Dwight Powell declined his $10M Player Option and it gives MFFLs some insight into the team’s approach to this offseason.
As originally reported by Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Dwight Powell has declined his $10.2M player option and is set to become a free agent on June 30th. This might come as a surprise to some, but it seems more like a calculated plan formulated by Dwight and the Mavs front office to benefit both the team and Dwight simultaneously. There are some interesting mechanics at play, but it should illustrate the team’s thinking before free agency begins.
First of all, it should be noted that this HAS NOT been confirmed by any press release from Dwight, his representatives OR the Dallas Mavericks, so this may not be the full truth at this moment. For the purposes of this argument, let’s take Chris Haynes and his league sources at face value. However, only a few hours later, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News chimed in on Twitter saying both that this was part of the plan from the front office but then immediately clouded the waters with this tweet:
NBA source texts that Powell report is “b.s.,” but unclear whether the “b.s.” part is about Powell opting out or exploring the free agent market. Mavs have not wavered in their confidence in keeping Powell.
— Brad Townsend (@townbrad) May 20, 2019
So what do we glean from this? One thing is for certain happening: money is being moved around for the benefit of all parties. How are we so sure of this? Well in April, Mark Cuban went on the air with Ben & Skin on 105.3 The Fan and said that the team views Powell (who is now one of the most senior Mavericks with the team, WHAT?!?) as a core piece moving forward and will “extend Dwight Powell and keep him around for another 3 years.” Cuban, usually playing his cards close to his vest, only makes statements like this with done deals. So what changed in a month? Probably nothing but clever accounting.
By turning down his option, Powell is leaving a guaranteed $10.2M on the table. The only 2 reasons a player does this is either a) he badly wants out of Dallas (which he doesn’t) or b) he wants more job security (which he does). Having said that, his boss already said they want to extend him for 3 years, so why the fuss? Short answer being that this is a way to “extend” Powell with more years on a team friendly deal that either pays him a little less over the long haul than a max extension (roughly 3 years for $40M) OR structure it in a way that helps the team in their offseason goals this summer. Powell will end up getting paid upwards of $30M with this next deal, the question is how the Mavs structure it.
If Brad’s tweets about it being the plan are to be given as much credit as Hayne’s, then it’s to be believed that the front office has worked out the math that this is good for everyone. So why is that? Well, first of all, the salary cap hold for Dwight was $14.5M to retain his bird rights, allowing him to sign over the cap. Well if the Mavs don’t need to wait to sign him, they don’t need the bird rights, so signing him to a new contract resets that cap number. In other words, if they sign him to a 3 yr $33M deal, structured $9M for this year, $11M next year and $13M the final year, his cap hit goes from $14.5M to $9M. This would clear basically $5M in the cap to go chase free agents come June 30th. This would pay Powell more per year, give him job security and open up some cash for the team to play with.
Powell was a kindred spirit to Dirk since he arrived with the team, but now he’s carrying the mantle of the team-oriented locker room guy and this deal might be showing the team how seriously he takes that mantle.
What About the Other Guys?
While the numbers discussed here are hypothetical, the theory will most likely apply to other guys on the roster that the team has to make decisions on. Maxi Kleber and Dorian Finney-Smith are both restricted and are probably seeking the biggest contracts they’ll get as players. However, if Powell, who is #1 in the NBA in half court efficiency and led the Mavs in Win Shares generated for the team (7.5), is taking a smaller deal to stay with the team, it can really spell out what the Mavs may or may not be willing to do for them. And if the Mavs lose either of them to free agency, they have additional money from Powell’s concession to go chasing others for the right price.
Powell is clearly a figurehead for this team at this point and will set a trend with what he does right now. He’s clearly buying into the bright future presented by Luka and KP and I think Maxi and Do-Do would probably be wise to consider doing something similar.
At the end of the day, it’s a business on both sides and all of this speculation could be wrong. The offseason is a crazy monster and we shouldn’t have it any other way.
Featured Image: Kathy Willens/Associated Press