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Start of NBA Free Agency: Where the Mavericks Stand

Free Agency has officially started. Here's a quick summary of the Maverick's cap situation and interests headed into the madness.

Ronald Martinez

Free Agency is here, and it's madness.

Already, in the day leading up the start of free agency: The Knicks traded for Andrea Bargnani (?!?), the Rockets waived Aaron Brooks and Carlos Delfino and traded Thomas Robinson, the Mavs have renounced rights to Darren Collison, and the Pistons are primed to offer Josh Smith a HUGE 4 year deal.

We're looking at a strange, long ride going forward.

So, to prep you for the whole ordeal, I've put together a handy dandy cheat sheet for the start of free agency.

First things first: with the official renouncement of Collison and Roddy B's Bird Rights by way of not sending offer sheet, with the drafting of Larkin, and with the trade of Cunningham, the Mavs have (officially) $45,447,042 committed between Dirk, Marion, Vince, Larkin, Crowder, the cap holds on OJ and Wright, and Roster Charges. This would net the Mavs with $13,052,958 in cap space.

I included OJ and Wright's cap holds because they are not technically taken off of the Maverick's cap sheet until the Mavs go on record as turning down their Bird Rights, which they haven't done yet. However, the Mavs could renounce those contracts hours before any potential deal, so I'll take them out.

That puts the Mavs at exactly $40,719,109 committed between Dirk, Vince, Larkin, Marion, Crowder and roster charges, netting $17,780,891 in cap space.

(Conveniently, I based these calculations -- notice that I finally stopped rounding -- off of Shamsports and Mark Deeks' roster sheets, but my numbers came out to within hundreds of Tim McMahon's over at ESPN Dallas, so for consistencies' sake, I used McMahon's numbers here).

To bring the cap space over to the Dwight Howard maximum ($20.8 million), the Mavericks had hoped that Shawn Marion would opt out of his contract before the free agency period, and re-sign at enough of a discount to allow the Mavericks to sign Howard. Marion did not opt out of the contract, so the Mavs are stuck now at the $17,780,891 spot.

To get Howard, now, the Mavericks are either going to have to sign-and-trade Matrix or VC to LA, or dump one of their contracts to a suitor prior to picking up Dwight.

Neither of which, of course, is out of the question. Both are perfectly reasonable moves to make that the Mavs could almost certainly pull off, since both Marion and Carter's contracts are expiring next season.

However, don't underestimate how hard it might be to trade Marion prior to a Dwight signing. He's great, but his contract is really unappealing on the market. Don't be too shocked if the Mavs end up moving Vince instead.

Really though, the point here being that at the moment, Dallas isn't quite there. But they will be by July 10th if Dwight seems legitimately interested in the Mavs, even if they have to move the widely-liked Vince Carter to do it.

But, of course, the whole thing is thrown through a loop by the Rajon Rondo deals rumored to be in the works. As of the last time that I was aware, the trade talks were stalled by the Celtics demanding Dirk as payment.

Of course, the talks could start back any time...if they ever existed at all. Adrian Wojnarowski reported on the trade, but again, it was only credited to "sources," and there are a few outlets denying that the talks even happened. Though, for what it's worth, I would trust Woj's reporting with my first child's life.

At any rate, for the Mavericks to be able to take both Rondo and Dwight, a very specific set of occurrences need to take place:

First, the Mavs have to verbally agree with the Celtics on a trade that would have to involve Marion as the centerpiece, probably with Larkin included. Who is put around Marion is pretty irrelevant past that point.

Once the verbal agreement is made, the Mavs would have to use Rondo as a major selling point for Dwight. I say that this needs to happen mostly because there is little point in trying to wrangle both players if the Mavericks don't use Rondo as a way to lure Dwight in.

If Dwight could be convinced to come, to be able to afford him the Mavs would need to either: dump Vince's salary off to a third party for future draft picks -- or even just cash -- or sign and trade Vince off to the Lakers (presuming that LA has fallen under the tax, which I believe that they have).

Once Vince has been sent off and Dwight has been signed, then the aforementioned Rondo deal can be agreed to and completed. The trade would need to happen after singing Dwight because teams can trade over the cap, to an extent, but players cannot be signed once you're over the cap.

Unfortunately, at the absolute best, that leaves the Mavericks with Rondo (plus other package pieces: Wallace, Bass, Lee), Crowder, Dirk, and Dwight as the only players on the roster. The Mavs would have the Max MLE (at $5.15 million) to sign with, but other than that Dallas would be limited to veteran minimum contracts to fill the rest of the roster.

More Mike James (or...T-Mac?) would be imminent, then.

But, of course, that's all presuming a strict adherence to Plan Powder. If Dwight really makes his decision as quickly as he says he's going to, and he does not commit to Dallas, then the Mavericks have the rest of free agency with which to spend their $17,780,891.

However, the "let's spend money for the sake of spending money because we blew it on signing the superstar" mentality worries me a lot. I'm not saying that I want more one-season contracts, I'm just really worried that if Cuban whiffs on Dwight, he'll panic and spend $11 million on Monta Ellis.

Plus, even if the Mavs don't nail down Dwight, it's possible that they fill out the roster and then pull the trigger on the Rondo trade anyway. While there aren't any other major players worth looking at besides D12 or CP3 -- in my opinion -- there are plenty of quality role players available: Tony Allen, Tyreke Evans, Jarrett Jack, Marco Belinelli, and others could all even conceivably be signed together within the almost $18 million that the Mavs have now.

And, of course, it's possible that everything fails. Either no one is interested, or Dwight takes so long that the Celtics back out and then Dwight goes to Houston, etc.

It's also probably worth noting that as of this moment, only the Rockets, Hawks, and Lakers have the immediate resources to give Dwight the Max (with Robinson's trade to Portland, the Rockets have officially cleared their cap).

So that's where the team stands at the moment, with exact numbers and everything.

Hope you feel primed, because Free Agency is here.