The Mavericks are facing a difficult decision regarding the future of Tyson Chandler. While I would love to "bring the gang back together" and make a run at back to back titles, under the new CBA, it's extremely difficult for that to happen. And so the Mavericks are at a crossroads, re-sign Tyson Chandler at a price that will limit them financially in the future or maintain flexibility and let Tyson walk. But before we get to that question, here's a look at how the luxury tax affects the Mavericks under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
1. The salary cap for the upcoming season is set at $58 million and the luxury tax line is $70 million.
2. There are two different mid level exceptions, one for tax payers (Mavericks) and one for non-tax payers. A team is allowed to use the full MLE (starting at $5 million for up to 4 years) if it is below the luxury tax line or if it does not exceed the luxury tax line by $4million. So in effect, $74 million is the new "hard cap" in the NBA. If a team exceeds the $74 million threshold it can offer a "mini mid level exception" that begins at $3 million for a maximum of three years. Theoretically, diluting the quality of player available to tax paying teams.
3. The bi-annual exception is included in the CBA however it is limited to non-tax paying teams. The bi-annual can be offered for two years starting at $1.9 million.
4. Sign and trades survive during the first two years of the deal but again, a team would have to be below the $74 million threshold in order to execute a sign and trade.
5. And you can amnesty one player that is currently under contract without having his contract count against your salary cap or luxury tax.
Bird rights remain in this deal meaning that the Mavericks can make a competitive offer for Tyson even if it takes them above the luxury tax. But here's where the CBA comes in to play. The punishment for going over the $74 million mark?
They would have to pay $1.50 for $1 over the line if they only go 0-5 million over $1.75 for every $1 if they are 5-10 million over, $2.50 for every $1 if they're 10-15 million over and $3.25 for every $1 if they're 15-20 million over.
Those are the sort of ramifications the Mavericks are looking at and why signing Chandler to a long term, big money deal could do more harm than good in the long run. The Mavericks currently have around $65 million under contract for next season. Let's say they sign Tyson for 5 years and $60 million. That's 12 million a year and that puts them at the $77 million mark which is $3 million above the "hard cap" of 74. That would mean eliminate the Mavericks ability to use the full MLE and they would have to settle for the mini mid level if they intend on making any changes to this roster through free agency. And that's not even considering what the additional signings of JJ Barea or Caron Butler or Deshawn Stevenson would do to the cap.
While it would nice to get a hometown discount from Tyson for a deal around the $9-10 million mark, it's not going to happen. Chandler is coming off a sensational season and is looking for a payday after being credited with transforming the defensive identity of the Mavericks and removing the "soft" label.
However, let's not forget that Chandler is a 29 year old center with a long injury history and no real offensive game. Sure, the alley-oops are nice but Kidd is likely entering his final season in the NBA and at this point I have no confidence in JJ Barea or Rodrigue Beaubois' ability to effectively run the point guard position. You would be paying $12 million a year (on the low end) for a defensive player with a lengthy injury history. Don't get me wrong, all things being equal, I'd bite the bullet and pay the man. His defense is that good but just realize that'd you'd be paying Chandler as your second best player. Can you win with Chandler as your second best player? Some would say that you just won a title with Tyson as your second best player and I would agree. But this is an old roster getting older and it was already going to be a tough task to repeat this year with Chandler. Is it worth compromising the rest of Dirk's window for one more run in a strike shortened season?
It's a tough decision to make and at this point it looks like the price of Chandler is quickly rising to a territory I would not be comfortable with..