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The Math Behind A Tyson Signing For The Mavs

Because Tyson keeps being the big story in Mavs-land and multiple numbers are thrown out there in terms of what he wants and what other teams might be able to offer, we'll guide you through the jungle of numbers and implications that a possible Chandler signing has for the Mavericks. The good news is, the Mavs only have to ask themselves one question in the first place:

Do they want to be a player in next years FA?

  • "YES!"
    Don't resign Chandler at all, because in that case you won't have cap room next season to get involved. I wouldn't care whether Deron Williams (or others) say today, that they'd only join Dallas with both Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson on the team, because it's not possible anyway. So your best (because only chance) to lure any big agents next summer is to let Tyson go and roll with Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahinmi.
    Without Chandler, and given that you fill your roster with no long-term obligations this season, they could amnesty Haywood (say hi to Dwight Howard) or Marion (say hi to Deron Williams / Chris Paul), let Rudy Fernandez walk and would be approx. 21M under the cap, which is enough for a max contract. Ladies & Gentleman, that's your 2012 FA-possibility.
  • "NO!"
    Dirk is in his prime and in that case you still want to give him the best shot at repeating I guess. Chandler is the obvious choice because we all know not to change a winning formula. Click through to find out how a Chandler signing would affect the Mavs future.

In case the Mavs feel they won't get one of the big targets in 2012 or simply don't want it (that's not what we've been hearing though) it comes down to two things:

  1. How much money is Mark Cuban willing to spend
  2. "There are rules put in place to keep a team from dramatically escalating its salary after taking advantage of the non-Luxury Tax perks. If you use the true MLE, the Bi Annual Exception, or execute a sign and trade (after the new rules kick in for the third season), your salary is capped at 4Mil above the Luxury Tax for the entire season."
    (thanks to jthig32 back at for this nice compilation)

There is also a slim chance that the Mavs will resign Chandler to land a big soon-to-be FA, let's say Howard, in a trade, but that's unlikely because other teams have better chips.
Chandler himself set the bar high (demanding a max contract). That won't happen. The Golden State Warriors are amoing the most serious pursuers right now and they could free up approx. 16M of cap room in amnestying Andris Biedrins. If they chose to go all-in on Tyson, they could offer him 4yrs/69M, starting at 16,085,625 in the first year and ending up at 18,414,375 in the last year of the contract, which results in an average salary of 17,250,000. But I think even that is unrealistic. In the end we might be talking about an annual salary of 14,500,000. Marc Stein thinks he can get it from someone and I'll trust him here. Mavericks could match such an offer with a starting salary of 12,868,750, 7.5% raises and 16,131,250 in the last year of that contract. This is how the roster would look:

Player 2011/2012 2012/2013 2013/2014
Nowitzki, Dirk
19,092,873 20,907,128 22,721,381
Terry, Jason 11,437,500 0 0
Kidd, Jason 8,500,000 0 0
Marion, Shawn 7,975,932 8,646,364 9,316,796
Haywood, Brendan 7,624,500 8,349,000 9,073,500
Brewer, Corey 3,059,000 3,243,000 0
Fernandez, Rudy 2,180,443 3,187,807 (*)
Beaubois, Rodrigue 1,236,720 2,227,332 3,271,951 (*)
Jones, Dominique 1,193,280 1,276,560 2,299,084 (**)
Mahinmi, Ian 884,293 0 0
Chandler, Tyson 12,868,750 13,956,250 15,043,750
Barea, Jose 3,391,667 3,666,667 3,941,667
Stojakovic, Peja 1,399,507 0 0
Cardinal, Brian 1,399,507 0 0
Cap 58,044,000 58,044,000 58,044,000
Tax Threshold 70,030,700 70,030,700 70,030,700
Hard fMLE-Cap 74,030,700 74,030,700 74,030,700
Salaries 82,243,972 65,460,108 65,668,129
Roster spots to fill 0 4 6
Under the Cap 0 0 0
Money until Tax Threshold 0 4,570,592 4,362,572
Money until Hard fMLE-Cap
0 8,570,592 8,362,572

