The Mavericks’ weakness has been exposed in the Western Conference finals versus the Warriors.
Owned by “Shark Tank” star Mark Cuban, the Mavericks, who trailed 3-0 entering Game 4 on Tuesday night in Dallas, need a big shark — a 7-foot, rim-protecting, shot-blocking center — to patrol the paint .
Dallas doesn’t have cap space this summer, just a $6.4 million taxpayer midlevel exception. Hence, there’s speculation Cuban and Knicks owner James Dolan could dance during free agency, put together a sign-and-trade package with the Mavercks’ Jalen Brunson and the Knicks’ 7-foot Mitchell Robinson as central characters.
According to former Nets capologist and ESPN financial guru Bobby Marks, however, such as deal is a virtual mathematical impossibility.
Because both Robinson and Brunson were second-round picks in 2018 who signed minimum contracts, they will be considered base-year compensation players. An equal trade of salary money can’t be done, even if the players’ new actual wages match exactly.
The mathematics can’t work because their new salaries would count differently in a sign-and-trade scenario. For instance, Brunson’s projected $20 million salary would count as $10 million coming to the Knicks.
At the NBA Draft Combine, Marks said it was “close to impossible” to make it work.
“I have never seen two base-year players traded for each other on a sign-and-trade,” Marks said. “It’s like putting together a Rubik’s cube. One side might work, but not the other.”
Another issue is the Mavericks are so close to the hard cap even without Brunson. According to collective bargaining agreement rules, Dallas can’t go over the $157 million hard cap in a sign-and-trade and is already at $153 million without Brunson. The Mavericks would have to trade other players first.
Marks said the best-case scenario would be to have other players substituted for Robinson in a sign-and trade with Dallas. Marks said a package of Cam Reddish and Kemba Walker plus giving the Mavericks back their 2023 first-round pick could work. But Marks doubts Dallas wants to take back players and a third team might be required to take the Knicks’ players.
Meanwhile, Robinson’s free-agent market value may have intensified because of the lottery results. The Pistons fell from a top 3 perch to No. 5. That puts Detroit out of range for coveted 7-foot center Chet Holmgren.
An NBA source told The Post recently the Pistons would pursue Robinson if they don’t land Holmgren in the draft.
Before Robinson hits free agency on July 1, the Knicks can still sign an extension with him at a max amount of four years, $55 million — or $13.7 million per year. Robinson is a unique old-school center, so beauty is in the eye of the beholder when it comes to its worth in the center-diminished NBA.
“I think there’s little chance he goes backunless the market is not what he thinks it is or if the Knicks overpay,” one NBA executive said.
Though Knicks president Leon Rose didn’t draft Robinson (he’s the pride and joy of general manager Scott Perry), he would not rule out an agreement when he spoke on April 10 to MSG Network.
“With Mitchell there has been ongoing discussions throughout the year with his agent and those discussions will continue, will continue for the remainder of the time till free agency,” Rose said.
Robinson stayed healthy this past season after being injury-plagued his first three seasons. But one thing to bear in mind is that when the Knicks were at their winning peak in the 2020-21 season, Nerlens Noel was starting center while Robinson rehabbed a broken foot.
“Everything is taken into account,” Rose said. ”You have to look at that. You have to look at the injury history. You have to look at all those things in making your decision, but for the most part, I thought he did a really good job this year.”
Robinson has given passive-aggressive signals of not being happy and The Post reported in February that if he reaches free agency, he likely will be gone† Robinson’s social media messages have veered toward complaints about his offensive role. In his time with the Knicks, Robinson has been just a put-back and lob guy.
His uncle tweeted last spring, “Knicks don’t believe in passing the ball to their bigs. Lowkey like the knicks but can’t wait for my nephew to get out of there.”
Robinson posted a since-deleted message on social media:
“Everyone knows when everybody gets involved and the ball moving and everyone touching the ball, the energy and effort goes to another level. (L)et me (ask) you this, and be 100% with your answer; how would you feel just running up and down the court for 48 or even for 20 minutes?”