Dallas Mavericks Serching for Summertime Bargains

Janet KesslerCorrespondent IMay 17, 2009

DENVER - MAY 13:  Josh Howard #5, Jason Kidd #2 and Jason Terry #31 of the Dallas Mavericks pause during action against the Denver Nuggets in Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Pepsi Center on May 13, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

As a girl, one thing I know first hand is shopping:

Let's face it guys, shopping is a competitive sport for women.  We do our scouting through the sales circulars.  We plan our purchase carefully, sizing up our needs, and our budgets.  Then we launch an all out strike, to claim that bargain before the competition.

So you ask:  What that has to with the Dallas Mavericks, or basketball?  This is the time of year, when the Dallas Mavericks brain-trust looks for bargain talent.

The NBA draft is right around the corner.  Yes, the Mavericks do have their first round pick.  Since making it to the second round in the playoffs, the Mavericks are insure of an almost next to last pick.  Don't expect to find any bargains there.  But you never know, the Mavericks have been known to trade-up. 

For the past couple of years, the Mavericks have done their best bargain hunting with the Summer League.

What is Summer League?

It is for developmental, and transition purpose.  All the NBA teams participate.  The teams comprise of current year draft-picks, last seasons rookies, sophomores, and developing players. 

The new draft-picks have a transition time between college and pro-ball.  Players that are owned by the teams, that were overseas, are invited back to play.

Lastly player that have been cut from their teams, can end up with an invitation to play.  The Summer League-rs give these second-chance players, a second chance to sell their skills to a shopping team.

Past Summer league bargains includes: Jose Juan Barea, Brandon Bass, and James Singleton.  Gerald Green was also a Summer League find.   Let's just say he's still in development.

We need to budget our wallets carefully:

With a down economy, the NBA has lowered the salary cap.  Every team will be capped out at $57.3 million, for the '09-'10 season.  That is a shrinkage of $1.38 million, from the previous season.  Rumor has it, the cap will fall to $55 million for '10-'11 season.

An added hit to all the teams, is the Luxury tax penalty.  That will drop from $71.15 million for previous season, to 70 million for the coming season.  Making it easier for all teams to go over cap.

Only profitable teams can afford to pay the Luxury tax penalty, for being over salary cap.  This will force teams that are in the "Red" to possibly look to dump salary.  Sounds like a bargain hunters dream.  Right?

Before we can go shopping, we need to inventory what we have:

Let's start with our basic essentials, with our starting five: 

Jason Kidd is without a contract.  His is one essential that goes well with everything.  Just look at his team-mates stats for the '08-'09 season, if you don't believe me.  Kidd made every player on the Mavericks roster better.

Kidd is unrestricted; meaning for him to stay in Dallas, is largely up to how bad he wants to stay.  How bad Dallas wants him to stay, depends on how much owner Mark Cuban is willing to pay. 

If the Mavericks do not re-sign Kidd, it marks the Harris/Kidd trade as a dud.  Leaving a bigger question, who will take his place?

Jason Terry doesn't start, but he gets starter minutes at the two-guard.  Just for that reason, we'll call him a starter. 

Anchoring the bench, earned Terry the NBA's Six-man of the year award.  A career best effort for the '08-'09 season.  

Just one loan flaw on Terry, and it's crippling.  This streaky shooter has developed a bad habit of disappearing, point-wise, in the post-season.  This might be the time to exchange this essential, for a more reliable model.

Terry's is one of the few contracts the Mavericks do not have to worry about.  In the midst of a six-year deal, the Mavericks have Terry lock-up through 2012. 

For the time being, this essential is flying nowhere.

Josh Howard is headed for long over-due surgery, to repair his left ankle.  Surgery to his left wrist , is also a possibility. 

Howard was never healthy this season.  When he was able to play, he showed us signs of being at his All-Star form. 

