Obviously any King James-to-Dallas talk would only be possible if James forced the Cavs' hand and demanded a sign-and-trade to the Mavs. It’s been brought up many times that not engaging in any sign-and-trade discussions is the only real leverage the Cavs have, thus forcing LeBron to pass on about $30 million to go elsewhere. Then again, getting nothing for LeBron and being left with Antawn Jamison, Mo Williams and about $12 or $13 million in cap room to lure free agents to one of the least desirable places to live in the NBA doesn’t exactly give Cleveland the hammer in these negotiations? If LeBron demands an S&T to Dallas, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert will have to play ball and get some assets back in return. There are two main angles here: Cleveland rebuilding while staying competitive; and Cleveland tearing this bad boy down. We’ll tackle both.
The Basics #1: I’ve never been a Jamison fan, but he can still get you 20 a night. And even though he’s overpaid, his contract only has two years left on it. I don’t see him being as big an albatross as others might. In fact, if acquiring LeBron means the Mavs must give up Rodrigue Beaubois, as most have theorized, then I’d suggest that Mo Williams and his likely three remaining years is a bigger issue for Cleveland moving forward than Jamison.
The How #1: If the Mavs were to offer Erick Dampier’s non-guaranteed contract, Beaubois, DeShawn Stevenson (final year of a deal with $4.1 million on it) and a future pick or two for James and the complete waste of money that is Daniel Gibson’s deal (three more years with almost $11 million guaranteed), then I’d think Cleveland would have to roll with that considering holding an empty bag is also an option.
The Why #1: I’d think Cleveland could still be competitive with this deal while they rebuild around Beaubois, JJ Hickson and cap space using Jamison, Williams and Andy Varejao to bridge to the future. If Cleveland demanded Caron Butler in the trade to get more value, then The Mavs would have to counter that Delonte West be included in the deal in place of Gibson since he’s only guaranteed $500,000 for 2010. But if I’m Dallas, I have James’ camp force the issue that he wants to play with Butler. Remember that Roddy B and picks beats nothing in return.
The Basics #2: If The Cavs are completely tearing down, then they’d want to jettison Jamison and Williams. Varejao has five years left, but doesn’t make outrageous dough for what he brings, and his energy will still translate to rebuilding. The Mavs could do either variation of trade idea #1 and then swap out Jason Terry for Williams and the Cavs could save some money. But if Cleveland insisted on a Jamison/LeBron $31 million megabomb, then I’d think the Mavs would have to play it this way.
The How #2: Dampier’s non-guaranteed contract, Butler in the last year of his deal and Matt Carroll’s descending contract (very much in the Boobie Gibson realm) and two future picks for Jamison/LeBron. But NO Roddy B if you have to take on Jamison.
The Why #2: Jamison is a completely useless player for the Mavs at his salary and really hurts the finances of the team. If Dallas has to take him on, then they shouldn’t have to come off of Beaubois, too. Butler will give the Cavs similar production to Jamison at about $18 million less. Honestly, Cleveland would be better taking the first incarnation of Deal 1 and then sending Jamison, Williams, West and Jamario Moon to Philly for Elton Brand, Samuel Dalembert, Jason Kapano and the #2 pick. They take a financial hit this season, though they wouldn’t come close to luxury tax territory and then they’d rebuild around the undeniable backcourt of Roddy B and Evan Turner with over $20 million in cap space next summer. Now that’d be fun to watch.
The Bottom Line: The Mavs can get LeBron if he wants to come here. Who knows if Dallas is even on his radar. But if Cleveland plays it right, they could be competitive quickly. Which is all you can ask when you lose one of the best players in the world in his prime.