Trade Wars

Mavs’ $10.9 million trade exception from Josh Richardson’s deal expires before free agency

The Mavericks’ first deadline of the impending free agency frenzy passed with little notice.

Dallas held a $10.9 million trade exception to the Josh Richardson deal they struck with the Boston Celtics last summer, but it expired Monday without use.

Had the Mavericks identified a trade target in time, they could have built a package that would allow them to inherit a player’s salary up to $10.9 million without having to match contract math in return.

But a few factors led to the expiration instead.

Few of the high caliber and reliability players who would have represented improvements to the Mavericks rotation are currently on contracts that would have fit the trade exception.

The NBA form of voucher may include one or more players whose incoming salary does not exceed the exception amount. But the league doesn’t allow teams to combine trade exceptions with other salary cap options, and any additions would also have increased the Mavericks’ pending luxury tax, their first since 2011.

It’s not uncommon for teams to miss full trade exceptions, including in 2019-20 when the Mavericks didn’t use more than $11 million of their Harrison Barnes space.

But don’t expect Dallas’ inaction to last long.

The NBA window for free agency negotiations opens at 5 p.m. Thursday, and the Mavericks will likely be at the heart of one of the most notable bidding wars.

General manager Nico Harrison has made it clear that the team’s No. 1 priority is to re-sign Jalen Brunson as an unrestricted free agent. But Brunson’s value skyrocketed during the playoffs, and the New York Knicks — full of family ties and close friends with his family — have taken recent steps to signal their strong interest in luring the 25-year-old starting guard. years away from Dallas with a nine-cost contract.

The Mavericks will also have a Mid-Tier Taxpayer Exception of $6.339 million a year, for up to three years, available with a focus on improving their shooting and defensive depth on the wing.

It’s an exception that the franchise is much less likely to let go.

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