Monday, May 20, 2013

Nowitzki Salary Cut Pledge Alters Chandler Logic

By Dustin Copening of
2011-12 Salary:
  • Chandler signed for $13.1.
  • Haywood amnesty would clear up $7.6 (amnestied in 2012 offseason).
  • Lamar Odom hit cap for $8.9.
  • Leaves $3.9 remaining w/ Chandler still on team between Haywood and Odom, considering they still sign West.

2012-13 Salary:
  • Chandler signed for $13.6.
  • Jason Terry ($11.2), Jason Kidd ($10.1), and Brian Cardinal ($1.4) off the books create $22.7 in space.
  • Would have left $51 in cap hit on books.
  • Deron Williams signed for $17.2 hit in 2012-13.
  • Would put Mavs at $68.2, near luxury tax threshold of $70.
  • Would have been roster of Dirk, Chandler, Williams, Marion, Carter, Roddy B, DoJo, West (if not released).
  • That’s 7 players on roster and not a lot of cap space, but there are other ways to make it work. Must believe Mavs would have filled out roster with exceptions available to them, but would have been over the cap & nearing repeater danger zone.
  • If Williams doesn’t sign then cap issues not a concern.

2013-14 Salary:
  • W/ Williams Mavs have $58.5 in salary between Dirk, Williams, Chandler, & Carter.
  • W/o Williams they would likely be chasing after CP3 w/ $40 in salary.
  • Marion has an early termination option on the $9.3 due to him.
  • Undeniably over the cap for third straight year, which means they would have to get under in 2014 to avoid repeater.
  • Enter Dirk salary cut. No doubt he would be offering the same with or without Williams/CP3 on board.

2014-15 Salary:
  • Luxury Tax threshold is predicted to be around $75.
  • If Dirk drops to around $10, then $24.6 tied up between Dirk and Chandler.
  • W/ Williams or CP3 the total hit would be roughly $44-45. Leaving $30 to work with to fill out remaining roster.

Tyson Chandler and Dirk Nowitzki have at least one thing in common as the NBA Conference Finals get underway this week. For the second consecutive year since their unlikely run to the 2010-11 title as Mavericks, they will be sitting at home.

This all might have been avoided had Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson not convinced themselves sometime shortly after the new CBA was drafted that the best course of action for the future of the Mavericks organization was to allow Chandler to walk in hopes of landing Dwight Howard and Deron Williams.

Since that decision and a disastrous series of events that started with a first round sweep by the Oklahoma City Thunder a year ago, a vocal contingent of Mavericks fans and media have screamed to the heavens with all their might. Shaking their fists in anger at Cuban and Co’s all-in gamble that needs an ace on the river this summer to keep the franchise from going bust.

There is also an equally boisterous bunch from the fanbase and press box who believe that the Mavericks front office had no other choice but to quiver in fear from the CBA’s league altering luxury repeater tax and sign-and-trade penalties that kick in starting next year (you can read more about it all here). Matching the 4 year, $58 million deal the Knicks gave to Chandler would not only mean that the Mavericks would miss out on Dwight Howard, but you can kiss any hopes of Deron Williams or Chris Paul goodbye as well.

Naturally, both camps have had a lot to say over the last month. The “Shoulda Kept Tyson” gang took the early lead into the clubhouse as the Mavericks missed the postseason for the first time since 2000. Saturday night, the “Read The CBA” club got their say with the Knicks bowing out of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 6 games. That triggered this tweet from ESPN Dallas Columnist Tim MacMahon:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>Would Mavs be a playoff team with Tyson Chandler? Yes. A contender? No. Need a co-star with declining Dirk. Impossible if they kept TC.</p>&mdash; Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) <a href="">May 19, 2013</a></blockquote>
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My return volley began with a tweet about a thought that had been brewing in my head ever since Dirk Nowitzki went on with Ben and Skin at 105.3 The FAN and talked about taking a salary cut once his current deal expires in 2014. That thought being that it undercuts the logic of the “Read The CBA” club’s argument.

