EDITOR’S NOTE: In a stunning twist, Jason Kidd appears set to sign with the Knicks instead of the Mavericks.
The offseason hasn’t gone quite as planned for the Mavericks, with Dwight Howard out of the picture, Deron Williams staying in Brooklyn and a bunch of hoarded cap space remaining unused — for now. And with almost every veteran member of the Mavs’ backcourt entering free agency, Dallas ran the (slight) risk of entering the 2011-12 season relying on mostly inexperienced kids to lift a very thin team into a bottom-tier playoff spot.
Taking all that into account, Dallas did something Thursday that probably doesn’t move the dial in any significant sense, but at least provides some stability and might cheer up Dirk Nowitzki. Per ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, the Mavs are close to an agreement with Jason Kidd on a three-year, $9 million deal. And forgive me for sounding skeptical, but the biggest impact of this move — depending on the particulars, including whether the second and third years are guaranteed — might end up being that the Dallas front office has to jump through an extra loop or two in clearing max-level cap room next summer. They’re still set to have a mid-level amount of space — perhaps $8 million — when league business resumes on July 11, assuming cap holds for Kidd and Jason Terry, headed to Boston, come off the books at the stroke of midnight.
Add up the maximum possible salary Dallas might have on its books for 2013-14, and the Kidd deal could take them all the way to something like $52 million after factoring in various charges: a cap hold for Roddy Beaubois, a $3 million guarantee for Kidd, a $2 million Vince Carter buyout and charges for empty roster spots. That looks bad, since $52 million in salary would leave Dallas with approximately $7 million in cap room as Howard, Andrew Bynum and Chris Paul enter free agency in 2013.
But it could just be a minor inconvenience. Dallas could buy Carter out earlier, and for cheaper. They could renounce the rights to Beaubois and his perpetual potential. They could decline a team option on Dominique Jones, and Kidd’s deal might not be fully guaranteed, which could make him a Chris Duhon/Quentin Richardson-sized trade chip to use in possible midseason trade discussions for Howard, though Duhon’s deal for 2013-14 is also only partially guaranteed. At least for now, the Mavs can still offer Orlando the prospect of some cap relief via the absorption of a Glen Davis/Jason Richardson-sized salary, in addition to Beaubois, other prospects and future picks. That is not a very enticing package, but neither is Brooklyn’s Brook Lopez/Kris Humphries/MarShon Brooks/draft picks deal — one that would appear to come without much cap relief, unless Brooklyn finds a way to involve a third team.