Thank Chandler Parsons' recruiting or Chris Paul's high five freeze out or Mark Cuban's charisma or Dan Fegan, the agent who had a hand in orchestrating it all -- regardless of who gets the most credit, DeAndre Jordan is a Maverick now. The entire country celebrated Jordan's decision with partying and fireworks on Saturday, but now we're ready to move forward into the deep cuts of DeAndre's decision: where does Dallas go now?
For starters, the Mavericks still have an entire roster to fill out. This is what the Mavericks have historically done best, targeting castoffs list Brandan Wright, Vince Carter and Al-Farouq Aminu and turning them into players that are quintessential to that season's success. The bargain hunting, garage sale shopping approach from Dallas in the second and third week of free agency is the front office's best talent. Here's an idea about how they'll go about it this year.
How many spots are open?
The Mavericks entered free agency with six players under contract: Dirk Nowitzki, Chandler Parsons, Devin Harris, Dwight Powell, Raymond Felton and first round draft pick Justin Anderson.
They've since "officially" come to terms with three players -- DeAndre Jordan, Wes Matthews and Jeremy Evans -- and have been linked heavily to three more: Richard Jefferson returning at the minimum, J.J. Barea at the room exception and Jeremy Lin.
That's a 12-man roster right there, but it's still missing a couple of pieces at the minimum. The Mavericks need a true backup center; Evans can play there occasionally in smallball lineups like Brandan Wright did, but he doesn't have the size to earn significant time there. (Samuel Dalembert?) Given Matthews' injury and that his rehab may keep him out for a portion of the season, another veteran guard/forward who can shoot would be a welcome addition as well. (Jason Terry?) For the 15th slot, Charlie Villanueva seems like a good guess.
How will they bring Barea back?
For the most part, "exceptions" are a limited way for teams over the cap to still sign new players. You likely know the mid-level exception (MLE) and bi-annual exception, lovingly referred to as BAE, but the Mavericks are going to use a different one on Barea: the room exception, which will pay him $2.81 million next season.
When you sign a player with cap space, like the Mavericks did with Jordan and Matthews, you lose the exceptions you're familiar with. Those are for teams over the cap. The room exception is a small consolation prize -- a few million you can throw at someone if you've used up all your space but still need to fill out part of your roster.
An announcement about Barea likely won't happen until July 9. That's when contracts can officially be signed (whereas to this point, everything has been verbal agreements, which everyone in the NBA considers just as binding). Barea will come last since his is an exception, after Jordan and Matthews and everyone else. It's a good guess that he'll sign for two seasons, too, the max amount the room exception allows.
How can they create room for Jeremy Lin?
There's a number of ways and like Barea, this may stretch until July 9 because not knowing exactly what the NBA salary cap for the 2015-16 season will be makes things difficult. Here's a look at the cap with both numbers.
Technically, if the Mavericks signed Jordan or Matthews to deals that were even all across, they're over the cap in both scenarios. But that's unlikely to happen; many if not most NBA contracts are backloaded to the maximum 4.5 percent increase allowed on a year-to-year basis. That will already happen with Jordan's contract -- his $18.9 million or $19.5 million (those numbers may end up being slightly higher than the actual contract) will increase by 4.5 percent throughout the life of the contract. However, Matthews' $14.3 million can be reduced to about $13.4 million the first year. As long as the cap rises to $69.1 million as it reportedly will, it's enough for the Mavericks to be operating legally.
But the Mavericks still need to create the $3.5 to $4 million Lin's likely looking for. If the Mavericks stretch waived Raymond Felton -- cutting him and stretching the remaining money out over four years (that's why Mekel's name is on the above sheet for a similar action) -- they only free about $2.6 million, which is reportedly not enough. If at all possible, they'd prefer to trade him.
A sign-and-trade feature Lin coming from Los Angeles to Dallas while the Mavericks send back Felton and a future second round pick or two seems reasonable from my end. The Mavericks could probably sign Lin to as much as $4.5 million or so in that scenario and have the money still match. However, like Barea, I suspect this will all happen after Jordan and Matthews are officially recorded on the books on June 9.
I won't even get into three-way sign-and-trades because while there are theoretical scenarios that could work, all of them are very unlikely and exceedingly difficult to make work, as anyone who's been around the NBA a while knows.
Will anything happen between now and July 9?
The Mavericks can still agree with players for the minimum to finish filling out those final two or three roster spots, like they did with Evans on Sunday. Beyond that, my guess is that it will quiet. NBA free agencies don't usually happen this quickly. Last year, the Mavericks hadn't signed a single player until they filed an offer sheet for Chandler Parsons on July 9, 2014, thanks to LeBron James' decision slowing everything else to a grind.
But if you think this is bad, next year, the July moratorium on signing players is July 1 through 11, even longer than this year's eight-day period. There might be even more sitting around and waiting after the big names go early.
Thanks to @jared_thigpen for some quick feedback on a couple errors I made. He's a great Mavericks follow on Twitter.