2010 NBA Free Agency: LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to the Dallas Mavericks?
Okay, deep breath.
I'm talking to myself just as much as any of you reading. Minds are about to be blown here.
Remember how everyone wanted to talk about those crazy teams that can afford two max free agents? Well, look out world. The Dallas Mavericks are ready to make a splash, and they have the assets to do it.
You want to get nuts? Okay, LET'S GET NUTS!
Exhibit A: Erick Dampier's contract was constructed in such a way so that he could be waived if he didn't meet certain requirements. He didn't meet them, so he can be waived at any time this offseason, meaning the team can just dump him and save about $13 million.
Exhibit B: Caron Butler is in the final year of a contract that will pay him $10.5 million this year. That's a nice chunk of change, and unlike Dampier, Butler is a former All-Star and can actually play.
Exhibit C: Rodrigue Beaubois showed last year that he can make a big impact in small minutes. He can score from a lot of places, and even top-notch defensive teams struggle to guard him, e.g. the Spurs in the 2010 playoffs.
Exhibit D: Eduardo Najera, JJ Barea, and Dominique Jones. Barea is a legit backup PG who is only making about $1.6 million, a very affordable piece.
While unproven, Jones is a young scorer with a huge potential upside that can be developed.
Exhibit E: Draft picks and cash. Thanks to picking up Jones this year, the Mavericks' draft picks in 2011, 2013, 2015, etc., are available (teams cannot trade away first round picks in consecutive years).
They also snagged an extra second-round pick this year when they got rid of Solomon Alabi. The trade of Kris Humphries also gave the Mavs a $2.9 million trade exception. And you know Mark Cuban has cash.
So the Mavs have a variety of assets, but what does it all mean?
Here's what it means:
The Dallas Mavericks have a chance to sign two max free agents.
You see, a maximum deal is 30 percent of the salary cap for players with the experience that James and Wade have.
With the salary cap expected to be set at around $56 million next season, that means the cap number to sign a max free agent is about $16.8 million. Here's where it gets interesting.
Since Dampier's contract can be shipped out for up to 125 percent in returning contracts, he can fetch $16.3 million in return. Add to that a second-rounder or some cash, and there's one max player.
Now take Caron Butler and his $10.5 million. Add to that young players like Beaubois ($1.1 million), Dominique Jones ($1 million), and Eduardo Najera ($3 million, non-guaranteed), and you've got yourself enough for a second max player.
So the Mavericks can pull off two max free agents by the numbers, but what about everything else?
Dirk Nowitzki will hopefully be re-signed (to a four-year max deal, mind you, giving the Mavs three max players), Jason Kidd is locked up, and Brendan Haywood will also hopefully be re-signed (since the Mavs own his Bird rights, they can go over the cap to re-sign him).
This would have to come through sign-and-trades, of course. Since it's a sign-and-trade, both Wade and James would get the extra year and the extra $30 million, which they couldn't if they went somewhere else.
But the only thing worse for the Heat and Cavs would be losing their stars for nothing. Losing a franchise guy is like a bad wound. Should these teams leave their wound untreated?
The Mavericks can offer "first aid" for the wound in the form of financial savings, young talent, or proven veterans. It's better than nothing.
So how's this for a starting five? Kidd, Wade, James, Nowitzki, and Haywood (hold on, I need a cold shower).
Plus, Terry coming off the bench for offense and Marion getting some chances to do some defensive work. Someone like Drew Gooden could be signed to give the Mavs backup depth at center, plus whoever the Mavs can get with the mid-level exception.
Pretty good team right?
Better than James and Wade in Miami with Mario Chalmers and Michael Beasley as the only other players under contract. Rose, James, Noah, and Bosh is a good team, but who's the SG? And outside of James Johnson and Taj Gibson, they have no one else.
The Mavs option gives them a legit starting five and insane depth, plus the sky is the limit for that team.
Once Kidd slows down and retires (he's under contract for two more years) and Dirk fades away (four years on his proposed max), you've still got James and Wade together.
Plus they have Cuban at their backs, who we all know will spend the cash and get creative to put a winning product out there. That's more than you can say for the Bulls owner.
Is it possible? You better believe it. Probable? No.
The biggest problem is Wade and James playing together. Could one of them be the alpha dog over the other? That would be tough. Bosh could be inserted, but I don't like him at center much (and apparently neither does he).
But from a business sense, Dirk, James, and Wade would get their fat deals.
From a basketball sense, you would have possibly four Hall of Famers playing together, with two entering their primes and two just leaving theirs. And to quote Bart Simpsons, "that ain't not bad."
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