Warning: Here comes a whole bunch of number crunching, salary-cap gymnastics and collective bargaining agreement discussion that will bore the heck out of you unless you’re a big-time, Mavs-loving basketball geek.
ESPNDallas.com and other media outlets reported that the Dallas Mavericks needed to create another $2.73 million in cap space to be positioned to sign Dwight Howard to a max contract after all the money-minded wheeling and dealing on draft night. That should have read $2.73 million*.
The asterisk is about three assets that the Mavs can part with at any time without paying a guaranteed dime: Brandan Wright’s Early Bird rights and the nonguaranteed deals for center Bernard James and guard Josh Akognon.
Here are the guaranteed contracts on the Mavs’ books as free agency is about to begin:
Dirk Nowitzki -- $22,721,381
Shawn Marion -- $9,316,796
Vince Carter -- $3,180,000
Jae Crowder -- $788,872
Shane Larkin -- $1,280,800
The CBA requires teams to have $490,180 cap holds to fill out the roster up to 12 spots. With those five players and seven holds, the Mavs’ total commitments are $40,719,109.
The salary cap is expected to be $58.5 million. That would give Dallas $17,780,891 of cap space. A max contract for Howard would start with a salary of $20,513,178, meaning the Mavs would need to trim another $2,732,287.
The nonguaranteed contracts for James and Akognon are both for salaries of $788,872 -- or $298,872 apiece over a roster cap hold.
The cap hold to keep Wright’s Early Bird rights, which would allow the Mavs to exceed the cap to sign him to a multiyear contract up to the 104.5 percent of the average NBA salary from last season, is $884,293. That’s $394,113 more than a roster cap hold if the Mavs renounce those rights. (The Mavs are interested in keeping Wright, but the four-year, $16 million contract Ian Mahinmi signed with the Indiana Pacers last summer could be their cutoff point.)
Add in the two nonguaranteed deals and Wright’s cap hold, and the Mavs would actually need to trim $3,723,784 to give Howard a max deal. However, the Mavs don’t need to make decisions on any of those assets until Howard makes his decision, although Wright's cap hold could be a nonfactor if he accepts an offer from another team during that time.
Whether the Mavs need to create $2.73 million or $3.72 million of cap space, the most likely resolution remains trading Marion for no immediate return or significantly lesser salary.