When Mark Cuban talks, we all listen. Here’s a look at the latest thoughts from the mind of the league’s most charismatic owner..
- The Mavericks need more from offseason acquisition Samuel Dalembert, Cuban said before last night’s win over the Pelicans, writes ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon. They signed him to a two-year, $7.6MM deal with a partial guarantee for the second season because they needed a big man who could serve as a defensive anchor. It has been said that Dallas’ front office has long coveted the big man as well.
- Cuban said the Mavs have thought about sending center Bernard James down to play for the D-League’s Texas Legends, tweets Dwain Price of the Star-Telegram.
- Cuban pointed out that if the Eastern Conference’s struggles continue, it will mean that better draft picks will be coming to the West, writes Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News. “As unbalanced as it seems, it means that worse teams will make the playoffs in the East, which hurts their draft position, which means that better teams in the West will get better players out of the draft since this is a good draft,” Cuban said. “So the law of unintended consequences comes into play. So many teams in the East weren’t really out there to be the best possible. They’ll win games against each other, have better records, get into the playoffs, which means they won’t be in the lottery, so they’ll end up hurting [themselves].”
Let’s round up a few Wednesday notes out of the Southwest Division….
- Fab Melo‘s size should give him a chance to make the Mavericks‘ opening night roster, though the fact that Dallas is carrying 15 guaranteed contracts will make it an uphill battle, writes Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News. According to Sefko, if Melo were to displace a player with a guaranteed deal, Bernard James would likely be the odd man out.
- While the Mavs will have to cut at least five players from their current 20-man roster eventually, head coach Rick Carlisle tells Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he’s in no rush to do so.
- Most NBA players are happy to land multiyear contracts rather than annually revisiting the free agent process. But as Mark Deeks explains in a piece for HoopsWorld, longer-term deals that are heavily non-guaranteed are far more advantageous to teams than players. Deeks points to the Rockets as a team that frequently takes advantage of the benefits of non-guaranteed deals, using Omri Casspi‘s two-year pact as an example.
- When the Grizzlies first acquired Jon Leuer from the Cavaliers, he looked like a throw-in in a cost-cutting deal. However, Memphis re-signed Leuer to a three-year contract with two guaranteed seasons this summer, and as he tells Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the former Wisconsin Badger is “really happy” with his situation.
JULY 26TH: The Mavericks have officially re-signed James, the team announced today in a press release.
JULY 22ND: Having cleared waivers yesterday after being released by the Mavericks last week, Bernard James is expected to return to Dallas, according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein (via Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com).
The Mavericks had previously pushed back James' contract guarantee date in hopes of keeping him on the roster, but ultimately needed to waive him to clear about $300K in cap room to help sign Monta Ellis. James had been on a minimum-salary ($789K) contract, whereas an empty roster spot only has a cap hold of about $490K.
When Ellis signs, the path will be clear for the Mavs to re-sign James to another minimum-salary deal, since teams are permitted to go over the cap for minimum deals. According to Stein, the two sides have an agreement in principle to complete a new contract once Ellis officially inks his deal.
Center Bernard James has cleared waivers, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com (via Twitter). The Mavs were forced to waive James for cap reasons, but today's news clears the way for him to re-sign with Dallas.
James is an athletic big man entering his second season in the league and is thought to have a decent amount of upside potential. With a salary less than $1MM, it seemed like there was a good chance of James being picked up by another club. One possible deterrent with James was that claiming him off of waivers would have meant guaranteeing his salary for 2013/14.
The 28-year-old center saw just 9.9 minutes per contest last season and averaged 2.8 PPG.
The Mavericks have waived Bernard James, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Dallas tried hard to avoid losing James but were forced to in order to create enough cap room to sign guard Monta Ellis.
Dallas hopes to re-sign James, but that could prove to be difficult as he is an athletic, blossoming big man who earns less than $1MM per season. The left-handed center saw just 9.9 minutes per contest last season and averaged 2.8 PPG. Despite his limited burn, rival teams see decent potential in the Florida State product.
The Mavs have made Samuel Dalembert a target for the past couple of weeks, and now it appears they're nearing an agreement with the veteran center, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com tweets. Dallas is one of several teams looking at Greg Oden, but Stein adds that the Mavs feel compelled to add Dalembert after missing out on Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum (Twitter link).
Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning news wrote over the weekend that Dallas and the Pinnacle Management client were "inching toward" a deal, so it looks like they're finally approaching the end of that process. Stein identified Dalembert as the Mavs' prime target a week ago.
As for Oden, the Mavs are aware they can be outbid, but they've met face-to-face with the Mike Conley Sr. client and continue to try to sell him on the idea of making his comeback in Dallas, Stein tweets. The Mavs would like to sign both Dalembert and Oden, and with the prospect of a crowded frontcourt, the team convinced Bernard James to postpone the date when his contract for this season goes from non-guaranteed from fully guaranteed, as Stein also reports via Twitter. That date was originally this past Monday, but James' salary remains non-guaranteed. Dallas wants to let its pursuit of the other big men play out before committing to James, though the team is still high on him, according to Stein (Twitter link).
