Jan 5, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) celebrates making a three point against the Dallas Mavericks during the first half at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Mavericks: Setting the Stage For 2015 Free Agency


Free agency is close at hand, and you tend to think crazy things. The Dallas Mavericks probably think the same way.

A big-name free agent picks your team, immediately you start to ponder the insane possibilities.

For the Mavs, the summer of 2014 is an important time for the franchise. The Mavs are one of the teams that will get a visit from Carmelo Anthony when the calendar turns to July 1 next week.

The Mavs have been longing for a big-time free agent to come to Dallas, and chances of that happening increased on Wednesday when Tyson Chandler was re-acquired from the New York Knicks in a six-player trade.

Chandler was a key reason why Dallas won the championship in 2011 and now that he’s back after a three-year vacation in New York, he’ll fit perfectly alongside Dirk Nowitzki to create one of the league’s most intimidating frontcourts.

That’s where Carmelo comes in.

Dallas will surely pitch that aspect to Carmelo, as well as the winning culture that Dallas brings. Even Chandler said himself on Thursday during a conference call with members of the Dallas media, that Dallas isn’t a hard place to sell.

But it’s not just 2014 the Mavs have in mind. They also want to pitch Carmelo on the possibility that they can secure another big-time free agent in the summer of 2015.

Think about it: The Mavs can contend with Carmelo this upcoming season, and then could become perennial favorites in 2015.

After breaking down the numbers and thinking a little outside the box, it’s not only more than possible, but it can be done.

Keep in mind that this could also work for LeBron James if he’s just as interested in coming to Dallas as Carmelo is. LeBron would probably like the idea of playing with Dirk and Chandler in that frontcourt, but I’m still led to believe it’ll be more realistic for the Mavs to secure Carmelo more than LeBron.

So, for those who fancy salary cap talk, you came to the right place. We’re going to break down the Mavs’ 2014 salary cap situation with Carmelo on the roster, as well as 2015. I should make clear that none of this is Dallas’ actual plan. These are numbers and notes that I created that work best for the Mavs to stay under the salary cap and remain in contention for years to come.

I feel like Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban should give me a job after this is done, but I digress.

Without further ado, let’s get to it.

 

First, some notes to consider while reading.

Carmelo can command a max contract, if he so chooses. He’s eligible for a max deal of four years, $96 million. If he re-signs with New York, he’ll get an extra year, plus a little more than $30 million extra. All signs point to Carmelo leaving New York, so expect the other three franchises he’s listed to be in play. But regardless of what team he decides to go to (Dallas, Houston or Chicago), he may have to take less than the max to make any of the situations work.

Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

So, in order for the Mavs to be real players in 2014, as well as 2015, Carmelo wouldn’t get max dollar from Dallas, but he’d be close to it. For this instance, and this project, we’ll give Carmelo the same contract as Dwight Howard: four years, $88 million. If it wanted to, Dallas could up the amount to around $90 million

In order for this to really work, the Mavs would have to get creative with the money. The salary cap is at $63.2 million this summer, so the Mavs have some financial flexibility in their favor, but they still need to make some moves.

 

Breakdown of the Mavs’ current salary heading into 2014.

ShamSports.com is very reliable when it comes to NBA salaries. We’ll be using the salary information on their website.

Right now, as of June 28, this is how Dallas’ salary looks:

Total for that comes to $34,298,788, meaning the Mavs would have just less than $20 million to work with.

Let the fun begin.

 

How can this work?

First things first: As much as it pains to say it, the Mavs will need to move Brandan Wright and his $5 million. That would put Dallas’ salary at $29,298,788 with six players on the roster. If the Mavs could get cash considerations for the deal, more power to them, but at this rate, just get a second-round pick or something.

Now, here’s the key in all of this. If this doesn’t happen, although it more than likely would if Carmelo does choose Dallas, it could be very tough for the Mavs to stay under the salary cap.

Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Dirk would need to take a bigger pay cut than he’s already been asked to do.

The number thrown around the most has been $10 million, which is about the same as what Tim Duncan makes. In order for the Mavs to have enough financial flexibility to get more pieces, Dirk may need to be asked to take about $3 million less. So you’re looking at about $7 million per year for Dirk, which probably wouldn’t be the end of the world for him.

If that happens, the Mavs move up to a shade more than $36 million in salary with seven spots filled, and $26 million to work with.

As mentioned before, Dallas would still be in prime position to give Carmelo a max contract. But if the Mavs were to do that, even if they did get creative with the numbers, it would be more difficult to bring in other free agents. Dallas can go over the cap if it chooses, but the key is to stay under.

Let’s say Carmelo goes to Dallas on that four-year, $88 million deal that resembles Dwight Howard‘s. Carmelo’s first-year salary would be a shade more than $20.5 million, so the Mavs’ salary would then be at approximately $56,798,788 with four roster spots left to fill.

 

Now to re-sign Devin Harris, Vince Carter, Shawn Marion and DeJuan Blair.

Dallas has its guy, now with just less than $7 million to work with and four roster spots to fill. It’s time to get some key players resigned.

Harris wants about $3 million per year in his next deal, but he may be asked to take a million or two less. Marion and Carter would be more than willing to take a huge pay cut, and Blair would be happy for even a little more money than last year.

