When the Dallas Mavericks elected to break up their team following the 2011 championship run, it was largely because of a big plan to retool and bring in younger superstars to carry the load as Dirk Nowitzki aged. Those plans never materialized and after a slow decent, Dallas briefly bottomed out before drafting bedrock piece in Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson in 2018.
In those years following 2011, the Mavericks went over the salary cap, but never approached the luxury tax line imposed on teams following the ratification of the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2011. There was never the chance; the best way to approach and pass that line is to draft well or trade well then re-sign those players to lucrative deals (using Bird Rights, teams are usually granted the benefit of offering more money to retain players). The luxury tax significantly higher than the salary cap, for example, 2022-23 cap is $122 million, and the projected luxury tax is $149 million.
It’s just not possible to approach the tax line by signing free agents as you must be under the salary cap in order to sign players to significant deals. Team’s are granted exceptions to sign players if they are over the cap, but it’s minimal compared to the percentage of the cap deals that “home grown” players can sign (think Luka Doncic signing a deal taking him from around $10 million last season to $36 this upcoming season.
All of this is to say, understanding the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement is HARD. Last week, we started a series of posts designed to break down some of the complexities in what the Mavericks have to do in order to sign free agents, trade for free agents, and use the various means at their disposal to make the team better. We started with a Spotify Live show (which you should download and join us during, they are fun) where CBAMavs and I worked through some of the broader questions people have been having.
On top of that, CBAMavs also put out his first big explainer, regarding what is possible as far as a Jalen Brunson sign-and-trade goes. Short story, it’s hard to do anything there. Longer story... well, click here to read it. If you can’t see the embedded podcast above, click here as well.
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