Exclusive: Mavs Get Cowboys To Help FA Pitch
The Dallas Mavericks and owner Mark Cuban are pulling out all the stops in their attempts to pitch free agents LaMarcus Aldridge and DeAndre Jordan come July 1. Oh, there will be the usual suspects (doing something unusual, as you'll see below). Chandler Parsons is involved. Rick Carlisle is involved. Donnie Nelson is involved. And Dirk Nowitzki plays a role.
But Dallas Cowboys sources tell me members of "America's Team'' plan to do some of the same. And the list of recruiting helpers, sources say, includes headliners Dez Bryant, Tony Romo and Jerry Jones.
"We're preparing to do what we have to do, and we're going to go out there and do it,'' Cuban says ... and here is some of that preparation:
*I've learned that Cuban will be at the master controls of free agency while based in L.A. The reasoning? Maybe DeAndre Jordan will be there, and maybe he'll have Parsons in tow. But additionally, Cuban wants to be where the agents are ... and there is a cluster of powerbrokers who are LA-based.
*Parsons has in recent days attached himself to Jordan, with whom he is friendly. The Mavs are under the impression that they are on Jordan's short list, and the LA Times notes that they are joined there by his present team, the Clippers, along with the Bucks and Lakers.
*The Lakers are reportedly "front-runners'' for LaMarcus Aldridge. So why would the Mavs also be on Jordan's list? Because, frankly, it's too early to proclaim "front-runners.'' Indeed, sources close to this situation are careful to tell me that Dallas' massive pitch isn't just toward Jordan and his love for the Cowboys. The same large entourage will pitch to Aldridge, too. We believe he is very receptive to the idea of leaving Portland and will listen to Dallas' pitch.
*Jordan and Aldridge won't listen to all of this because they are Texas natives (though that can't hurt); they'll do it because listening to the pitch and being courted is a big part of the entire point of this exercise. Oh, and they might listen to it with more intensity (and more entertainment) with Dez, Romo and Jerry involved.
And they will be involved, at some level -- that's info I've been given directly from the principles. This doesn't mean the three of them (and I believe other Cowboys) are jetting to the doorsteps of the NBA stars on July 1; it can mean videos, conference calls, phone calls ... but both the Mavs and the Cowboys consider this "involvement in the pitch'' and hope Jordan and Aldridge see it the same way ... and see it as flattery. (I know Jordan, a huge Cowboys and Dez fan, will. I'll assume the Mavs have done enough research on Aldridge to see similar value and justification.)
To any concerns that this "takes away'' from the Cowboys' own work: Again, some of the contributions could be as brief as a phone call. Additionally, Cowboys fans should take this as a positive Dez/Jerry sign; they're on the same team! Furthermore, a high tide raises all boats. What's good for Cuban's team is good for Jerry's team is good for DFW.
*There is more to come, of course. The Mavs hope that goes for virtually everyone up and down their wish list, including other "big fish,'' restricted standouts like Jimmy Butler, and roster-filler candidates like Mo Williams. On the lesser guys, the Mavs will ask that they wait their turn. On the Jordan/Aldridge level, the Mavs are prioritizing but, as DallasBasketball.com has reported, is receptive to the notion (with those two, certainly) of the players picking Dallas rather than Dallas picking the players. But it does begin with those two.
*What happens in the unlikely event both if both Jordan and Aldridge say "yes'' to the Dallas pitch? There are ways of making that work for the Mavs, as DB.com reported earlier this spring in this exclusive and detailed breakdown. I've seen dozens of reports that it's impossible. Those reports are wrong. The correct word is "improbable.'' I'm not making a prediction that the Double Pipedream WILL happen; not at all. But it's important to know that it CAN happen.
An example: Operate as an over-the-cap team. Instead of working with about $70 mil in cap room (a $67 mil cap plus a $3million-ish room MLE), the limit would become the $85.7-mil apron. Within the confines of that $85.7-mil cap, the Mavs could have more assets, be able to retain more existing players and picks rather than get rid of some to clear room, and there could be a bigger MLE (about $5.5 mil) plus a BAE (about $2 mil) to use to add more talent.
One player would need a deal starting at $19 mil. Two? They'd each need $19 mil (assuming they'd desire the max, which they would). To get one guy in this fashion? The Mavs would need to salary-match by sending away at least $14 mil in outgoing salary (to somewhere). The issue would be to find the right set of outgoing to somehow entice both LA and Portland.
*We believe there’s an easy, obvious, no-brainer answer regarding LA. If the Clippers lose Jordan, they would lack cap space to replace him in free agency. So the answer there would be to swap Chandler for Jordan in a 1-for-1 swap, with TY getting a deal starting at $14 mil. (If LA negotiated a bit smaller deal with TY, the Mavs could and would add a minimum salary player or two to the swap.) As a major consolation prize, that’s a huge win for LA, and doesn’t seem hard to envision at all, if Jordan opts to come to Dallas. (Read more on 10 Mavs Steps to DeAndre here.)
In fact, this one is such a fit and also a necessity for LA that we believe if the Mavs were signing Jordan using cap room, LA would be the one desperately pursuing a sign-and-trade instead, and the Mavs could coax a future pick and perhaps other assets for cooperating.
*But when it comes to Portland, the path is not as clear. That goes for Aldridge as part of a Double Pipedream or Aldridge by himself.
The primary asset to use in a salary match for a trade with the Blazers (beyond TY) would be either Ellis (if he leaves) or Rondo, but we don’t think either would necessarily be of interest to the Blazers, nor net a salary big enough to match $14 mil. (It must be noted that Ellis, coming off an $8.36M salary with the Mavs, would only count for his prior salary, if the new salary exceeds $10.32 mil. Thus, Dallas is hoping for that big payday for him.)
If Rondo gets a deal from someone that exceeds $10M-ish, then ideally the Mavs could cobble together a multi-team deal in which Rondo and Felton are sent here or there, with Aldridge landing in Dallas and some desirable assets going to Portland. The possibility that the Mavs might simply sign Aldridge, with Portland getting nothing instead of something, would be the key, so the Mavs would have to make sure that Portland’s return on the deal is seen as a plus to them. And who knows, maybe Rondo or Ellis have real appeal to them, in which case a deal would be much easier.
*The over-the-cap route is iffier. And getting both guys is wildly iffy. But again, this sign-and-trade path works for just one guy, too ... And given Dallas' swings-and-misses in big-fish free agency, one guy would be wonderful. (And then you build from there, with the Danny Green/Wes Matthews types and the Mo Williams/Jeremy Lin/Koponen types. (We broke the Koponen story and hope the reader came away with the understanding that Dallas will bring him over if it needs to do so. Percentages are tough because ... well, they don't know what they need yet.)
*But here's how tricky this juggling act is for the Mavs, as Cuban's recruiting lieutenants ready those boots to be on the ground: DB.com has learned that the recruiting party -- including Parsons certainly, and likely led by Nelson and Carlisle -- will travel as a group. Dallas won't send two reps to one doorstep and two other reps to another doorstep.
The first big-fish pitch will be an ensemble piece ... and so will the next pitch. And it will take some skill to let Jordan/Aldridge know that he is coveted like no other ... and then travel to/from Houston to let Aldridge/Jordan know that he, too, is coveted like no other. Maybe the solution to that "skill'': Flood the two stars with love not only from the Mavs, but from the Cowboys, too.
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