How LeBron-to-Dallas Could Happen:


I stumbled upon lebrontothemavs.com a while back and I must say, LeBron looks great in a Mavs Jersey. Dallas may be a dark, dark, I mean really dark-horse in the LeBron sweepstakes but that doesn’t mean it is impossible. They don’t have room for another max contract, Cleveland has said they do not want to conduct any sign & trade and Dallas might not even be best option for the King to win multiple championships… but in some realms of thought, LeBron coming to Dallas makes sense.

Here is an article by ESPN.com’s Marc Stein that details the possibility of a Lebron empire in being built in Texas.

Just after midnight Eastern Time (11:01 p.m. Central Time) on Wednesday, the free-agent frenzy will begin officially, and starting Thursday, six teams reportedly will make their pitches to persuade LeBron James to sign with them.

So far, the Dallas Mavericks are not said to be on that list, in part because they don’t have any cap space and would have to try to work out a sign-and-trade with LeBron and the Cleveland Cavaliers. But in any case, as ESPN NBA writer Marc Stein has reported, LeBron has respect for the Mavs and their owner, Mark Cuban. Therefore, the team might get a hearing.

In recent weeks, I’ve detailed how the New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, New Jersey Nets, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Clippers will make their respective pitches to LeBron when July 1 arrives.

Now it’s the Mavericks’ turn, and the Mavs are unlike every other team we’ve profiled. They have not spent months or years getting rid of players for the chance at LeBron. They’ve been doing the exact opposite, actually. The Mavs spent the trade deadline improving their team, taking on money and trying to win a championship. The team fell short again this season, but because of its strong roster, Dallas does find itself uniquely prepared to make a pitch to LeBron.

Although the Mavs don’t have cap space, that doesn’t mean they haven’t planned and strategized to get LeBron. In November, Marc Stein examined the possibility that the Mavs could get into the LeBron chase.

Now that free agency is upon us, let’s look at the Mavericks’ case in more detail, thanks to a well-placed source familiar with the team’s thinking. Whether or not Cuban and the Mavs get to make their case, this is what they can tell LeBron:




1. “We have what it takes to make a sign-and-trade work.”

Let’s get the first question out of the way right now. How can the Mavs, who have one of the highest payrolls in the league, get LeBron?

Although it’s true they don’t have the cap space to sign LeBron straight out, the Mavs believe they have the assets to persuade the Cavs to agree to a sign-and-trade.

Why would LeBron be interested in a sign-and-trade when he could go directly to a team with cap room? In a sign-and-trade, he could sign a six-year contract with 10.5 percent yearly raises on his deal. If he signs directly with another team, he could get only a five-year deal with 8 percent yearly raises. The difference would be nearly $30 million throughout the life of the contract.

But would the Cavs agree to participate in a sign-and-trade? Two things would have to happen to make that so.

First, LeBron would have to go to Cavs owner Daniel Gilbert and tell him that the team has no chance of re-signing him. Then he would tell the Cavs that either he will leave for a team like the Bulls or he’s willing to work out a sign-and-trade — with Dallas or another team — so that the Cavs get something in return. ESPN colleague Ric Bucher has reported what many have believed all along: that the Cavs do not want to participate in a sign-and-trade. While naturally one would expect them to make that clear at this point, as they want to bring LeBron back to Cleveland, what’s not clear is what the Cavs would do if LeBron gave them an ultimatum: Lose me for nothing, or get assets in a sign-and-trade.

Second, even if the Cavs would listen, the Mavs would have to make an offer worth listening to.

So how would they do that?

Any deal would start with Caron Butler, a former All-Star small forward who is going into the last year of his deal. Butler is coming off a shaky season in which he was traded from Washington to Dallas. After scoring 20 points per game for two consecutive seasons, Butler averaged just 16.3 ppg last season. Still, although he’s far from a LeBron-like talent, he’s a good small forward and would fill a hole for the Cavs.

Butler probably would not be enough to persuade the Cavs to say yes. In that case, according to my source, the Mavs would offer to eat one or two of the Cavs’ bad contracts by sending Erick Dampier (whose contract isn’t guaranteed next year) for players like Anderson Varejao and Daniel Gibson. Doing a deal like that would immediately remove $11-13 million from the Cavs’ payroll, putting the Cavs about $13 million under the cap this summer, enough for them to make a play at a free agent.

Would $13 million in cap room, getting out of an unwanted contract or two and landing Caron Butler make up for a loss of LeBron? No. Not close. But would it be better than losing LeBron for nothing? Possibly.

