The news of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George heading to the Los Angeles Clippers broke well after midnight early Saturday definitely had an effect on the Mavericks. With Leonard passing on joining LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the Lakers, Los Angeles now had the cap space freed to sign long-time Mavs target Danny Green to a two-year/$30 million deal.
Now Dallas sits at the free agency poker table with plenty of chips remaining, but not much of a pot worth competing for and not much time remaining before their chips are taken away. With a rumored $22.9 million in cap space remaining after the additions of Seth Curry and Boban Marjanovic, the remaining space can still be used to acquire new players or the resigned contracts of Kristaps Porzingis, Maxi Kleber and Dorian Finney-Smith will occupy the space. However, Dallas has until July 9th to utilize this cap space.
Who are some targets the Mavericks could look to use the remaining cap space on? The remaining players on the free agent market simply are not worth the money at this point. Guys like Delon Wright, who Dallas has been linked to over the past several days, will only take up about a third of the remaining space, more or less. The more likely avenue at this point for Dallas is working with a team via trade to absorb a large, unwanted salary off their books. What are some of the possibilities?
The soon-to-be 31-year-old was a part of the package the Clippers sent to the Thunder for George, but was hardly the piece Oklahoma City coveted.
The Clippers are sending the Thunder four unprotected first-round picks, one protected first-round pick and two pick swaps, league sources tell ESPN. Those picks go to OKC with Gallinari and SGA.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 6, 2019
The number of draft picks and the 20-year-old Shai Gilgeous-Alexander seem to be what the Thunder really were after as the winds seem to be blowing in a rebuilding direction in Oklahoma City with rumors of Russell Westbrook possibly being on the block are even circulating on Saturday morning.
The Paul George trade could not have happened without Gallinari’s $22.6 million salary for next season coming and balancing out the salaries going in and out for both the Clippers and Thunder. Wouldn’t you know it? Dallas has about $22.9 million remaining in cap space. Just enough to absorb Gallinari’s contract for a few of the newly-acquired second round draft picks the Mavericks got when they traded down from the 37th pick in last month’s draft.
Remaining cap space/exceptions:
ATL – $14M
BOS – $0
BKN – $0
CHA – $9.2M MLE
CHI – $4.7M Room
CLE – $5.7M MLE
DAL – $22.9M
DEN – $9.2M MLE
DET – $1.9M MLE
GSW – $0
HOU – $5.7M MLE
IND – $2M + $4.7M Room
LAC – $4.7M Room
LAL – $1.2M -$9M
MEM – $9.2M MLE
$0 = $0 or <$1M
— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) July 6, 2019
It might be totally unlikely that Oklahoma City is just willing to dump Gallinari for nothing, but with them still being $15 or so million over the luxury tax (with a $43 million penalty coming if they don’t get under it), all options seem on the table for the franchise in flux. According to plugged-in Thunder reporter for ESPN Royce Young, OKC is still weighing whether it wants to just see what it might have in a trio of Westbrook, Steven Adams and Gallinari, or it might just completely hit the reset button and be willing to trade the face of their franchise in Westbrook.
While a trade for the “Italian Stallion” into the Mavs remaining cap space might not materialize over the next day or two, with his size and three-point shooting prowess (fifth in the NBA last season at 43%), he might be a target for Dallas on a rental at the deadline if they’re competing for a playoff spot and the volatile Thunder situation is going about as well as the time Kevin Malone tried to bring his homemade chilli to the office.
Another option from the rumbling Thunder situation, Adams has been one of the better big men in the NBA for the last several seasons. With his seven-foot, 265 pound frame, he’s an elite screen setter who would definitely help Luka Doncic find some space on the perimeter to drive to the paint and score or find open teammates beyond the arc. Adams doesn’t put up eye-popping rebound numbers with 9.5 per game and a 14.7 total rebounding percentage last season, but he would definitely help on the boards with the Mavericks’ array of major big men in Kristaps Porzingis, Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber all being average at-best in the rebounding department.
That contract, though? Yikes.
Adams is only halfway through a mega extension the Thunder signed him to back in 2016. The four-year, $100 million deal still has $53.4 remaining on it over the next two seasons. With a 2019-2020 salary of $25.8 million for Adams, a deal would have to include other parts and I’m not really even sure the Mavericks have the assets available to trade to make it worthwhile for them. Sure it’s a possibility a deal could happen, but SI’s Chris Mannix said on the most recent Bill Simmons Podcast that teams have deemed Adams’ contract “untradeable.”
The only other Slovenian in the NBA was almost a teammate with Luka Doncic yet again last Sunday night. Or was he? The whole Miami/Dallas trade saga was hard to figure out, but Dragic isn’t in Dallas and Kelly Olynyk is still in Miami. The Heat figured out a way to sign Jimmy Butler without needing to trade Dragic, but the table definitely seems to be set for the 33-year-old to be out of Miami sooner rather than later. Dragic opted into the final year of his contract for $19.2 million back in June, much to the ire of Pat Riley and the Heat.
After an injury-plagued 2018-2019 season where he only appeared in 36 games, the value for Dragic has to be at an all-time low. Similar to Gallinari, the Mavs could simply absorb his salary if Miami is looking to dump him. However, perhaps Miami might value him slightly more than they did a month ago now that their playoff chances have increased by adding a superstar in Jimmy Butler in free agency.
The fit for Dragic in Dallas is even harder to see than it is for Adams. At 6-3, Dallas doesn’t exactly need another guard of that size in its rotation to go along with newly-signed Seth Curry, Jalen Brunson and eventually J.J. Barea. Dragic is regarded as an adequate defender for his size, but his age and health have to be a concern. While he was an All-Star as recently as 2018, it’s tough to be too excited about an acquisition of Dragic in anything other than a salary dump move where the Mavs merely sacrifice second round picks.
While there are certainly options beyond these three, these have been the options buzzing the most on Mavs Twitter the most over the past 24 hours. Are any of these guys dump options like I’m outlining? Perhaps not. Both the Thunder and the Heat are paying a lot of money for so-so rosters with not a lot of upside to grow into.
While the Mavericks have had a disappointing summer so far, they still have plenty of growing to do with a foundation of 20-year-old Luka Doncic and soon-to-be 24-year-old Kristaps Porzingis and there is plenty of reason for optimism. Adding another player of any of these guys’ quality would be an excellent way to speed up their timeline to contention. For now, continue to freak out over a wasted summer, Mavs fans.
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