A response to yesterday's post about the Mavericks free agency plans in 2013.
The thing is, I always thought keeping their powder dry was a dumb idea. You don't get extra points for winning in four years rather than two and I think they gravely underestimated how hard it would be for them to get flexibility within the time-span of those contracts they turned down (like Chandler's).
Exhibit A: They had to strip down so much, to offer even one max contract, that Deron Williams figured a team with Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez was a better bet going forward.
However, I think they've gotten to a point where they don't really have to keep their powder dry. Because they've finally gotten to a point where financial flexibility won't just exist, it'll be more or less unavoidable. Why?
As of this moment, the Mavericks have zero players under contract for 2014. Zero. Got 3.3 mil QO on Dom Jones, which I can't imagine them paying, and a 1.2 mil team option on Jared Cunningham which, hopefully, they will. So, sign James Harden to a big deal, don't sign James Harden to a big deal -- how are you going to avoid having a lot of cap space in 2014?
Say Dirk wants to keep playing, and God I hope he does. Tim Duncan just signed a 3 year, 10 million dollar a year contract, 3rd year a player option. Sounds like a great model for Dirk. Say OJ Mayo or Darren Collison turns out and you want to give one of them 10 million, one of them 6, both substantial raises. So that's 26 mil for those three guys. Under this year's salary cap numbers, they'd still have over 30 million to spend.
Obviously with cap holds and other tax things it's less than that, but still, you can fit Harden under that cap, even if you sign Andrew Bynum in the off-season (which they won't). And if they don't sign a big fish, they can sign Harden and make incremental moves and not get close to the cap.
The sad news: 2014 would have been the 4th year of Tyson Chandler's 5 year deal (or 4 year deal, if he was willing to take no more than NY offered), so if the Mavericks big fish signing takes place after that time, it definitively won't have been because of the cap space cleared in that decision. In fact, in 2014, the Mavs could have been paying Dirk and Chandler less than 25 million combined.
Some day, I'll get over it. Today's not that day.
Long story short: The Mavericks, in my opinion, vastly overrated their chances of ever replacing Dirk despite the fact that I recognize they made the right decisions if they are going too. But whatever they do in the summer of '13, they're looking pretty good for the summer of '14, if for no other reason than, no matter what happens, they should be paying Dirk 12 million dollars less by then. So open the wallet, I say.
Harden, of course, would be a great add to any NBA team, as you mention, probably better than any Maverick not named Dirk. However, I don't seem him as a max player and he'll probably get offered that by someone. He's a guy who can score 15 with efficiency, but is he more than that?
Don't get me wrong, that's great, but if it were Westbrook and Harden instead of Durant, Westbrook, and Harden, would you be afraid of the Thunder? I mean, probably not right? Would I pay him 12-14? Sure. And I think he won't get that from the Thunder.
However, if we're not talking about the big guys, and I don't see the Mavericks getting any of the big guys, what about Manu himself? The Spurs seem to be into riding that thing into the ground, but Manu's 35 and they may want to rebuild some day.
I admit, none of this is too sexy, but that's why you don't put all your eggs in a Bynum basket.