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Will the new collective bargaining agreement affect the Dallas Mavericks?

Money talks in almost every aspect of society. Money definitely played a role in how the collective bargaining agreement for the National Basketball Association played out; the players of the NBA Players Union wanted the majority of the basketball revenue income split to stay the same at 57%, while the owners wanted the majority of the basketball revenue income to go to them at 52%. Eventually, the lockout ended with the owners settling for the players receiving up to 51.5% of the basketball revenue income in any season. Many new rules and regulations have gone into place, while a few smaller regulations have not been settled yet at the time of this article being written. The Dallas Mavericks used every advantage they could on the last collective bargaining agreement: buying draft picks, sign and trades, the mid-level exception, the bi-annual exception, and paying top dollar to the luxury tax for going over the tax bracket. Now, the Mavericks may have to change their strategies for their financial, and winning, ways.

The new collective bargaining agreement now targets many exceptions that luxury teams such as Dallas and Boston had used extensively in the past, such as the the mid-level exception and the bi-annual exception. The the mid-level exception is now shortened to four years at $5 million. However, taxpaying teams will get a smaller MLE, at three years for $3 million. The bi-annual exception also can not be used by a team that is a taxpayer. As an incentive to be under the cap, teams that are under the cap will get a new exception called the room exception, which will be for $2.5 million for two years. Now, you might be thinking: Bird rights can save my taxpaying team! Wrong. Bird rights are also changed. Now, the maximum contract a Bird player can receive is for 5 years, and only 4 years for extending contracts. However, the pay increases of 7.5% for Bird players remains. The luxury tax itself will become more expensive, but will stay the same $1 for $1 over for the first two years. These moves are meant to make the free agent field more equal, but they affect how the Mavs get free agents to come.

The Mavs have a salary total at just over $60 million, which is over the salary cap. This leaves little room to work with, and 6 players have become free agents that need to be resigned: J.J Barea, Caron Butler, Tyson Chandler, Brian Cardinal, Peja Stojakovic, and DeShawn Stevenson. There is only about $13 million to work with before hitting the luxury tax. With that money, these 6 players may be signed. The Mavs can not afford to target other, higher priced free agents without having to dip into their limited exceptions. The Mavs can pursue one of three strategies: keep spending and pay the fees even at an extensive (and loss-producing) expense, have a quick retooling of the team using the expiring contracts of Jason Kidd and Jason Terry, which would free up a lot of room for the great free agency of 2012, or start lowering salary to comply with the rules, even if it means signing none of our free agents. I would suggest to combine the two last options, with the only high signing would be for Tyson Chandler. There is no other reason to break the bank for any other free agents of our own when Rudy Fernandez, Rodrigue Beaubois, and Dominique Jones, sit waiting to assume the guard spots. However, if they want to take the veteran's minimum, I would gladly pursue them.

There are other ways to lower the cap and go after other free agents, including the amnesty provision of the CBA. However, there is no highly paid contract that is truly worth chucking away on our team. You may make a case for Brendan Haywood to be cut, but Haywood actually produces meaningful work, albeit at an overpaid price. Dallas may use its mini-MLE, but I prefer we do not. Instead, resign Chandler for 1 year if possible. If Chandler wants multiple years, the Mavs should sign him when his and Dirk's contract would expire. Then, in 2012 and 2014, the team can retool quickly, develop the draft picks as well, and keep on contending for the world championship. This CBA has severely limited the Mavericks, but with correct financial planning, we should keep competing until at least the late years of this decade.