Mavericks critics keep telling Mark Cuban to not just take one avenue to talent acquisition. They seem almost fortified at Dallas's first-day big-fish free-agent flop, using it as "proof'' that the Mavs singularly over-emphasize The Big Fish as the only way to get better.
But if we would quit yelling for just a moment we might be able to hear the sound of Dallas preparing to explore other avenues.
First, did you want them to try for the big fish and upon failing… Give up?
Prepare yourself to be disappointed again because the Mavericks do have plans, sources indicate to DallasBasketball.com, that can take them down secondary and tertiary paths. (Of course, if these concepts also fail? Well, be prepared for that, too. And I'll be prepared to hear more yelling.)
I posed the question to two different Mavs powerbrokers this way:
"Can a viable next step be to check out the NBA teams who in the next few days are filled up with 'bloat' - and to use your cap room and whatever little else you have in your cupboard to trade for that talent?"
Answers? Yes and yes.
This is your next important avenue. Not as splashy and not as flashy as the Mavs "Double-Pipedream" of Mike Conley (spurning the Mavs to stay in Memphis) and Hassan Whiteside (spurning the Mavs to stay in Miami) and "Plan A-2'' of Nic Batum (spurning the Mavs to stay in Charlotte). ... but it's what's next
Wait ... to move onto this "Bloat Relief Trade Idea'' aren't we skipping over Tier-2 (or even Tier-3) free agents? Yup. Sources told DB.com throughout the day Friday on free agency's opening day that they were not at all interested in the likes of Marvin Williams or Evan Turner or Kent Bazemore or Ian Mahinmi. The reason: "Fiscal responsibility.''
And maybe that's a fail, too. We write here that maybe the Mavs, featuring Chandler Parsons, are completely botching the question of "What's Worth The Max?'' And, hell, they may botch this next avenue as well.
But there is a blueprint being sketched out here inside of Mavs HQ ... if there is an opportunity to take advantage of.
Go into what you're about to read understanding:
1) The Mavericks are not planning to tank. There is nothing fun about it and there's nothing funny about it. It's a grossly unattractive idea.
2) The Mavs are all about assuaging Dirk. There is nothing being done here with the idea that tracks should be greased for a Nowitzki exit. In fact, the people I talk to inside of the Mavs keep stressing how "Culture Matters'' and how new roster members need to be able to work with Dirk and learn from Dirk.
And until he says he wants none of that pro-Dallas stuff for himself, you needn't bother wanting a change for him.
So having said that ... "The Bloat-Relief Trade Idea.''
My 105.3 The Fan colleague Jeff "Skin'' Wade is one of a very short list of media guys who have true Mavs insight. He also joins DB.com's David Lord as one of the short-list guys with legit Mavs cap insight. So - having been assured by those my two Mavericks sources that it is a viable option - I'm kicking around the idea of the "Bloat Trade'' with Skin ...
And we have come up with a handful of examples for how Dallas can chase this.
BLOAT Example 1) Kevin Durant stays in OKC and they acquire Al Horford = Enes Kanter To Dallas
Horford (or Millsap?) might exit Atlanta now that Dwight Howard is there (and because Bazemore is, too) because they have their own bloat. (and yeah, maybe Dallas should poke around the Hawks roster, too. But let's stay on point.)
We won't work up any hard numbers here but just keep it round and general. (I predict David Lord will get hold of this story and put hard numbers together on DB.com Premium Boards.) But a future team that adds a player like this might need to strip down somewhere. ... rid itself of "bloat.''
How about if that somewhere comes in the form of Enes Kanter?
Kanter, the 6-11 center, is just 24 years old and has three years remaining on his four-year, $70-million contract he signed last year. That gives him salaries of $17.1 million in 2016-17 and $17.9 million in 2017-18 with an $18.6 million player option in 2018-19.
That doesn't look very pricy right now, does it?
And while Dallas is exploring OKC, let's mention Ersan Ilyasova, too. There's a 28-year-old backup stretch-4 entering the final year of his deal in 2016-17 with a salary of Skin smartly notes the importance of that final-year thing. (Why? Because next year's free-agent class is outstanding, and teams like Dallas and everyone else will want ... wait for it ... Dry Powder. I know you hate it, but it's true.) But the "Bloat Trade'' fits here. You can accept "expensive'' players back, especially if they are good and young and less expensive than free agency was. And you have "control'' of them. And in exchange: Dallas can give OKC cheap players along with the Mavs' $58 million with of room to facilitate all of this. (There is no salary-match constraint here while you're under the cap.)
BLOAT Example 2) Miami Needs Cap Relief = Goran Dragic To Dallas
Let's throw Kevin Durant into this conversation, too: What if he goes to Miami; how do they afford all those people? Whiteside is back at the salary that starts around $22 mil and Wade wants his $30 mil. Heck, even without Durant, Miami cannot presently do all the things it wants to do.
Goran is a 14-points/6-assists point guard who makes $15.9 million this season and is under contract long-term. Skin wonders if Miami -- so point-guard thin without him -- might ask for an affordable replacement like Devin Harris in trade.
Speaking of Wade and the Mavs ...
While Dallas is talking to Miami, by the way, go ahead and ask about forward Josh McRoberts, too. Miami might see him as "bloat'' and yet his salary is just $5.8 million.
We could throw in here the idea that there might be other free agents on Miami's roster and elsewhere who get squeezed and end up being the affordable middle class that could land in Dallas. The Mavericks actually always do a very good job on "on-the-shelf'' free agents (like Monta Ellis and Deron Williams) ... Some of those may end up on the street.
And a PS here: The idea of D-Will back to Dallas is a very viable one, in many circumstances. ... a story for another day.
BLOAT Example 3: Golden State Needs Cap Relief = Andrew Bogut to Dallas
And once again Durant's names come into play in our example because if he goes the Warriors, Golden State would need to strip down some of its existing ballast. So, in the Fish and Skin discussion, the Mavs call them and offer to give them some relief by taking on Bogut ... who would obviously be the starting center here in Dallas.
Bogut is 32 and is starting to struggle to stay healthy. But he's entering the final year of his contract -- important, as Skin noted above -- and will make a base salary of $11.03 million in 2016-17, very cheap in today's market.
These are just three possibilities. There are these other avenues and they matter. (DallasBasketball.com long ago covered the possibility of a Tyson Chandler buyout in Phoenix, for example, and TY's willingness, in that event, to return to the Mavs). Will there be Clippers bloat or Celtics bloat? Can Memphis keep Randolph and Allen and B-Wright and all those parts?
Neither Skin nor I can argue that any of this is as "sexy'' as whatever team's headlines when it gets Durant, or as sexy as the Mavs swinging big for that Double-Pipedream. But some execution in terms of driving down "Bloat-Trade Avenue" would go along way to keeping your team competitive and keeping Dirk a part of that team ... and yes, those are still Mavericks goals.