An entertaining debate (that you can view by clicking here) ensued that wrapped up with MacMahon playing the sources card and me trying to get back to my original point in 140 characters or less. It also left me inspired to dive deeper into the math at the heart of this highly charged sports tiff. (Side Note: I am always grateful when media members choose to converse with their listeners/viewers like MacMahon did Saturday night. It challenges guys and gals like me to get better at what we do, and it gives us a bit more access to the facts on these issues that we otherwise don’t get.)

Here’s my finest stab at justifying the “Shoulda Kept Tyson” gang’s viewpoint, taking into account many variables known and unknown to Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson during the immediate aftermath of the CBA:

2011-12 : The Mavericks match the offer Chandler receives from New York and he’s under contract through 2014-15. Obviously this takes Dwight Howard out of the equation. Regardless of what you think of Chandler’s defense and locker room impact, he’s not the dynamic offensive player Howard is, and the Mavericks need a long term answer at PG with some scoring punch. Brendan Haywood is amnestied now instead of after the season to clear $7.6 million of cap space. The Lamar Odom trade and his $8.9 million cap hit never happens, easily covering the remaining $5.5 million of Chandler’s $13.1 million salary in year one of his deal. The Mavericks are still able to bring in the additions of Vince Carter, Brandan Wright, and Delante West, as well as find a more affordable replacement for Haywood. Dallas is over the luxury tax threshold by a few million, but this group picks up several more wins than the team minus Tyson did, eventually getting eliminated in the Western Conference Semis.

2012-13 : Dirk ($21), Chandler ($13.6), Marion ($8.6), Carter ($3.1), Roddy B ($2.2), Delonte West ($1.2), DoJo ($1.2), and Brandan Wright ($1) count for a combined $51.9 million against the cap, but the departures of Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, and Brian Cardinal leave roughly $18 million in available space before the luxury tax limit. Would this roster be enough to convince Deron Williams to sign with Dallas? If so, could they afford to do so and still fill out the rest of the roster? Maybe to question one, but yes to question two. Williams is affordable since he counted for $17.2 million in year one of his new deal, especially via a sign-and-trade. Pull that off and you have your young stud, defensive rock at center, and a still hungry Dirk. If Williams still desires to stay in Brooklyn for the Jay-Z show, then the Mavericks load up with the one year mercs and make another return to the playoffs despite Dirk’s knee costing him the first quarter or so of the season.

2013-14 : The Mavs enter the offseason with just Dirk, Williams, Chandler, and Carter under contract for a cap hit of $58.5 million. Without Williams the hit falls to $40 million, but they make a strong run for CP3. Let’s have fun and assume they’re able to sign one of Williams/Paul and leave the cap number at $58.5. That’s a lot of money tied up in 4 players, but with the exceptions and draft picks available to them (also assuming they have players from the previous year’s draft on the roster as well) they are able to field a competitive team but again paying into the luxury tax. The organization is now in danger of falling victim to the aforementioned repeater tax and sign-and-trade penalties. The on-court product thrives though, and the Mavericks find themselves in another Conference Finals battle for the ages with a healthy Oklahoma City team, falling just short of a Finals return with a Game 7 loss on the road.

2014-15 : The Luxury Tax threshold is now around $75 million, and the Mavericks find themselves at a crossroads. It’s clear that they are missing a final piece to the championship puzzle, but there is no way they can afford or trade for that difference maker unless they cut a significant chunk of salary from the existing squad. Oh yeah. We already know how this plays out. Dirk Nowitzki makes good on his promise to Cuban and Donnie to take a salary cut. This allows the Mavericks to not only sneak in under the luxury tax, but also add (enter missing title piece here) to the roster. The Mavericks return to the Finals and claim their second Larry O’Brien Trophy over the Heat. Miami’s run is officially over and they blow up the big three.

Certainly there are more scenarios that factor in for the above plot to unfold, but the bottom line is that it’s possible. It was possible for the Mavs to keep Tyson Chandler and make the math work to still add that other big time star. At least that’s the story I’m sticking with until Mike Fisher or David Lord strikes me down like a Russell Westbrook blown out knee (sorry Thunder fans).

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