What could seal the deal? Perhaps Rodrigue Beaubois. Losing the dynamic, second-year guard would be a very painful pill for the Mavs to swallow and could even be a deal-breaker for Dallas. But in limited minutes last season, Beaubois looked very tantalizing and is the type of young guard the Cavs could build around. If trade discussions take place, you can expect that the Cavs will want him and the Mavs will be adamant that he stays in Dallas. If LeBron does want to move there, who would blink?




2. “We give you the best chance to win now.”

What kind of team would LeBron be joining? A veteran team with a former MVP, a former MVP runner-up and plenty of experience.

You start with Dirk Nowitzki, one of the best scorers in the NBA. Assuming the Mavs will be able to re-sign him this summer, he immediately would become the best player with whom LeBron has ever played and perhaps his perfect complement.

The Knicks will suggest to LeBron that the way to win — with LeBron controlling the ball — is to spread the floor with players who can shoot. The Mavs agree. But all the Knicks can offer LeBron is Danilo Gallinari, an unproven big man who just finished his second season in the league. Dallas, on the other hand, offers a former MVP who is still playing at the highest level. Nowitzki turned 32 in June but has shown few signs of slowing down as a scorer. In fact, he shot a career-high percentage (42 percent) from 3-point land last season.

At point guard, LeBron would get one of the all-time greats in Jason Kidd. Kidd turned 37 in March but has been remarkably durable and consistent of late. He’s not scoring big, but he remains, along with Steve Nash, the league’s consummate playmaker. The fact that LeBron and Kidd are close certainly should help the Mavs — and in fact, you can expect Kidd to help lead the Mavs’ charge for LeBron starting Thursday.

The Mavs also have other key veterans such as former sixth man of the year Jason Terry and defensive specialist Shawn Marion in their rotation. And if they add Varejao via trade, they’ll have a big man with defensive ability and a great motor to round out the team.

Mavs fans also are excited about Beaubois, an athletic blur who wowed them whenever he got into the game during his rookie season. If the Mavs aren’t forced to trade him as part of a LeBron sign-and-trade, he will be their best young player going forward.

In addition, the Mavs will have their full midlevel exception to play with in an attempt to add another big man. With so many teams trying to cut payroll, they should have a great shot at free agents willing to sign at that level.

Add to the mix a veteran coach like Rick Carlisle, and the Mavs with LeBron would become the odds-on favorite to win an NBA title next season.




3. “We have an owner who will spend.”

“The Mavs have never given up on a season,” our source says, “unlike all the other teams in the hunt.”

Mark Cuban hates to lose. Since buying the team, he’s consistently spent whatever it takes, making big trades and signing free agents to put the Mavs into contention. In 2006, they made it all the way to the NBA Finals before falling to the Miami Heat, and they’ve won 50 or more games for 10 straight seasons. Cuban may be controversial for his outspokenness, but few owners in the league match his business smarts, creativity and passion for their team.

LeBron could rest easy knowing that as long as Cuban owns the Mavs, he will do whatever it takes to be a contender — every year. Although the team is aging, Cuban and GM Donnie Nelson have remained aggressive, showing a remarkable ability to turn expiring contracts into veterans who can play.

Not only that, but Cuban has spent the money to make the Mavs a first-class organization, with many perks for his players, and for that reason he has a great rep around the league.




4. “This is a town that likes everything big.”

The last reason may be less obvious than the first three. Dallas is not New York, Los Angeles or even Chicago in terms of its national profile. But it’s a huge market — the metropolitan area ranks as the fourth-most populous in the country. And LeBron’s fond of the city.

Perhaps just as importantly to LeBron, Texas doesn’t have state income taxes. As noted in the article on the Miami Heat, that should save LeBron roughly $500,000 per year, or $3 million over the life of the contract.

Cuban also can offer LeBron some glitz that neither New York nor L.A. can offer — the chance to play a handful of games each year at the spectacular new Cowboys Stadium, where the NBA just played the All-Star Game and set attendance records. LeBron is a huge Cowboys fan and likely would relish the idea of playing in front of, say, 60,000 fans when the Lakers come to town.

Put these four points together, and the Mavs’ wooing of LeBron doesn’t sound that far-fetched. In fact, it could be the preferred route for both LeBron and the Cavs if LeBron decides to leave. More money. A better team. An owner who has deep pockets. The chance to make history in Dallas. Would he say no to that?

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