First of all, it’s about as flimsy of a $24 million deal as you’ll ever see in the NBA. The second season is a team option. The first season is incentive-laden, protecting the Cavs if Bynum spends a second consecutive season as a millionaire spectator due to his bad knees.
Nevertheless, at the moment, the Mavs can’t come close to offering $12 million per season, no matter how much of it is guaranteed. They can, however, make the case that it’s in Bynum’s best long-term interests to spend this season in Dallas.
How much is world-class medical care worth to an injury-prone NBA center? Ask Tyson Chandler, who arrived in Dallas as damaged goods and left as an NBA champion with a four-year, $55.4 million contract. That's pretty good cash for a big man who flunked a physical to void a trade that would have sent him to Oklahoma City.
The Mavs, who are meeting with Bynum today, proudly consider their medical staff to be the best in the NBA. The Phoenix Suns are certainly in that conversation, but Dallas’ staff led Team USA athletic trainer Casey Smith is certainly among the league’s elite.
If Bynum wants to make as much cash as possible this season, he probably won’t end up in Dallas. The Mavs have approximately $8.2 million of salary-cap space right now, a figure that can get six-figure boosts if they waive players with nonguaranteed contracts (Josh Akognon and Bernard James) or renounce the Early Bird rights of Brandan Wright, whom the Mavs would prefer to return in a backup role.
The only way for the Mavs to match the dollar figures offered by Cleveland is to create more cap space by dealing Shawn Marion or Vince Carter to a team with cap space. That’d be filling one big hole while creating another.
If Bynum wants to maximize his chance to sign a big contract in the future, he’d be wise to consider the Mavs even if they don’t come with the highest bid.