If the Dallas Mavericks sign Bernard James soon, as some expect, they will have a full roster. We don’t know the full details yet of Delonte West’s deal, but given the Mavericks’ use of their remaining 4 million of cap space to sign OJ Mayo, it’s almost certain that Delonte West got the so-called "room" exception, the salary cap exception for those teams who spent some time below cap, which is 2.5 million dollars, and he probably got all of it.
That means the Mavericks can sign Bernard James, at a salary and commitment pre-arranged by his draft slot, but no one else. They will be at cap, not over it, but will have signed all the players whose Bird Rights they held (therefore able to go over cap to sign), and used all their exceptions. It’s possible, on this point, that there’s a trade exception floating around that I don’t know about, but given that neither Kidd nor Terry turned out to be a sign and trade, it isn’t likely.
As for trades:
A lot of people around here have been throwing up some great trade machine stuff, which we love, encourage, and pass on to Donnie Nelson personally, but for the record it is my hunch that we will not see a trade until at least September, if the Mavericks do one this year.
This is because a free agent who signs with your team cannot be traded until three months after they are signed, which in our case is going to be something like November. Players who came in trades can’t be traded for two months, which is going to be September. I have heard Sept. 15th as the date when Kaman can be traded, but as near as I can tell, the CBA says three months for FA signings, so I'll follow up on that but as of right now that's my story.
The Mavericks can, and I’ve seen some good ones, trade anyone that they currently have under cap. But the Mavericks, as we know, always play this game the smart way and unless they believe that they aren’t going to make the playoffs with this team (which I doubt), or unless Dwight Howard’s price comes way, way down, the front office is undoubtedly aware that its plethora of one-year soldiers means that it will have a plethora of half-way done contracts come the trade deadline.
There may be things worth getting for Marion and the kids, and a few draft picks, in other words, but to maximize what that sort of thing can get you (and I don’t really see them trading Marion, he does too much), wouldn’t it be nice, they’re probably thinking, if they can also get back whatever Chris Kaman’s 8 million dollar expiring might be worth in addition. For example.
Anyway, I do have one remaining cap mystery that I’d like any of you super smarties out there. We were told all year that this year’s salary cap would be determined based on pro-rating, that is, since we had a 66 game season instead of an 82 game season, the NBA would simply extrapolate the Basketball Related Income over 6 games TO 82 games.
This was widely supposed to be a pretty good thing for teams that want to spend money, inasmuch as most people don’t start paying attention to basketball until Christmas anyway. So, a lot of people in the know figured, including the incomparable David Lord, that basketball related income would be NEARLY equivalent over 66 as it was to 82, which would mean that extrapolating it would bump the cap number appreciably higher.
However, not only is the cap not higher, it is EXACTLY THE SAME. It was $58.044 mil last year (and the year before, since last year’s was based on a new CBA provision that froze cap levels for one year in the hurry to get things started), and it is $58.044 mil now. Since this would require a 100% uniform pattern of money spending throughout the year, this seems literally impossible, unless something we were told was wrong, or unless there is a huge, underground conspiracy which, as always, is the likeliest explanation.
If anyone has a third explanation, however, I should be glad to hear it.