Today we’re rolling out Part II of our fantasy offseason series. Last week we took a wild shot downfield designed to increase the team’s star quotient without giving up Erick Dampier’s contract so that the Mavs stay in the mix for the LeBron James dream. This week we’ll take on a smaller “companion” move designed to fill the void left at center if Dallas was to use big Brendan Haywood in a sign-and-trade to acquire another player -- a move that I still believe is the Mavs' best play. Target: Marcin Gortat.
The Basics: We all remember the story of last summer. The Mavs offered their full mid-level to Gortat, who was a restricted free agent. Most people thought that was too rich for Orlando’s blood and that they wouldn’t match. Most people were wrong. Orlando did match and went into this season with a payroll over $82 million. That would be their same payroll next season before they address their backup point guard situation (both Jason Williams and Anthony Johnson are free agents). The Mavericks were interested in paying Gortat the money he’s making now and his numbers are virtually the same. He’s trapped behind Dwight Howard. Seems like the fit is still there.
The How: The Mavericks could offer J.J. Barea and DeShawn Stevenson for Gortat and the two teams could haggle over who was deserving of cash considerations. The move would be primarily financial for Orlando, though Barea would allow them to acquire a solid young backup point guard with playoff experience who has minimal financial burden. Both Stevenson and Barea will be in the last year of their deals (assuming Stevenson exercises his player option for a shade over $4 million -- surely he will; if he doesn’t this trade isn’t even possible).
The Why: Orlando was very bold financially, but it’s tough to pay the backup to your franchise player that much dough. He’s guaranteed around $28 million over the next four seasons. Factor in the luxury tax and that’s ridiculous money for a guy playing 13 minutes a night. He’s way more valuable to the Mavericks. And Barea would allow the Magic to move forward without adding additional payroll for a backup point. They could utilize Stevenson as a trade chip or insurance in case Matt Barnes elects to go back to free agency. And the move saves them $800,00 for next season before they add another backup big. If they don’t re-sign Barea and Stevenson after next season they’d still be off the hook for $24 million in salary before you factor in luxury tax considerations. They’d be able to find a veteran big on the cheap who wants to chase a ring.
The Bottom Line: This would be a great move for the Mavericks to get a young active big who is reasonably priced, but Orlando would have to be on board with moving him for savings -- though Barea is highly regarded backup point because he’s so reasonably priced at less than $2 million for one more season. No matter how well Orlando is doing both on the floor and financially, it can’t continue to spend Monopoly money on backups. The Mavs would still bring Damp back after trading him for another major asset at minimal cost, assuming the team he is traded to releases him. Dallas would have a good rotation at the 5 and be able to utilize Haywood as an extremely valuable S&T piece.