Dallas Mavericks: Shabazz Muhammad

Don’t expect the Dallas Mavericks to make a decision about dealing the 13th overall pick until they’re on the clock during Thursday night’s NBA draft.

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The Mavs have done plenty of prep work, aggressively shopping the pick around the league for weeks. They discussed all sorts of scenarios, including swapping the late lottery pick for a future first-rounder, trading down in this draft and even trading up, the latter being by far the least likely scenario.

The plan is to put off committing to anything until just before they make the pick, whether it’s for another team or with the intent to actually keep the player. The Mavs want to see what kind of offers they might get at the last minute.

Among the teams with whom the Mavs have had trade discussions: the Atlanta Hawks, who own the 17th and 18th overall picks; and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who own the 19th, 31st and 33rd picks in addition to No. 1.

The Mavs have made no secret of their interest in moving their first lottery pick since 2000 to avoid the cap hold of $1.655 million. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’d accept a deal they deem to be below market value.

The Mavs’ options include drafting an international player who they could stash overseas for at least another season to eliminate the cap hold this summer. German point guard Dennis Schroeder and Greek small forward Giannis Antetokounmpo are the two most intriguing overseas options for the Mavs, although one or both could be available if Dallas traded down. Russian shooting guard Sergey Karasev is a potential target for teams trying to acquire the 13th overall pick.

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The Mavs could also pick a player they are absolutely confident they could trade in July if their Dwight Howard recruiting pitch is successful and they need to create the additional cap space required to sign the All-Star center.

If they fail to land Howard in that case, the Mavs would at least have a rookie who is a ready-made rotation player, if not a starter. The leading candidates in that scenario: Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams, UCLA swingman Shabazz Muhammad and Gonzaga center/forward Kelly Olynyk.

One certainty about the Mavs’ draft-night wheeling and dealing, according to team sources: Shawn Marion will not be moved.

Marion has been the subject of trade rumors, specifically involving Cleveland, but Mavs sources continue to insist they are not engaging in discussions about dealing Marion at this time. Because Marion’s contract includes an early termination option with a June 29 deadline, he would have to approve any trade involving him before that date.

Potential Mavs target withdraws from draft

June, 17, 2013
6/17/13
10:55
AM CT
The Mavericks' selection in ESPN Insider Chad Ford's mock draft must be revised after his report that Croatian small forward Dario Saric is withdrawing from the draft.

The Mavs were interested enough in Saric for a Donnie Nelson-led contingent to recently travel to Croatia to scout the skilled 6-foot-10 teen. Saric could have been a fit for the Mavs with the No. 13 on two fronts: He’s a high-potential player who could have been stashed in Europe for a season, keeping him from counting against the salary cap this summer.

Alas, Saric has opted to delay his entry into the draft while he develops for another year, taking perhaps the Mavs’ most attractive draft option off the table. There are still many avenues the Mavs could take with their first lottery pick since 2000.

The Mavs are doing their due diligence in determining the value of the pick, actively engaging in trade discussions with teams around the league. That’s one possible way to keep the pick’s $1.655 million hold from counting against the Mavs’ cap as they try to create enough room to offer a max contract to Dwight Howard or Chris Paul.

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(The Mavs technically can’t trade the pick due to the rule forbidding NBA teams from dealing first-round picks in consecutive years due to the protected-through-2017 pick that was part of the Lamar Odom deal/debacle and is now Oklahoma City’s property. But the Mavs can agree in principle on a deal, make the pick for another team and then trade the player.)

The Euro stash is another possibility. German point guard Dennis Schroeder and 7-foot-2 French center/forward Rudy Gobert are among the prospects who have worked out for the Mavs and are projected to be selected in the late lottery or middle of the first round. However, it isn’t clear if either would be interested in delaying the beginning of their NBA career to continue to develop in Europe.

The Mavs could also just pick the best college player available – Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams and UCLA small forward Shabazz Muhammad are big names with Mavs-related buzz -- and address their cap issues in other ways.

The truth is the Mavs don’t yet know what they want to do with the pick.

“It depends on what kind of offers we get,” Mark Cuban told us late last month on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. “Everyone talks about this being a weak draft, so it depends on who falls to No. 13. We’re not going to make the decision way in advance.

"If we like the person at 13, we’ll keep it and we’ll figure something out elsewhere to free up cap space to get there, but that’ll be an option for us. If our guy doesn’t get there, we’ll look at trading it. … If a guy falls, we’ll be happy to take him and figure out how to work the cap. If no one wants to make a trade for whatever reason, we can maybe get a guy to stash overseas somewhere. If we put him overseas and he doesn’t play, he won’t count against our cap. There are so many different options, and we’ll explore them all.”

The only certainty: Saric won’t be one of those options.

UPDATE: “There’s risk involved," Cuban said Monday on KTCK-AM regarding the Mavs exploring possibilities with their lottery pick. "If somebody falls that we think is going to be a superstar and nobody else does, we’ll make the pick. I don’t think that’s likely. On the flip side, if you look at those teams that are over the tax threshold, they can’t sign-and-trade for a free agent. They only have the mini-mid level to sign and for the first time this year, they get hit higher with a new tax level. There are a lot of issues involved with those teams.

“As a result, the one way that they can inexpensively add decent players is through the draft. There able to trade future draft picks and or current players to get current draft picks, so the value of 13 is considerable. We’ll look at taking future draft picks. We’ll look at moving down and getting multiple draft picks. We’ll look at trading for players that we think are good. There are a lot of opportunities and options that we have.”

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dirk Nowitzki
PTS AST STL MIN
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsS. Marion 6.5
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksB. Wright 0.9