"We need a f---ing playmaker," LeBron James says.
The Dallas Mavericks have one to spare, we respond.
Or, actually, the Mavs have two to spare.
”I’m not saying you can just go find one, like you can go outside and see trees,’’ LeBron told reporters on Monday after his mighty Cleveland Cavaliers lost on Monday to the lowly New Orleans Pelicans, the Cavs’ fifth loss in the seven games. “I didn't say that."
Ah, but in Dallas, where the Mavs seem on the lip of the cup of accepting their lottery fate, expendable pieces are plentiful. (And part of the rebuild blueprint, as our David Lord outlines with great specificity here.) Especially at point guard, which is what LeBron is talking about here.
As James’ comments circulate around the NBA, there will be a great deal of speculation about Dallas’ Deron Williams, who is playing on a one-year $9-mil contract for the 15-29 Mavs, and is just the type of player LeBron covets. But as DallasBasketball.com performs its calculations here, Deron and the Cavs seems a difficult trade-match fit.
That contract might be a tad much for a Cleveland team that is payroll-swamped and tax-concerned. And what do the Cavs give back that both matches and helps Dallas?
So … is there a better match? A more suitable idea?
Yes. Devin Harris to Cleveland.
Harris, a favorite of the Mavs organization, is playing for $4.2 mil this year (and $4.4 mil next year). With half the annual contract size of Deron, he’s literally twice as easy to trade, in this specific way: Cleveland owns a trade exception big enough to take Devin without any salary-matching needed, and that expires right about the time we get to the Feb. 23 NBA trade deadline.
Devin would fit in the sense that Dallas could give him up for that without taking on any salary ballast — unlike Deron, who, if he’s traded to the Cavs, forces Cleveland to send $6 million in salary to somewhere, presumably Dallas.
Who on the Cavs roster can be a piece of Dallas’ future at that rate? Does 33-year-old Channing Frye excite you? (Note: The Cavs can engineer a three-way deal that removes some of these obstacles but obviously complicates the process.)
So back to Devin. Dallas gives him up, fits him with the trade exception, and takes a future first-rounder (or more, such as a few right-to-swaps and a Euro-stash) as compensation. No ballast to load the Mavs down on this side. And on the Cleveland side, where they’ve already traded away their first-rounders in 2017 and 2019-20, a pick given to Dallas beyond those drafts … and a satisfied LeBron.