Mavs looking into trading Finley to East
Option could be win-win: financial relief, another player
02:11 AM CDT on Sunday, July 3, 2005
By EDDIE SEFKO / The Dallas Morning News
Since news broke of a provision in the NBA's new collective bargaining agreement that allows a team to waive a player and be relieved of his luxury-tax burden, the Mavericks have been flooded with inquiries about Michael Finley.
The bottom line is unlikely to change – Finley, in all probability, has played his last game as a Maverick.
But the mechanism for his departure could change. Although the possibility still exists that the Mavericks could use the "amnesty" clause in the new CBA, president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said they also have been approached with trade possibilities that could accomplish the same thing: provide financial relief for the team, as well as the bonus of acquiring an asset in return.
"Our first choice would be to keep Fin in a Mavericks uniform until he retires," Nelson said. "But as we run through the creative options, there seems to be less and less prospect of that happening. We have heard from a lot of people."
The Mavericks have been exploring all their options since they received word of the new clause in the CBA, which is expected to be signed by July 22. Any team can use a one-time exception to waive a player and not have that player count against any luxury tax the owner must pay.
The team would still have to pay the player's contract – over $51 million in Finley's case – but could save that amount in luxury taxes. The luxury tax has been imposed twice and owners expect it to be in effect in coming years, too. When teams exceed a certain payroll, they have to pay a dollar-for-dollar tax above that threshold.
Owner Mark Cuban could save $51 million in tax alone on Finley's deal.
Although that possibility is tempting, a more palatable solution would be to trade Finley for a player or players with shorter-term contracts, preferably an Eastern Conference team that would afford Finley a chance to win a championship.
There is another reason trading Finley might be feasible. The new CBA has restructured the trade rules that allow teams to match up salaries within 125 percent of each other for trade purposes. Previously, combined salaries had to be within 115 percent.
When speaking of Finley's $15.9 million salary this season, that means an extra $1.5 million buffer on matching up salaries for trade purposes.
What kind of players could the Mavs expect if they were to trade Finley rather than waive him?
A sampling of possibilities, if the Mavericks are intent on shipping him to an Eastern contender:
• Indiana could package the contract of Reggie Miller, who has announced his retirement, or Scot Pollard with Austin Croshere and get in the range of Finley's contract.
• Miami has Eddie Jones, whose contract ($30 million for two years) is similar to Finley's, but one year shorter.
If the Bulls want to bring back the hometown hero, they could package Antonio Davis and Eric Piatkowski.