The Dallas Mavericks acquired veteran center Christian Wood in a trade with the Houston Rockets this offseason, making it "far less likely" the team will use its $10.9 million trade exception before the June 27 deadline, a source told NBA reporter Marc Stein.
Per that report: "Enticing as it surely is for them to think about absorbing a quality wing player into the exception at a negligible outgoing cost, Dallas will be a luxury-tax team next season for the first time since the team's championship season in 2010-11, making any incoming salary more costly."
The Mavericks gave up the No. 26 overall pick in Thursday's NBA draft alongside veterans Boban Marjanovic, Trey Burke, Marquese Chriss and Sterling Brown for Wood, addressing the center position as the team continues to build around superstar Luka Doncic.
Using the trade exception to bring in a player with a salary up to $10.8 million without needing to send the equivalent salary back in a trade would make sense from a pure roster-building perspective.
But as Stein noted, the Mavericks are already looking at a cap sheet that will sit around $154 million once the Wood trade is official, and that's before potentially re-signing veteran point guard Jalen Brunson to a deal that likely will exceed $20 million per year. The soft cap for the 2022-23 season will be $122 million.
In other words, acquiring a player with that trade exception, while already in the salary tax, would represent a pretty big hit financially for Dallas.
What the Mavericks do have, however, is a slew of contracts in the $10-20 million range, which will give them flexibility in potential trades for another star player. Those contracts include:
- Spencer Dinwiddie: $20.1 million
- Tim Hardaway Jr.: $19.6 million
- Davis Bertans: $16 million
- Dorian Finney-Smith: $12.4 million
- Dwight Powell: $11 million
- Reggie Bullock: $10 million
- Maxi Kleber: $9 million (non-guaranteed)
It seems unlikely that the team would want to part with Dinwiddie Or Finney-Smith, two crucial contributors to the team's Western Conference Finals run this past season. Hardaway Jr. has also played well for the team when healthy, though a foot fracture cut his 2021-22 season short.
But it takes quality to land quality, and if the Mavericks want to improve around Doncic, they'll have to give up a few attractive pieces. Just don't expect them to use their trade exception in that pursuit.