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Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Fantasy GM: Dealing Damp's contract

By Jeff "Skin" Wade

For Part IV of our fantasy GM offseason series, we go the route of the Mavericks knowing for certain that Erick Dampier’s non-guaranteed contract will not aid them in netting one of the big-name free agents via a sign-and-trade maneuver. Would Dallas feel compelled to try and squeeze some value out of that contract even if it meant taking on an overpaid player for one season just to get a late lottery pick?

Kirilenko
Utah's Andrei Kirilenko is owed $17.8 million in the final year of his contract.
The Basics: This one is worthy of some lively debate, even if Mav fans would be disappointed that Damp brings back no immediate dividends. Could Mark Cuban stomach Andrei Kirilenko’s massive contract for one season? The Mavericks would look to take on a contract that prohibits the Jazz from signing their own free agents in exchange for a youth injection from the draft and a little long-term financial flexibility. Some would say it’s a waste of Dampier’s contract, but if there are no other options I think I like the idea. I think.

The How: The play would be Damp’s contract, Shawn Marion (Owed $7.3 million next season/$33 million over the next four) and Dallas' 2011 first-round pick for Kirilenko (owed $17.8 million in his final year) and the No. 9 pick in this year’s draft. The tricky part of this deal is when it would happen. Unless agents are giving up the goods before they’re supposed to, Dallas wouldn’t know it's not in play for a big free agent until after the draft. This is only valid if Utah were to draft a guy at No. 9 that Dallas coveted. But we all agree that Dallas needs blue-chip youth, so for the sake of conversation we’ll assume Dallas likes the guy Utah has drafted.

The Why: For Utah it’s obvious: The Jazz are at $60 million in payroll before they even consider resigning Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver or Wes Matthews -- three major playoff contributors while Kirilenko looked on, hurt. This move would take Utah down around $50 million in salary and afford them the opportunity to either sign all three or keep Matthews and Korver while entertaining some sign-and-trade possibilities with Boozer that entailed them getting lower-salaried players who could help. The Jazz would hate the length of Marion’s contract, but it would give them the current flexibility to not take a huge step back in talent. Marion's and Kirilenko’s stats are a wash and they’re the same type of player, but Marion is three years older where Kirilenko stays hurt. For the Mavs, they take a financial hit this year to add some youth and not have to worry about Marion’s productivity three years from now.

The Bottom Line: It’s not splashy and I’m sure Mav fans have much bigger dreams for Damp’s contract as a trade asset, but in my estimation it beats the alternative of simply releasing him if all other options fail. Dallas would still have over $30 million in 2011 expirings and the possibility of an Avery Bradley, Al-Farouq Aminu or (knowing Utah) Cole Aldrich. For Utah, I’d say losing Boozer and Korver is a pretty major step backwards. Maybe whomever they draft at No. 9 is a good enough replacement. I doubt it. Or maybe Rip Hamilton and the No. 7 pick for Big Damp is more your cup of tea. Surely the Pistons wouldn’t give you a lottery pick just to escape Rip’s deal, would they? Or maybe you do the Utah deal and also the Detroit deal with Caron Butler replacing Damp in the Detroit scenario? What just happened? Did we just net Dallas two lottery picks and an aging two-guard with a bad contract? Is it possible to get older and younger at the same time? Freelance fantasy wheeling and dealing is intoxicating. I feel like Nellie.