The team is also likely to re-sign Brandan Wright, one of its own free agents. None of the big men the Mavs appear to be going after have the cachet of Howard or even the oft-injured Bynum, so it's odd to see them place such a priority on Dalembert, who played only a bit part with Milwaukee this past season. Dalembert would seem to be a lateral move, at best, from Chris Kaman and Elton Brand, who've signed with other teams after spending 2012/13 with the Mavs.
In addition to new contracts being finalized and signed, there are a few more cap details worth keeping an eye on throughout July. We won't be updating our traded player exceptions list to reflect all the latest deals until the dust has settled a little and each move has been officially completed, but as our list shows, the Bulls had their $5MM Kyle Korver TPE expire overnight.
There are also a number of 2013/14 salaries becoming guaranteed this month, including Kyle Lowry and Lance Stephenson earlier this week. Mavericks second-year big man Bernard James also appears to be guaranteed for the coming year, since he wasn't waived by July 15th, per Mark Deeks of ShamSports.com.
Here are a few more of the latest contract and cap details worth noting, courtesy of Eric Pincus of HoopsWorld:
- Mike Dunleavy's two-year deal with the Bulls is worth the team's full mini mid-level exception, for a total of about $6.51MM. Meanwhile, Chicago second-round pick Erik Murphy gets a two-year, minimum-salary that's not fully guaranteed for either season.
- The Bulls also used the stretch provision on Richard Hamilton, allowing the team to spread his guaranteed $1MM over the next three seasons (Twitter link).
- The Cavaliers signed Jarrett Jack for a flat $6.3MM per season, while Earl Clark received a flat $4.25MM per year (Twitter links).
- Jose Calderon's starting salary with the Mavericks is $6,791,570 (Twitter link). With annual 4.5% raises, that works out to exactly $29MM over four years. Additionally, Gal Mekel's three-year contract with the team is for the minimum and is fully guaranteed.
- J.J. Hickson gets the full mid-level for three years from the Nuggets, which works out to about $16.15MM overall.
- Two players who were involved in the same sign-and-trade transaction have had their numbers confirmed. Randy Foye receives $3MM from the Nuggets in each of his first two seasons before a $3.135MM 2015/16 salary, which isn't fully guaranteed. Andre Iguodala, meanwhile, signed with the Warriors for exactly $48MM over four years, but his salaries will decrease from $12.87MM this season to $11.13MM in the fourth season (Twitter link).
- For the record, that gap between Iguodala's and Foye's first-year salaries should represent the value of the trade exception created by Denver: $9,868,632. I wonder if Iguodala's salary starts so high in part to help the Nuggets create a larger TPE.
Marc Stein of ESPN.com discussed the Mavericks in a radio interview with a Dallas station and touched on a number of topics concerning the Mavs' present and future rosters. SportsDayDFW.com has the transcript. Here are the highlights:
Stein suggested the Mavericks should think about tanking to position themselves for the draft lottery:
“The playoffs are out of reach. … There’s just too much ground to make up, and to me, what’s the point anyway? To me, it’s going to come to a point where it’s time to play the young guys, it’s time to focus on development and the reality is, even if this isn’t a good draft, the highest possible lottery pick will benefit this team the most.”
He also suggested that part of the Mavs' planning for the future should involve giving more time to rookies Bernard James, Jared Cunningham, and Jae Crowder:
“It’s time to play James. it’s time to play Cunningham. it’s time to feature Crowder more. I mean, nobody wants to hear that but that’s the reality.”
Stein also dismisses talk that the Mavs may look to trade Dirk Nowitzki:
“It’s just so hard to get players at Dirk’s level that I just don’t see any way the Mavs want to give up their one known, and especially because of the relationship he and Cuban have, what he’s meant to this community. Dirk’s frustrated right now. That’s clear with the stuff he’s been saying all week, but he does not want to go anywhere. He wants to finish his career here. He’s saying all this stuff clearly because he wants to see a fix. He wants the team fixed. It’s not because he wants to leave."
According to Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com, Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey is hoping Nicolas Batum can increase his scoring this season like Eric Gordon did in his third year, when his PPG jumped from 16.9 to 22.3. If Batum can take that sort of step forward, Olshey says he has reason to be optimistic about the Blazers' future.
"I'm not putting a number on Nic, but if Nic can make a jump, if Wes [Matthews] can make a jump, if L.A. [LaMarcus Aldridge] can just be L.A., and Damian [Lillard] can be who we think he has the ability to be, we're not that far away," Olshey said. "And having a lottery pick potentially, and three second [round picks], and having $13MM in room potentially, is a pretty good position to be in eight months from now."
Here are a few more updates from around the Western Conference: