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Maverick Finances 101: Can Dallas afford Deron Williams and Dwight Howard?

With less than one month before the NBA Trade deadline for this shortened season, teams will make cost-cutting moves, financial gambles, and desperate "save-the-team" trades. The Dallas Mavericks, on the other had, made their deals rather early, with the sign and trade of Tyson Chandler to New York to again a Traded Player Exemption (TPE), which was then used to pry Lamar Odom away from the Lakers. Now, Donnie Nelson set his sights onto the 2012 NBA Free Agency. Many sports analysts claim that the 2012 NBA Free Agent signing would be akin to the 2012 NBA Free Agent bonanza, and people like Marc Stein of chimed in that that Dallas Mavericks are in the lead to obtain Deron Williams, Dwight Howard, or even both. With the non expiring salary of Dirk & Co., is it even possible for the Dallas Mavericks to even get one of these stars? See the number crunching after the jump.

At the end of this season, Dallas will have $54.35 million in salary due, courtesy of for the information. Alas, the NBA salary cap will be at or below that number. It may be a tad bit higher, but due to the loss of revenue via the lockout, it is next to impossible that the salary cap rises. However, Dallas can make a few cuts to save money: Brandan Wright and Sean Williams can be waived with no penalty on the 2012 salary, freeing up about $2 million. Vince Carter can be waived, but he has $2 million guaranteed for the last two years he is signed. Waiving Vince will only free up $1 million, and would leave $2 million stuck as useless space in the Maverick salary cap. Lamar Odom has a partially guaranteed contract for next year; if Lamar Odom is waived, the Mavs would only have to pay $2.4 million instead of the $8.2 million Odom is currently due.

Even with all the previously mentioned salary shed, the Mavericks total salary for 2012 is at $45.57 million, not close to sign even Deron Williams or Dwight Howard by himself. Deron will be owed 17,779,458 next year and Dwight would be owed a higher amount at 19,536,360. For the Mavs to sign both, a lot of salary has to be dissolved. Vince Carter and Lamar Odom have to be traded away so their partially guaranteed salary does not stay on the books next year. By trading away Vince and Lamar instead of waiving them, the Mavericks gain an additional $4.4 million in cap space. Brendan Haywood would be an amnesty candidate, and his $8.39 million salary would not be seen as taking cap room.(If no one bids on Brendan, his salary would still be paid by the Mavs organization). Shawn Marion, who has been playing some of his best games since he played in Phoenix, would have to be traded to a team who has enough cap room or a trade exception so Dallas would receive no salary in return. With all of these drastic cuts, the total salary that Dallas would be paying (on the books) is close to $24 million, the players being Dirk Nowitzki, Rodrigue Beaubois, and Dominique Jones.

All in all, almost purging the roster still is not enough to sign both Deron Williams and Dwight Howard to max level deals. The Mavs will be able to gain both if they are willing to take less than the maximum allowed, similar to what Chris Bosh and Lebron James did to sign with the Miami Heat in 2010. Just like with the 2010 Heat though, the rest of the roster would be filled up with minimum payed players. If the gears fall into motion, the 2012 Mavericks roster would look something like:

PG: Deron Williams/Rodrigue Beaubois

SG:Dominique Jones/ Free Agent (Possibly Jason Terry for the Room exception)

SF: Free Agent/ Free Agent (Possibles include Tracy McGrady to start)

PF: Dirk Nowitzki/Free Agent (Possibles include Brandan Wright returning for the minimum)

C: Dwight Howard/ Free Agent (Possibles include Sean Williams returning for the minimum)

More than likely, only a few gears would turn on, and the Mavericks roster will only have enough room for either Deron Williams or Dwight Howard to come. Which brings up the critical question which must haunt Donnie Nelson at this moment: Is Dwight Howard or Deron Williams more important for the team? As fans, we will find out the answer in July 2012.