When their season ended in the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs, few thought that the Golden State Warriors would have the necessities needed to become major players in the 2013 offseason. The team was already capped-out, with cornerstones Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut on their second contracts, and rookie deals for various helpers set to be extended into big boy deals in the coming years. It’s true that the team had a series of expiring contracts that could be used as trade bait, but over the last few years most NBA teams have stopped biting on the allure of the expiring deal.
Then Utah stepped up, and was able to pull a batch of draft picks merely for rising up to the NBA’s minimum salary and taking on Golden State’s crew of Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins, and Brandon Rush in return. In a clever move for both sides, the Warriors were now devoid of draft help, but rife with cap space – and a shot at do-it-all swingman Andre Iguodala.
And the Dallas Mavericks? Bridesmaids, once again. It appears as if Dre was just an hour away from signing with the Mavericks before the Warriors swooped in, all full of space to sign Iguodala to a four-year, $48 million contract. Rusty Simmons at the San Francisco Chronicle recently detailed Warrior general manager Bob Myers’ frantic attempts to both clear space, and pounce on his new centerpiece:
Myers told Iguodala's agent, Rob Pelinka, "Don't tease me with a player like Andre Iguodala." Myers said he repeatedly walked into his house after 15- or 16-hour days and told his wife that a deal wasn't going to happen.
"There were 25 moments of panic," said Myers, who was still unshaved and admittedly exhausted. "... This thing was on life support 15 times.
"It was a very unlikely scenario that actually played out for us."
Finally, an hour before Iguodala was to sign with the Mavericks, the Warriors made two concessions in the deal with Utah and were able to send Jefferson, Biedrins and Brandon Rush - along with two first-round picks and two seconds.
A day later, Denver wanted to be part of the deal, and the Warriors gave up a third second-round pick to the Nuggets in order to make it a sign-and-trade deal that afforded them use of the full mid-level and bi-annual exceptions and granted traded-player exceptions for $11 million and $4 million.
The Warriors used the mid-level and bi-annual exceptions to sign three free agents - forward Marreese Speights, center Jermaine O'Neal and guard Toney Douglas. Myers said the team hopes to use the traded-player exceptions to recoup a draft pick and add a player closer to the trade deadline.
That last part, like the Utah trade, involves an instance of each team getting its particular back scratched. Because of various machinations that teams engage in to work around salary cap laws, the Warriors were able to have the best of both worlds – grabbing a high end free agent with cap space, while working with the sort of exceptions that are meant to be utilized by teams that are over the cap. All while rebuilding teams like Utah and Denver get picks and flexibility to work with on their end of things.
And in the end of things, the only team to come away with nothing was the Dallas Mavericks. And this time it was for Andre Iguodala – a damn good player, but certainly not the one to guarantee the sort of rebirth that would be topped off next year with the Mavs signing yet another max-salaried stud.
That this is how bad it is. A 29-year old swingman making eight figures a year, coming off of his worst season in years and probably not a perfect fit nor someone to guarantee a return to the playoffs for Dallas, still couldn’t be lassoed into becoming a Maverick. Even ‘Plan B’ is falling short.
Again, as we’ve stated throughout this rebuilding process for Dallas, the Mavericks haven’t had great timing or luck on their side; though we do understand the front office’s approach. The most oft-heard complaint regarding the team is its refusal to compete with New York’s free agent offer for Tyson Chandler in December of 2011, but while we respect Tyson as a player and person to no end, he’s battled injuries for most of his career, he was clearly hampered by several maladies during the 2013 playoffs, and he still has nearly $28.7 million left on his contract with the Knicks.
Another complaint points to Mark Cuban passing on a face to face meeting with Deron Williams one year ago in the attempt to bring the point guard to Dallas, but was Williams going to leave more money on the table in Brooklyn (especially after the team swung a deal for Joe Johnson, a player other NBA players inexplicably swoon over) to come to Dallas just because Cuban pressed the flesh?
There is, of course, time. Because the Mavericks have so much flexibility under the cap, the team can still either act as a go-between in a three-team deal (picking up more space and/or picks, along with contributors), or it can still swing a massive deal to bring in the hoped-for second head on the three-tiered monster the team hoped to finish off in 2014. The chaos of the initial first few days of the 2013 offseason delude us into thinking that these trading periods die out by the third week of July, and that’s just not the case.
Teams can get desperate, and they can talk themselves into things – like a straight salary dump with Dallas. And then there are the various training camp scenarios that will pop up in the fall, when teams attempt to extend their youngsters on rookie contracts, and sometimes fall short and freak out – as the Oklahoma City Thunder did last year with James Harden.
That’s Dallas’ hope, at least. We’ll be watching.