The Anatomy of a Rondo to Dallas Trade

With what seemingly is the umpteenth time we have undergone the Rondo trade speculation exercise, it is once again an opportunity to explore the general construct of potential Rondo trades prior to the February 19th trade deadline. While there are other potential suitors for Rondo’s services such as Houston and Sacramento, both have trade limitations (Houston with lack of available draft picks beyond their 2015 pick from New Orleans due to Stepien Rule tie-ups and Sacramento with Rondo’s publicly noting his lack of desire to re-sign there), rendering Dallas potentially the most viable trade candidate if the Celtics are intent on shipping Rondo out of the Conference. I originally pegged Dallas as the most likely Rondo destination this summer if he left Boston as a free agent, but due to how the market has shaped up and Boston’s “sudden” desire to trade Rondo, Dallas is in position to capitalize. The following will explore the components of a potential Rondo to Dallas trade.

Trade Parameters/Pieces

With Rondo’s $12,909,091 incoming salary, the Mavericks would need to send out at least $8,539,394 to satisfy league trade rules in permitting a team to acquire salary of 150% of outgoing salary + $100,000.

Any trade not involving Parsons, Ellis, Dirk, or Chandler necessitates the inclusion of the following pieces to make a trade between Dallas and Boston legal:

1.Wright’s $5,000,000 salary.

Wright is reportedly the piece the Celtics are interested in, and his salary inclusion is paramount, as he is the only other $5M+ salary on the roster outside the core 4 players.

2.Either Devin Harris’ $3,878.896 contract, Raymond Felton’s $3,793,693 contract, or Jameer Nelson’s $2,732,000 contract.

Nelson’s contract would require an additional piece still on Dallas’ end to make the trade legal since the aggregate salaries of Wright and Nelson would fall $807,394 short of the legality benchmark.

Ancillary Pieces

Jae Crowder or Ricky Ledo.

The Mavericks could also include an assortment of young players such as Crowder or Ledo, both minimum salary players, and thus either could be traded into Boston’s minimum salary exceptions.

Roster Size Component

The Mavericks have 14 player salaries currently on their roster, with 1 of those non-guaranteed (Eric Griffen at $150,000), affording Dallas increased trade flexibility.

On the contrary, Boston has a full 15 player roster with all guaranteed deals, thus to take back the minimum assortment of player contracts from Dallas (2) that would make a trade legal, Boston would have to either trade or waive one of their players to clear a 15th roster spot.

Now that the pieces and trade rules are set in place, the following is likely how any potential Rondo trade will be structured if the trade remains a two team trade and does not incorporate a third team (which is a strong possibility).

How a Deal Could Be Structured

Premises:

1.Raymond Felton is the most likely second contract to be included in a trade.

Rationale: Felton has yet to play a minute for the Mavericks this season, and would thus likely be the most expendable piece between the three point guards. For Boston, since all three players are veteran point guards who do not fit Boston’s rebuilding process, the emphasis will likely be on acquiring the shortest contract. Felton and Nelson both have player options next year for $3,950,313 and 2,854,940 respectively that neither would conceivably exercise if faced with a small role on a lottery bound team. Harris on the other hand has three years remaining after this season on his contract, with the last being partially guaranteed. It is thus likely that Boston favors either Nelson’s or Felton’s potential expiring contracts, and given Dallas’ likelihood to push for Felton’s inclusion, Felton is the greater bet to be part of a trade.

With that premise in mind, the trade could entail the following pieces and be organized as follows from Boston’s vantage point:

Outgoing:

1.Rondo ($12,909,091)

2.Dwight Powell ($507,336) into Dallas’ minimum salary exception

*To clear a 15th roster spot in this scenario, Boston would need to waive a player, and considering roster need, it would likely be Vitor Faverani, who has not played this year and who has $2,090,000 guaranteed this year but no guaranteed salary next year.

Incoming:

1.Wright ($5,000,000) into the $5,285,816 Keith Bogans Trade Exception.

2.Felton ($3,793,693) into the  $3,800,000 Joel Anthony Trade Exception.

3.Jae Crowder ($915,243) into Boston’s minimum salary exception.

4.Dallas’ Top 5 Protected 2015 First Round Pick.

5.Dallas’ Second Round Picks in 2015 and 2016.

Ramifications

Structuring the trade like this would enable Boston to receive a $12,909,091 trade exception for Rondo where they could receive a player in a trade for a one year period with a maximum salary of $13,009,091. The trade is still legal because it satisfies the overall receiving 150% +$100,000 of outgoing salaries from Dallas’ end, but can be structured to best suit each party.

Overall

This trade affords the Celtics a young efficient offensive pick and roll dive big man in Wright, a tremendous roster need, as well as an assortment of picks.  It is likely however that Boston will attempt to flip Wright again prior to the February 19th trade deadline, and can aggregate Wright’s salary with others if dealt prior to noon tomorrow, which explains trade talks heating up now.   Dallas owns all their first round picks, so they could potentially include a second first rounder 2 years after their first 1st rounder is conveyed (sometime within 7 years). The question is if they will have to. Crowder is also a quality young wing who has shown flashes, especially in terms of a floor-spacer, for the Mavericks. While Felton is really the casualty of the trade, his salary is necessary for its completion.

There are certainly flaws in this construct, most notably the fact Dallas would be void of a backup big man with Wright’s departure. However, with the inclusion of Powell, a frontcourt player Boston coveted from Cleveland, and the possibly of potentially signing a player like Emeka Okafor in free agency, the opportunity to acquire a talent like Rondo is likely worth the risk of sacrificing depth. From Boston’s vantage point, this might not seem like enough for Rondo, but the reality is Rondo could walk for free this summer as a UFA. There are certainly risks involved in this trade for Boston as well, most notably the fact that Wright will be a UFA this offseason as well and could walk for free (if he is not flipped at the deadline). But at least the trade guarantees some return. Rondo is probably worth more than this return, which is why I have been an advocate of Boston retaining him (they will likely never receive fair value for Rondo, certainly not in the final year of his contract before he becomes a UFA), but if Boston is intent on trading him or thinks he might walk this summer, the Dallas trade avenue has merit.

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