Sources: Mavs may waive Finley
06:50 AM CDT on Friday, June 24, 2005
By EDDIE SEFKO / The Dallas Morning News
Michael Finley's career with the Mavericks could come to an end this summer because of a clause in the new collective-bargaining agreement that could save owner Mark Cuban as much as $51 million.
Two sources said Thursday that Finley, who has been with the Mavericks longer than any other current player, would be targeted if the Mavericks exercise this cost-cutting option.
The new one-time loophole allows a team to waive a player and be relieved of any luxury-tax responsibility attached to that player's contract. Finley is owed $51,796,875 over the next three seasons. Cuban would still have to pay that in salary.
But because the Mavericks' payroll is so high, Cuban also has to pay a dollar for every dollar that they are over the luxury tax. By jettisoning Finley, he could knock $15 million off his luxury tax next season. The Mavericks were well over the $61 million luxury-tax threshold last season. Essentially, the remainder of Finley's $51 million contract could cost Cuban $102 million if they remain over the luxury-tax threshold, which is probable if Finley is retained.
The Mavericks have discussed the issue and are aware of the implications. It represents a chance to take a huge step toward the club being in a better financial situation for future player dealings. If the Mavericks execute this option, they would not be allowed to re-sign Finley for the length of the contract.
Mavericks officials would not comment specifically about the possibility of taking this measure with Finley, who has 8 ˝ years of service with the team and has been called the heart and soul of the franchise for many years.
"Under the new CBA, a player could be released and you would save that money off the tax," president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said. "Every team in the NBA has a player who fits that mode."
Finley could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Finley fits the description as a player with a maximum contract and three more years left on his deal. He is coming off his least-productive season as a Maverick, averaging 15.7 points and 4.1 rebounds and shooting 42.7 percent. However, an ankle injury hindered him much of the season and required surgery after the playoffs.
Numerous NBA teams figure to use this loophole to their financial advantage. The New York Knicks reportedly are pursuing the option of waiving oft-injured Allan Houston, who like Finley has a long-term maximum contract.
The process cannot officially start until the new CBA is signed, which isn't expected to happen until at least July 22.
If the Mavericks were to move on the Finley issue, it would mean they could lose the two players who have been with the club the longest in the span of a few weeks.
Shawn Bradley, who joined the team two months after Finley, has begun discussions with the team about a buyout of his contract that would allow him to retire after 12 seasons in the NBA.
"Shawn has been feeling the cumulative effects of injuries to his knees and hip," Cuban said Thursday. "Retirement is something we are talking about, but he hasn't made a final decision yet."
The Mavericks apparently are trying to arrange a long-term buyout of the 7-6 center's contract, which is worth $14.5 million, including $4.5 million next season. Although that money would still count against the salary cap, some of it could be deferred.
Bradley could not be reached for comment Thursday. However, his mother, Teresa, said via e-mail from Utah that her son's retirement was set at the end of the season.
Bradley apparently wants to devote more time to his family. He and wife Annette recently had their sixth child.
When Avery Johnson took over as coach, Bradley was reduced to 12th-man status. With young centers Pavel Podkolzin and D.J. Mbenga on the roster, the 33-year-old Bradley was unlikely to get much playing time next season or beyond. The No. 2 overall pick in the 1993 draft, he averaged 8.1 points and 6.3 rebounds for his career.