(*) Qualifying Offer
(**) Team Option

I've used the salary cap from last season. It could raise a bit in the next seasons, but that wouldn't change the picture dramatically. At least, thanks to the new CBA, it can't be lower then it was in 2010/2011. The table is pretty self-explanatory, but let me outline some things. I've inserted the "Hard fMLE-Cap." As I pointed out above, teams that use the fMLE (full-MLE of ~5M) or bi-annual exception (or a S&T starting with the 2013/2014 season) are limited to a hard cap of 4M+Tax Threshold. Taxpaying teams have that mMLE (mini-MLE of ~3M).So "Money until Tax Threshold" is the money the Mavs would have left until they pay taxes and "Money until Hard fMLE-Cap" is the money they would have left when they decide to add new talent via the fMLE. Otherwise new players can only come via the mMLE or a trade.

  • 2011/2012:
    The Mavs can't use the fMLE, but can choose whether to resign Jose Barea, Caron Butler and DeShawn Stevenson or not. The best bet is to roll with Barea at a fair amount and look that you got Peja Stojakovic and Brian Cardinal back at minimums. That would make your roster three-deep at every position and Cuban would also have to pay less luxury tax (with an estimated payroll of 83M, last season: 88M). Of course the Mavs are free to resign all of their FAs, but they basically replaced Stevenson with Rudy on Draft Day and Butler with Corey Brewer at the Trade Deadline, so both are kind of a luxury on the current roster. As I've said in my last piece, giving JJB three years makes sense, because he comes off the books the same year Dirk does. I've inserted the calculations for 3yrs/11M here. During this season they'd only have the mMLE for picking up an amnestied or waived player.
  • 2012/2013:
    Mavs would have a payroll of 65.4M and four roster spots to fill. Rudy will become a RFA if they Mavs choose to put out that qualifying offer. With resigning Chandler they don't have the room to get any of the big free agents, but as you can see, they even won't get any free agents at all. Based on these calculation, they have approx. 8.5M left until the "Hard fMLE-Cap" and thats not enough to give a quality player a full MLE contract and resign three more players on minimums to just complete your roster. So they might be stuck with trying to resign Terry, Kidd and Mahinmi and bring back some other guys on minimums and again look who they might pickup with the mMLE.
  • 2013/214:
    It basically would stay the same: The Mavs are bound to resign their own players, because they can't handout a MLE-contract. Plus, the harsher luxury tax will kick in that year. Based on the salary it's inevitable that Marc Cuban will have to spend big money three years from now. No matter how the roster will look, whether Terry or Kidd will be back and stuff, they will most definitely exceed the 80M payroll once again and they'll be repeated offenders. So we're talking about a 3.50$-for-$1 luxury tax, which would be around 40M-45M. So far, Marc Cuban has spent the highest tax-bill in 2008/2009 with 23.4M.

So how much is Cuban be willing to spend to keep a championship roster intact? Furthermore, if you look at the roster in the upcoming years, will it even be a championship roster without the ability to add quality players via the fMLE? The Mavs will be highly limited in free agency for years. Can you compete for Terry, Kidd, Brewer, Mahinmi and Rudy with very less salary to offer? Some of them might give you a hometown-discount, but don't bet on it. The worst case is that you have to fill your roster with minimums around Chandler and Dirk. Using the amnesty on Haywood or Marion at some point might help, but won't cure the issue completely. They also could use the expirings of Terry and Kidd this season to add somebody, because they are definitely teams out there who'd be willing to pick up those contracts and go into the 2012 free agency with cap room.

That said, any dollar they save on Tyson would help their latitude in free agency, but I can't see them getting into a range where they can really use a fMLE in any season. So these are your conditions for a Tyson-signing. You will have to spend a huge tax-bill in 2013/2014, are at least limited in free agency (if not totally out of it) and there is no guarentee to bring back a championship-worthy roster in the upcoming years.

Marc Stein just reported that negotiations with the Mavericks have stalled. Like it or not, but now you at least have an idea why.