How much should Mavs bid on Andrew Bynum?

How much is Andrew Bynum worth?

How does an NBA front office determine the value of a 25-year-old center who was an All-Star two years ago and didn’t play a second last season? That’s the challenge the Dallas decision-makers will likely face soon.

ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reports that Bynum, who is visiting Cleveland now, also has sit-down meetings scheduled in Dallas and Atlanta this week. Medical evaluations by the teams’ athletic trainers and physicians should be part of those meetings, providing a big piece of the puzzle front offices must ponder before bidding for Bynum.

The Cavaliers have $15 million in cap space and could make a big one-year offer, potentially complicating the process for the Mavs. (UPDATE: Yahoo! Sports reports that the Cavs have offered Bynum an incentive-laden deal worth up to $24 million over two years, with the second season being a team option.)

If Cleveland guarantees big money for one year, Bynum wouldn’t be motivated to sign a contract with the Mavs that included team outs after one season tied into the health of his problematic knees. Maybe a deal could be worked out that included partial guarantees for the second season, with triggers based off minutes or games played to guarantee more money.

The Mavs have approximately $8 million in salary-cap space at the moment. That could increase to $8.6 million if the Mavs waived the nonguaranteed contracts of guard Josh Akognon and center Bernard James – or $8.3 million if they waived just one of them.

Would that be enough to get Bynum? What if it’s a multi-year deal? The Mavs could go as high as approximately $37 million over four years if they dump the nonguaranteed deals.

The Mavs might also have to decide whether taking a chance on Bynum merits creating additional cap space. In other words, would they be willing to move Shawn Marion or Vince Carter if the bidding for Bynum goes higher than their current cap space?

Bynum represents the Mavs’ best chance to acquire a cornerstone-quality player -- or, really, just a starting-caliber center -- this summer after Dallas didn’t win the Dwight Howard sweepstakes. But he’s also a huge risk. The Mavs must determine how much they’re willing to bet on Bynum.