Yep. Pritch slapped.Originally Posted by John Hollinger, ESPN.comPacers-Mavericks deal: Who won?
On paper, Indiana gave up more than it had to for no apparent reason
I don't get it.
On the first day that teams could start making official deals, we had one of the most baffling trades in a while -- Indiana's move of Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones to Dallas for a signed-and-traded Ian Mahinmi.
Pacers fans complained that they were trading a starting-caliber point guard, one who led the team in PER during the playoffs, for a backup big man, but even that misses the more flabbergasting point.
Indiana was several million dollars under the cap. Mahinmi was an unrestricted free agent. There was no reason to deal anything to Dallas since Indiana could have just signed him straightaway.
I have no problem with the Mahinmi part. This was a good value deal for a big guy who has been consistently productive and is fairly young. He'll certainly be an upgrade on Louis Amundson.
So help me out here. Why in the name of all that is holy would Indiana agree to donate two helpful players on low-dollar salaries to the Mavericks? I know the Pacers were worried about paying Collison beyond this season, but that doesn't mean he had negative trade value. Sources confirm there were no draft picks involved. This was just a straight giveaway, with Indiana giving away two useful players for a marginal cap savings.
As for Dallas, it's hard to know how the team got through the call without laughing hysterically. After being snubbed by Deron Williams and Steve Nash and not getting on the radar for Dwight Howard, the Mavs have been working on the difficult task of building a credible team around one-year deals and plunging back into the market next year.
The Pacers made that task a whole lot easier. Jones is exactly the type of active defender against big wings that the Mavs' roster was missing, and he comes with a reasonably-sized expiring deal of $2.9 million. Collison, meanwhile, offers an immediate upgrade on Jason Kidd at the point, and his cap hold for next year is small enough, $6.9 million, that the Mavs can probably play the free-agent market and still keep him in restricted free agency.
Between this highway robbery and the solid one-year, $8 million deal for Chris Kaman, the Mavs appear to have most of their work done. The team has more than $5 million in cap space available (I mistakenly tweeted $4 million Wednesday, but I hadn't removed Mahinmi's cap hold), which may be enough to win an amnesty auction for another solid player on a one-year deal, Elton Brand. If not, other frontcourt options are out there.
Once that's done, Dallas can use the under-cap midlevel exception worth $2.575 million to fill out the backcourt by either re-signing Delonte West or bringing in another player. That wouldn't leave the Mavs with a championship-caliber team, but they'd be pretty good and have a lot of options going forward.
Some other thoughts on a busy day:
• The rest of the league can breathe a little easier now that Brooklyn's pursuit of Howard has been called off. The Nets did everything they possibly could and got creative putting together the potential deal, an incredibly complicated one that involved six sign-and-trades, Sundiata Gaines getting the full midlevel exception and Kris Humphries being paid $9 million in 2012-13. (All this is thanks to base-year compensation rules involving sign-and-trades; let's not get started or we'll be here all day).
The irony is that Howard wanted Brooklyn and Brooklyn wanted Howard, yet neither side could make it happen. For that, blame two events. First, Howard's decision to sign the opt-in in March when it appeared he was about to be traded to the Nets. Second, the Nets' bizarre trade of the No. 6 pick in the draft for Gerald Wallace. While this was part of the team's strategy to appease Williams at all costs, it almost certainly cost them the key trade piece in a Howard deal. If not for that trade, the Nets likely could have had a Howard deal lined up on draft day to be executed July 11.
As for Howard, just about all of his leverage has vanished. He gave Orlando a one-team list of destinations, and now it's virtually impossible for him to get there, at least until midseason when Brook Lopez is trade eligible again and the bizarre base-year compensation rules governing this deal go away. Additionally, there is no credible threat of Howard bolting to Brooklyn as a free agent.
The next step is Howard's. He can give a wink and a nod to one of the other contenders for his services -- Houston, Atlanta, Los Angeles or Dallas -- and set the wheels in motion for a trade, or he can (gasp!) tell Orlando he is staying. It appears unlikely he'll be able to wait until January for a Brooklyn deal, given the Magic's wishes to end this thing quickly.
And before you think it, sorry -- nobody is trading for Howard just to flip him to New Jersey in February.
• Minnesota and Portland continue to engage in a fascinating game of chicken regarding Nicolas Batum, highlighted by the fact that the Timberwolves are promising money to free agents that they don't necessarily have.
Minnesota allegedly has a four-year, $45 million deal in place with Batum but hasn't signed an offer sheet yet, apparently trying to goad the Blazers into a sign-and-trade to remove the threat of Portland matching. So far, the Blazers haven't budged.
A secondary highlight is all the money Minnesota has promised to other free agents. The Timberwolves, can generate a maximum of $12.3 million in cap room. To do so, they have to cut the partially guaranteed contracts of Brad Miller and Martell Webster and use the amnesty tag on Darko Milicic.
The problem is that they've promised much more than that: a deal for Batum starting at just over $10 million, another $5.2 million for Brandon Roy and whatever they've promised Russian guard Alexey Shved. That's to say nothing of their dalliances with Greg Stiemsma and a couple of other free agents.
All told, the Timberwolves need to cut at least $5 million and likely more; I haven't seen a dollar figure on their agreement with Shved, but we can assume it's for much more than the minimum.
This problem goes away if the Blazers match Batum's offer sheet, but the Timberwolves aren't going into this hoping Portland matches. If not, Minnesota can likely clear $4 million by trading Luke Ridnour and another $2 million by paying somebody to take Wayne Ellington, so it's still workable. But it's all getting very complicated.
• Count me in among those who think the Knicks will match Toronto's ridiculous offer sheet for Landry Fields. New York doesn't care about salary. The Knicks have proven this, and they have just a three-year window with the Anthony-Stoudemire-Chandler group before they'll need to blow it up anyway. Fields' deal fits perfectly on that timeline, as do the arrangements for Kidd and Marcus Camby.
Besides, New York needs somebody to start at the 2 this season while it waits for Iman Shumpert to return from his late-April ACL injury. If the Knicks don't keep Fields, they need to either use Kidd or some minimum contract guy as their starting shooting guard. It will be bloody expensive, but New York has shown time and again that cost isn't going to stop them from getting a player.