path to return to Dallas. Cuban must pledge to keep his word regarding an unwritten commitment to get Nowitzki the $36 mil when its due. But for whatever Dallas lacks, trust between these two MFFLs -- who are both aware that their Mavs need a pair of wildly successful summers to return to contention -- isn't one of them.
We're proud of having examined similar "cap tricks'' in the past here at DallasBasketball.com ("The DUST Chip'' and "Van Horn's Ghost'' among them) and then proud to watch as the tricks are put into place. We humbly submit that Dirk Nowitzki needs to know about the availability of this unprecedented trick and that Mark Cuban needs to implement it.
It's win-win. It's Min/Max.