With much re-hab to complete, it's doubtful Howard will be ready for the seasons start.   This essential will be on the shelf for while.  The Mavericks will have to rely on their accessories again, to fill the void. 

At least the Mavericks do not have to think about Howard's contract this summer.  He is locked up trough 2011.

Dirk Nowitzki:  This classic piece of German Engineering, is never out of style.  Completing his eleventh season, Dirk posted numbers that rival his MVP season.

Dirk's salary amounted to $18 million this past season, and worth every penny.  His $60 million contract, is through 2011.  Extension talks can start this summer. 

Here is the scary part; Dirk stated back in October, that he had no intention of signing an extension this summer.  Dirk's contract also has an early termination clause.  Meaning, if he wants to leave Dallas, there is not much to stop him.

Enduring the embarrassment of having his personal life all over the national media, might give Dirk enough reason to pack-up and get out of Dallas.  His relationship with owner Mark Cuban, and re-signing Kidd, might be reasons alone, for Dirk staying. 

Eric Dampier is the outdated model, the Mavericks have been stuck using.  He is getting up there in age, and moves really slow.  Let's face it, we need an upgrade.  Preferably a  young, sleek model that can rock the rim, an average 15 points.

Witha shortage of available big men, the Mavericks have been forced to make due with Dampier.  Too many times stat wise, he has become more of a liability, than an essential.

Dampier's fat contract, has the Mavericks weighted down through 2011.  This behemoth is worth $73 million.  Last years salary alone, took the Mavericks for $11.5 million. 

I am told, the Mavericks can rid themselves of Damp, who has the third biggest salary on the team roster.  The contract does not guarantee the 2010-2011 season.  Unloading this, not expiring soon enough contract, is in the best interest of the teams budget health.

Don't expect the Mavericks to just drop Dampier, without a replacement.  To their thinking, he is better than no big man at all. 


Now let's look at our accessories, with our bench:

Let's see who we need to keep and who we need to toss out:

Jose Juan Bareais the guy everyone said, doesn't fit in the NBA.  Was never drafted, Barea came to Dallas as an unsigned free-agent.  The Mavericks tried out this little guy, and decided he was a perfect fit.

Everyone on the Mavericks calls him Rudy, for good reasons.  The obvious is his size, and he sort of resembles the actor, that played Rudy in the movie.  Mostly because the story of how Barea made the Mavericks, is an almost parallel to the story of Rudy. 
Ever since the Mavericks gave this pint-sized Puerto Rican a chance, he has rewarded the team, with his wholehearted effort.  No one can question, that he gives 100% of himself in every game. 
As backup point-guard, Barea has bloomed under the tutelage of Jason Kidd.  This past season, could be called a breakout season for Barea.  His $5 million contract, will keep Berea in Dallas through 2011.
With re-signing of Kidd a big question, could Barea be the starter of next season?  I would like to see Barea, have at least one more full season under Kidd.  The very idea of him being the starting point-guard...  We'll just say the mavericks need to do some shopping.

Brandon Bass may prove to be the biggest challenge of the Maverick brain-trust.  Bass is an unrestricted free agent, and wants more minutes.  Keeping him happy in Dallas may be tricky, on a bench were minutes are stretched thin.

This accessory was One of the best Summer league finds.  He is worth the fight to keep him here. 

A contract with a promise to start, could lure this valuable center/forward away.  The Mavericks could use their mid-cap allowance, if they can get Bass to stay.  It would be a nice take, worth $5.5 million.

Jerry Stackhouse is that old favorite outfit, that you just can't bear to part with.  Even though it's worn-out, you wouldn't think of putting it on the donation pile. 

Stackhouse poor old body, kept him out the entire season.  The likelihood of him being ready, at the start of this season, is not good.

Last season the Mavericks offered Stackhouse a position, as a player coach.  That could still be an option for the Mavericks, to move Stackhouse's salary from the team roster.