Here’s what it would look like.

  • Carmelo – Appx. $20.5 million
  • Chandler – $14,596,888
  • Monta – $8.36 million
  • Dirk – Appx. $7 million
  • Felton – $3,793,693
  • Harris – Appx. $2 million
  • Carter – Appx. $1.5 million
  • Marion – Appx. $1.5 million
  • Blair – Appx. $1 million
  • Crowder – $915,243
  • Ledo – $816,482
  • Mekel – $816,482

The total for that? $62,798,788; about $500,000 less than the salary cap heading into the 2014 season. Also to note, the deals for Harris, Carter, Blair and Marion would each be multi-year deals.

 

First Reactions?

  • That’s one hell of a team. A starting five of Harris, Ellis, Melo, Dirk and Chandler with that bench would be stellar.
  • A bit undersized after Dirk and Chandler. Marion and Blair would be asked to do a lot in the frontcourt, but they’re capable.
  • Possibly more time for Jae Crowder and Ricky Ledo, and that’s either good or bad.

But that’s why Carmelo comes to Dallas; it’s not all just about 2014. Here comes 2015, and the Mavs could be in position to get more frontcourt help, with more salary cap.

We enter the summer of LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love.

Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

What about 2015? That’s possible, too.

A few things to keep in mind heading into 2015.

  • Chandler’s contract comes off the books.
  • Monta and Felton both have player options they can exercise.
  • Ricky Ledo enters non-guaranteed money territory, so his contract can come off the books.
  • Jae Crowder also has a qualifying offer of $1.18 million.
  • Salary cap increases to $66.5 million for 2015-16 season.

It wouldn’t be surprising at all if Ellis declined his player option and signed back with the Mavs at a cheaper rate. Felton? It depends how he plays this season, but for this experiment, we’ll say Felton declines his option.

If the Mavs are serious on bringing in Love or Aldridge, Chandler would need to take on a smaller contract. Yes, the Mavs will resign Chandler this time because it’s the right thing to do. We’ll say, for a backup center, $5 million a year will do just fine.

As for Monta, he comes back to Dallas on a three-year deal worth approximately $5 million per year.

So the salary heading into the summer of 2015 looks like this.

  • Carmelo – $21.5 million
  • Dirk – $7 million
  • Chandler – $5 million
  • Monta – $5 million
  • Harris – Appx. $2.5 million
  • Carter – Appx. $1.5 million
  • Marion – Appx. $1.5 million
  • Blair – Appx. $1 million
  • Mekel – $947,276

This looks a lot better in 2015. The total salary for nine players would be $45,947,276, and Dallas would have about $20.5 million in cap space to work with.

The key for this free agency period is to get either Love or Aldridge, who will both command max contracts. But just as the case was with Carmelo, neither of those guys would get a max contract. After crunching some numbers, the best deal for Dallas and either player would be a four-year, $80-million deal.

That also means that Dallas has the leverage to divide the money in any which way it wants, and the best way to do that would be $17 million in the first year of the deal.

 

Which means, the salary would look like this.

  • Carmelo – $21.5 million
  • Aldridge/Love – $17 million
  • Dirk – $7 million
  • Chandler – $5 million
  • Monta – $5 million
  • Harris – Appx. $2.5 million
  • Carter – Appx. $1.5 million
  • Marion – Appx. $1.5 million
  • Blair – Appx. $1 million
  • Mekel – $947,276

That gives the Mavs 10 spots, a salary of approximately $62,947,276 and about $3.5 million left in salary to work with. Dallas could extend the qualifying offer to Crowder and keep him on, as well as keep Ledo on the roster, which would cost $947,276. That would leave Dallas with just over $1 million left in salary, and could possibly get one more cheap free agent.

 

First reactions?

  • Post problems solved. Chandler becomes the backup center for either Love or Aldridge.
  • But if Dallas doesn’t believe in Mekel, who plays the backup point guard role? Someone to use that final $1 million on?
  • But do you keep Crowder just in case Marion has lost a step? And get rid of Ledo?

But how about another idea?

 

The new Big Three in Dallas.

Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

While going through the free agent list for the summer of 2015, two names came to mind that would make the Mavs the title favorite.

These two would have to take a pay cut, as well, to make it work. But the thought of adding both of these guys on for $10 million per year would give the Mavs a roster that would rival any other team in the league.

How about this starting five?

With a bench centered around Tyson Chandler, Devin Harris, Shawn Marion, Vince Carter, Jae Crowder and DeJuan Blair? And the Mavs would even have just over $1 million left in cap space to get one more player.

 

That’s the biggest pipe dream ever.

But the possibilities are there, as you can see. This plan of gathering cap space by Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson has led to these next two years of endless possibilities. I won’t even get into 2016, because that would be pressing my luck. It already seems like a long shot to make any of this happen.

And if it doesn’t, I’ve just wasted about 2,000 words of my time. But one can think.

The many years of hoping to reel in the big fish look more promising than ever. Dallas has always looked to the future. It doesn’t hurt to start here.

First thing’s first: Carmelo needs to come to Dallas to make this a reality.

Tags: Carmelo Anthony Dallas Mavericks Free Agency

  • Michael Bradley

    Wow…. Problem solved. We’ll just ask our whole team to take less money. Why hasn’t any other team thought of that?