Mavs Gambling by Clearing Cap Space?
It is always a difficult balance for a defending champion trying to maintain its chemistry and roster stability. In this 66-game, lockout-shortened season, that challenge will be magnified for the Mavs. They face the usual difficulties and also a self-imposed one — a conscious effort to get by in the short term while clearing cap space for a run at free agents Deron Williams and Dwight Howard on July 1.
It’s a calculated risk, but Mavs owner Mark Cuban has never been shy about such things. Dallas already has about $20 million of room cleared for next summer, and by using the amnesty provision on either Brendan Haywood or Shawn Marion and buying out (Lamar) Odom — who has only $2.4 million guaranteed next season — Cuban would have enough room to pay both Williams and Howard, thus setting the table to chase more championships.
The gamble is predicated on a few moving parts that are out of Cuban’s control. First, the Magic have to decide not to trade Howard to the Nets. If Howard goes elsewhere — to the Lakers, for example — then Williams could be there for the taking if he’s displeased enough with the direction of the Nets to opt out of his contract and take about $25 million less than the soon-to-be Brooklyn franchise could offer him.
If Orlando doesn’t trade Howard at all, thus daring him to take a similar pay cut to leave, then the Mavs would be in play for both superstars. Some rival executives believe if anyone could sell Howard and Williams to forgo short-term dollars for the opportunity to chase championships together, it’s Cuban.