Stackhouse's salary will be worth $7 million for the coming season.  His contract contains a  buyout clause, and if Mavericks act fast, they can save $5 million of cap.  But they better hurry, the clause's coupon expires August 1.

Antoine Wright was the added accessory to the Harris/Kidd trade.  Has since developed into a promising defender, by covering other teams two-guards.  He is also developing a swagger, that reminds me a lot of Jerry Stackhouse.

If only he could just make his shots like Stack...Keeping that in mind, and he is only a 25 year-old, well then we could have one bad-ass on this team.
Fought for and won the starting two-guard spot, mostly to keep Terry coming off the bench.  He's cheap enough to keep around one more season.  His contract is in it's last year, and has only $1.8 million remaining.
Devean George was an other accessory sidelined be injuries.  Having had surgery to repair his injured knee, It's unclear if or when George will return to the lineup.
He was never really a favorite accessory, to me.  He was decent on defense, I'll give him credit.  Forgive me for sounding like a girl here, but aren't two-guards suppose to be hot shooters?
His last years salary was only $1.6 million, and of course everbody knows he has Bird-Rights.
Unrestricted for the coming season, I say give him the bird and send him out of here.  The Mavericks can do better.  We need an upgrade.  

James Singleton has European styling, but made in the USA.  Returning from over-seas, this accessory was last years Summer League find.

This Ever-ready player, was an Energizer off the bench.  Though minutes were limited, The Mav-Man look a like, was another victim of a too deep bench.

His one year hitch with the Mavericks, was set at league minimum.  Unrestricted this summer,  this cheap young rim-rocker, might be worth keeping around.

Shawne Williams somehow got lost, and buried in the back of the closet.  Last sighting of this unmemorable accessory was two minutes on January 4, against Memphis.  Even his injured foot, went unnoticed.

Williams restricted contract, worth $6.8 million, is in its final season.  Barely more than league minimum, this accessory might be worth a second look.

Sending him out with the rest of the Summer League-rs, might give the Mavericks a chance to really see what Williams has to offer.

Matt Carroll just doesn't fit here.  He is like an outfit that looked good in the store, but once you get home you realize it doesn't work.  But you're stuck 'cause you lost the receipt.

We traded Diop's bad contract for Carroll's.  To make this worst, Carroll has an over-sized price tag of $5 million a year, that runs through 2012.  Trading this guy is a must for the teams budget health.

Ryan Hollins was a toss-in to make the numbers work on a trade, guy.  Sort of like when you get a bunch of free samples, that turn out to be the best part of the purchase.

What a rim-rocking spark-plug, he has turned out to be.

Hollinsexpired contract is restricted, it was worth $1.1 million over two years.  Hmm, an athletic, Skinny, cheap, young seven-footer, should we sign him or not?  Yeah, he's a keeper.  He is in need of a good weight building program, for this summer.

Gerald Green is that outfit that you know is going to look so good, once you get it on.  The problem is you can't quite get in to it.  You take it out of the closet once in a while to check to see if it fits yet.  Your left with hoping, if only...

You see Gerald "Cupcake" Green possesses tremendous natural talent.  The big problem is his NBA I.Q. is barely greater than an amoeba, making him one big defensive liability.  If Green's game knowledge ever catchesup with his talent, he will be one dangerous player.

This former Slam-dunk champion is an unrestricted free agent, that was bagain priced at league mininum.  He is really too young to let get away, without a second chance.

He needs a mentor to teach him NBA 101, possibly Stackhouse or Darrell Armstrong.  Then send Green back out with the Summer League-rs.  This young man needs a chance, to make Dallas his home.


Let's go shopping! 

Every girl wants a big man.  A suitable one should be high on the Mavericks shopping list.  Right after they figure out, what to do 'bout Kidd.

Finding suitable added accessories, to complement the big German guy, should be next.

With all the bargain possibilities, we have to trust the Mavericks will be better and healthier next season. 


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