Dallas Mavericks Should Explore Trading for Ryan Anderson

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Mark Cuban (L) attends a basketball game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Dallas Maverics at Staples Center on November 1, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Mark Cuban (L) attends a basketball game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Dallas Maverics at Staples Center on November 1, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images) /

It may sound crazy, but the Mavericks should look to acquire Ryan Anderson from the Houston Rockets with the hopes of being tipped generously for their troubles.

The Mavericks should not be looking to dip their toes into the free agency waters this summer. Names like DeMarcus Cousins, Julius Randle, and Paul George are tempting, but the Mavs should wait until future years to doll out millions of dollars to veteran free agents who will only get the Mavs to the threshold of the playoffs.

Instead, the Mavs should be looking to improve their draft capital and begin pursuing other ways to get their rebuild going. In the modern NBA, players on expiring contracts become available the minute their second-to-last season ends on their aforementioned deals. The Mavs, in no position to contend for a championship, should facilitate a salary dump with the finals-chasing Houston Rockets, and be tipped for their services.

Ryan Anderson is the player the Mavs should shine their lights on. Anderson has fallen out of favor in Houston and was left out of the rotation almost completely until he saw just a couple of miserable minutes in game seven against the Warriors. Anderson is on an (gulp) $80 million contract that averages an even $20 million per year.

When the league year ends, Anderson will have two years remaining on his bloated contract. The Rockets will undoubtedly be looking for ways to increase their cap space in order to pursue another high priced free agent with the hopes of clearing the hurdle they just barreled into. In doing so, they will surely be happy to unload Anderson’s deal knowing that the team’s performance on the court wouldn’t suffer at all.

Anderson’s contract, however, features a rarity in deals of his nature. The Rockets are on the hook for another $20 million next season, and the final $21 million the year after that. But, Anderson only carries a dead money charge to his name for next year, and not the year after. This means that if the Mavericks took on Anderson to their payroll, they would have to eat the deal for one year, but could waive him at the end of next season and get his $21 million entirely off the books without a penny in dead money.

In the meantime, the Mavs would demand a tip from the Rockets for facilitating their salary dump, and could acquire a first round pick for doing so. The Mavs wouldn’t even be “trading” anything, as they could easily make the deal work with cash considerations or a second round pick as many as seven years into the future. Houston would not be looking for anything of substance in return from the Mavs, as they are the ones receiving the salary relief in the deal.

The Rockets shopped Anderson last summer and attached even greater draft compensation in their offers to teams

The pick would have to come in 2020, considering the Rockets traded their first round pick in this year’s draft to the Clippers as part of the Chris Paul trade. The CBA prevents teams from trading their first round pick in back-to-back years.

The Mavs adding a young prospect with the fifth pick in the draft should be enough to get on a desirable track. The team should keep tabs on Demarcus Cousins, considering he is the only realistically available player in this year’s free agency class that resembles a “can’t miss” type of player. But, using their cap space on Ryan Anderson while adding a future trade chip would be just as helpful.

Anderson’s lack of dead money again means that the Mavs will not have to use a penny of cap room on him in 2019, so the flexibility to pursue players of their liking in that free agent class will remain unaffected. One issue in planning for future free agent classes is the process of making your team as attractive as possible for the players in question.

But the Mavs should hope that the combination of Dennis Smith Jr. and whoever ends up being the fifth pick in this year’s draft along with other smaller assets makes them enough of a desirable destination for a free agent looking for a new home, much as the Philadelphia 76ers and Golden State Warriors have done.

The extra first round pick is also a valuable chip in pursuing trades for certain players. The NBA doesn’t prevent teams from trading two first round picks in the same draft, which could be extremely enticing for a team that might be willing to part with a star talent.

Next: Dallas Mavericks: Be Ready for an Entertaining NBA Draft

The Mavs have themselves an opportunity before them that doesn’t sound exciting, but actually could help move the needle rather than dolling out bazillions to big names this year. The Mavs simply must continue to invest in their draft capital and stop hoping that free agents with better opportunities to win immediately elsewhere will come to them.