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Why a Jalen Brunson sign-and-trade would be difficult for the Dallas Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks, Jalen Brunson
Dallas Mavericks, Jalen Brunson / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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The Dallas Mavericks are facing a massive offseason decision on the future of guard Jalen Brunson. He heads into unrestricted free agency on July 1 after the team failed to reach an extension with the 6’1 guard, but his price went up significantly after he averaged over 21 points per game in the playoffs and helped the Mavs reach the Western Conference Finals.

Dallas already has $151 million committed in salaries for next season before re-signing Jalen Brunson with the luxury tax line projected at $149 million. Owner Mark Cuban has not paid the tax since 2011, but he will in 2023 if JB returns. Brunson is an unrestricted free agent and holds all the cards, but Cuban and the Mavs plans on bringing him back.

The CBA rules on sign-and-trades make re-signing Jalen Brunson even more important. Fans often think the Mavericks can trade him if he chooses to play elsewhere, so they get a positive asset in return. That is true, but there is a catch.

Why a Jalen Brunson sign-and-trade would be extremely difficult for the Dallas Mavericks

Brunson is expected to command $20-plus million per season in free agency, which would allow Dallas to acquire another premium role player in return, but sign-and-trades the rules are a bit different. Only 50 percent of JB’s new salary would be allowed to come back to Dallas, but the full $20 million counts going in the other direction. If Brunson signed for $20 million, the Mavs would only be able to acquire a player making $10 million in return, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (subscription required).

The math of a sign-and-trade would be difficult and that CBA rule would limit what the Dallas Mavericks could acquire in return. Do the Mavs want to lose their second-leading scorer for a role player making approximately $10 million? They may be able to acquire multiple pieces, but it would still be difficult to get enough value back in the deal.

Some fans are dreaming of a double sign-and-trade for a player like Zach LaVine, but that would hard cap the Mavericks at $149 million in salary. Dallas would have to shed a significant amount of payroll to get under that line, which could be problematic as head coach Jason Kidd only had six trusted rotation players in the playoffs. The Mavericks need more depth not less if they want to contend for a title next season.

The Dallas Mavericks want to bring back Jalen Brunson, but if he decides to play elsewhere, working out a sign-and-trade will be difficult. Where does JB end up? It is the Mavs' biggest storyline of the offseason as teams will be lining up to acquire the ever-improving 6’1 guard on the open market. Stay tuned to The Smoking Cuban for all the latest.

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