Heading into the 2013 NBA draft, the Dallas Mavericks were reported to be one of the teams to keep an eye on. With free agency right around the corner, the Mavs were expected to draft a European player at pick No. 13 or attempt to move back in the round.
Drafting a player the franchise could stash in Europe for a season would have benefited the Mavs in their attempt to free up cap space to make a run at Dwight Howard.
According to NBA expert Larry Coon, Dallas could have held onto a promising prospect while removing his contract from their books, assuming the team and the player came to an agreement to stay overseas for the next season.
The "scale" amount for the team's unsigned first round draft pick(s) when the player signs with a non-NBA team. The scale amount is excluded from the team salary on the date he signs a non-NBA contract or the first day of the regular season, whichever is later. The scale amount goes back onto the team salary on the following July 1 or when his non-NBA contract ends, whichever is earlier. In other words, these cap holds are removed for players playing elsewhere during the regular season only. Scale amounts are also excluded from team salary when the team and player both agree in writing that they will not sign a contract that season.
Trading Pick No. 13 to the Boston Celtics
When the clock began to countdown at No. 13, the Dallas Mavericks decided not to select a player to stash in Europe and instead traded the pick to the Boston Celtics.
The Celtics drafted Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk. In exchange, Dallas received the 16th pick and two future second-round picks. Dallas received fair value to move down three spots and allowed the team to lower the cap hold on their draft pick, assuming they selected a player at No. 16.
Trading Pick No. 16 for Shane Larkin
The Mavericks decided to move back again, this time negotiating with the Atlanta Hawks. However, there were more than just draft considerations changing hands this time.
Dallas was keeping an eye on their cap space, which is partially why this trade was made with Atlanta. The Mavs traded the 16th and 44th picks along with Jared Cunningham to the Hawks for pick 18 and cash considerations.
Management had their eyes on Shane Larkin, selecting the University of Miami point guard. Larkin tested out as one of the best athletes at the NBA Draft Combine, and that surely jumped out to the Dallas front office. Dallas is also needing help at point guard, considering Darren Collison and Mike James are both free agents, making Larkin a value and need selection.
Furthermore, dealing Cunningham, a promising athletic guard himself, allows the Mavs to maintain nearly the exact same amount of cap space this summer. Cunningham was due to make $1.20 million this season, while Larkin is projected to earn $1.28 million.
Trading for Ricky Ledo
After trading away their 44th pick in the deal with Atlanta, the Mavs struck a deal for the 43rd pick from the Philadelphia 76ers, selecting Ricky Ledo. Dallas sent the Brooklyn Nets’ 2014 second-round pick in return, which they acquired from Boston earlier in the draft.
Ledo was one of the most intriguing players in the draft, having been forced to sit out his entire freshman season at Providence as a partial academic qualifier.
Dallas views Ledo as a multi-dimensional athletic forward.
"He’s 20, but he’s got a big upside," president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said after the league office approved the complicated trade for Ledo's rights. "He’s had a little bit of a rough background, but he’s an extremely talented player and a good kid. He’s a good kid that deserves an opportunity."
Management did a great job identifying a player with a ton of potential who could contribute immediately. Additionally, Dallas has control over the contract negotiations because second-round picks are not bound to a slotted salary scale like first-round picks.
Overall, the Dallas Mavericks had a successful draft night. They were unable to trade Shawn Marion to clear up more cap space for a run at Dwight Howard, but that can be discussed during the NBA’s moratorium period from July 1 to July 10. Teams are able to negotiate with free agents but are unable to officially sign them until July 10.
Selecting Shane Larkin and Ricky Ledo allows Dallas to add two extremely athletic and versatile players who can contribute next season. With sights clearly set on free agency, Dallas had an active and successful draft night.