Summer agenda: Dallas Mavericks

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The Vertical Front-Office Insider Bobby Marks, a 20-year executive with the Nets, offers his thoughts on the offseason plans of NBA teams whose seasons have ended.

THE PLAN GOING FORWARD
Chandler Parsons’ contract
Since signing a $46 million contract with Dallas in 2014, Chandler Parsons has proven to be a building block when healthy. But it’s his health that should give Dallas pause when Parsons likely opts out of his contract.

Chandler Parsons' knee problems are a major issue. (AP)
Chandler Parsons' knee problems are a major issue. (AP)
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Parsons, 27, is still in the prime of his career but has been limited the last two seasons with right knee injuries. Minute restrictions this season and missing the playoffs again because of a second consecutive knee surgery should have Dallas relying on their doctors to find a comfort level with Parsons’ salary.

Even with a rising salary cap, Dallas would be wise to put in injury-protection language pertaining to the knee in Parsons’ contract. The problem for Dallas is that Parsons will have plenty of suitors that will overlook his recent injuries and overpay him for his services.

Be smart with cap space
The lazy approach for Dallas would be to get free agency over by the first week of July by handing out a max contract and then sitting on the sidelines for the rest of the summer, adding journeyman free agents to minimum contracts.

The smart thing would be to take a long-term approach instead of bandaging the roster. Even with the likelihood of $26 million in cap space, the Mavericks are not a player away from contending in the West.

Sure, the Mavericks were ravaged by injuries heading into their playoff loss to Oklahoma, but the past few seasons prove Dallas is treading water and has stagnated in rebuilding its roster.

Infusion of youth
The Mavericks’ draft history is not a pretty picture.

Draft misses (Shane Larkin, Jared Cunningham and Dominique Jones) and trading 2014 and 2016 first-round picks for Lamar Odom and Rajon Rondo, respectively, have left the Mavericks without an infrastructure of young players. Instead, the Mavericks, like every summer, have relied on cap space as their first option to rebuild.

Dallas did get a positive look this season at what happens when you sprinkle some youth to a veteran roster with rookie Justin Anderson. Hopefully, the Mavericks have learned from past failures that short-term fixes do not pay off when trading first-round picks, especially for players who were not part of their future.

Dallas needs to find a balance of youth and veterans, focus on building through the draft and use cap space as a complementary option.

Cleanse the roster
The most important part of the Mavericks’ organization this off-season is not owner Mark Cuban or general manager Donnie Nelson, but the Mavericks’ medical and training staff.

Can Wes Matthews regain his form after struggling in his post-Achilles’ surgery season? Have the days of free agent Deron Williams playing a full season without injury passed him by? Will Parsons’ right knee limit him another season?

Each player’s status could play a crucial role in Dallas’ improvement this season.

TEAM NEEDS
The eventual replacement for Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki will not be found this summer in free agency. That could happen in 2017, when the free-agent pool of players is much stronger. But the Mavericks can start addressing their need for a suitable backup this summer. How the Mavericks address this need should have an impact on Nowitzki prolonging his career.

The Mavs need to start planning for life without Dirk Nowitzki. (Getty)
The Mavs need to start planning for life without Dirk Nowitzki. (Getty)

Dallas should also be looking for an athletic center in his prime of his career. The best situation would be bringing Zaza Pachulia back on a manageable contract, and finding a younger version of Tyson Chandler who can rebound, defend, block shots and provide offense when needed.

Dallas needs to focus on acquiring youthful bench players who can play meaningful minutes and have the potential to develop.

The days of signing projects and journeymen should be over.

SUMMER CAP BREAKDOWN

Guaranteed

  2016-17

    Insider info

1. Wes Matthews

  $17,145,838

    None

2. Chandler Parsons

  $16,023,000

    Player option

3. Devin Harris

  $4,227,996

    None

4. Jose Barea

  $4,096,950

    None

5. Justin Anderson

  $1,514,160

    None

6. Jeremy Evans

  $1,227,286

    None

Non/Partial

  2016-17

    Guarantee date

7. JaVale McGee

  $1,403,611

    July 12

8. Salah Mejri

  $874,636

    July 12

FA cap holds

  2016-17

    Free-agent status

9. Dirk Nowitzki

  $12,500,001

    Full Bird rights

10. Zaza Pachulia

  $9,880,000

    Full Bird rights

11. Raymond Felton

  $7,505,595

    Full Bird rights

12. Deron Williams

  $6,454,769

    Non-Bird rights

13. David Lee

  $2,502,805

    Non-Bird rights

14. DwightPowell

  $1,180,431

    Restricted/early Bird rights

15. Charlie Villanueva

  $980,431

    Full Bird rights

DEAD MONEY
Maurice N’dour, $437,318

Gal Mekel, $315,759

CAP PICTURE

Guaranteed

   $44,235,230

Non/partial 

   $2,278,247  

FA cap holds

   $41,004,032

First-round holds

   $0

Minimum holds

   $0

Dead money

   $753,077

Total 

   $88,270,586

Salary cap

   $92,000,000

Cap space

   $3,729,414

PROJECTED CAP SPACE
It is all about timing this summer for Dallas.

The Mavericks will need to figure out what to do with their own free agents before room can be created.

Although technically right at the salary cap, the Mavericks will have cap flexibility once a decision is made on the $60 million in free-agent cap holds, which include Parsons’ contract once he opts out.

The likely scenario for Dallas is to leave the holds of Nowitzki, Williams and Parsons on the books and use the $22 million-$25 million in potential room to go free-agent shopping.

JUNE DRAFT PICKS
First round: To Boston

Second round: Own

FUTURE PICKS
First round
Mavericks own all their future first-round picks.

Key rights to: Satnam Singh (Second round, pick No. 52, 2015)

PREVIOUS SUMMER AGENDAS: Nets | Pelicans | Timberwolves | Lakers | Knicks | Wizards | Bucks | 76ers | Nuggets | Kings | Bulls | Magic | Suns | Jazz | Grizzlies | Pistons

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