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Spurs Brazil 07-16-05 11:45 AM

Mavs face difficult decision on Finley

Mavs face difficult decision on Finley

AP Sports Writer

DALLAS (AP) -- As much as the Dallas Mavericks appreciate what Michael Finley has done for their franchise, simple economics make it likely they will soon say goodbye to their longtime leader.

The Mavs would save at least $51 million and perhaps much more by waiving Finley under a provision in the NBA's new labor deal known as the amnesty clause. This one-time escape hatch lets teams avoid the dollar-for-dollar luxury tax obligation on one contract.

The money owed will still count against the salary cap. And the player will still get his guaranteed money - plus more from whatever team signs him next. Players can't rejoin the team that cuts them until after the existing contract expires. In Finley's case, that would mean no sooner than the 2008-09 season.

"We haven't given up on trying to figure out a way to get the savings and keep Mike in a Mavericks uniform," team president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said Friday. "We've come up with creative solutions to problems before, and we're trying to pull a rabbit out of our hat again. But of the multiple scenarios, we're down to the last few. It's looking less and less likely."

Nothing can happen until the collective bargaining agreement is signed, which is expected by the end of next week. The amnesty opportunity expires once the upcoming season begins.

Finley's agent, Henry Thomas, declined to comment Friday. Finley is expected at a news conference Saturday for a charity baseball game in which Nelson and Mavs owner Mark Cuban will be playing. Finley will be managing instead of playing because he's recovering from ankle surgery, event organizers said.

"Mike has helped build this franchise into what it is today," Nelson said. "But all of us who are in professional sports know there's a dollar sign on our heads. That's just the way pro sports works. Still, it doesn't make these conversations any easier."

Finley is the longest-tenured player in Dallas. He was an All-Star before Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki were, then together that trio took the Mavericks from lottery regulars to perennial playoff qualifiers. With Nash leaving as a free agent last summer, Finley's departure would leave only Nowitzki from their "Big Three."

Finley's role in the franchise's rebirth was rewarded in 2001 when he signed a maximum contract of $100-plus million over seven years. He has three years left at annual salaries of roughly $16 million, $17 million and $18 million.

Yet Finley's production no longer merits anything near that.

His scoring average has dropped five years in a row - from a career-best 22.6 points per game in 1999-2000 to 15.7 last season - and his rebounds and assists have diminished plenty over that span, too. New coach Avery Johnson has even talked about bringing Finley off the bench next season.

Part of Finley's dropoff has been because of Nowitzki's emergence. However, at 32, the former dunk contest participant rarely soars anymore, hanging out mostly around the 3-point line for jumpers.

While the ankle surgery should improve his mobility, he's still not the iron man he was in his younger days. After playing the first 490 games of his career, reaching midway through his seventh season, he's missed at least 10 games every season since, including 18 last season.

Nelson said the club also is looking into trading Finley. The team must decide whether they're better off cutting Finley and collecting the luxury tax savings or dealing him and getting something back, albeit likely players who also have bloated contracts. The quality of the players they're offered and details of their contracts may ultimately make the difference.

Either way, Finley has probably worn his No. 4 Mavs jersey for the last time.

"We're continuing to compare notes and look for a win-win opportunity," Nelson said. "But at the end of the day, we've got to decide what is in the best interest of the Dallas Mavericks."

The bright side for Finley is that he would get to pick his next team. Perhaps he could reunite with Nash in Phoenix, where he began his career until being traded to Dallas for Jason Kidd, or maybe return to his hometown of Chicago.

ro_50 07-16-05 12:03 PM

I think they should cut him because they have Josh Howard and Marquis Daniels. Both are younger and have proven they can play in this league.

RichB 07-16-05 12:14 PM

I don't see it as difficult at all.

Cuban can save $51 Million.

Cut him.

He's a smart guy - he should know that this was inevitable.

Still, don't be surprised to see Dallas retire Finley's number 4 someday.

ThomasamohT 07-16-05 12:33 PM


Originally Posted by RichB
I don't see it as difficult at all.

Cuban can save $51 Million.

Cut him.

He's a smart guy - he should know that this was inevitable.

Still, don't be surprised to see Dallas retire Finley's number 4 someday.

But what if he pulls a Steve Nash???


1SOTEX 07-16-05 12:33 PM

It's only difficult in the sense that the team is in essence cutting their star player..I know Dirk is their superstar, but Finley has been with the Mavs for a long time & was their premier player for quite a few of those years...It would be like us waiving Manu just because we were gonna save some money..Other players take notice as to how other teams treat their players when taking into account who & who they dont want to play for..get a bad rep & its gonna be hard to attract those top level FA's(ie. the Clipps & Warriors etc)..It defintily is a tough decision to make, because for one, even though Cuba knows its gonna save you in luxury tax, he also understands that cutting Finley will be helping the enemy..if Finley really gets cut, I think that he will probably sign with Phoenix, but I think the Spurs might have a shot also, just my opinion..is it worth Cuban to save $51 mil while helping other teams get that much closer to a title? I don't know, he has to answer that, & it is a difficult decision to make.

alpineballer 07-16-05 02:50 PM

the question is...if finley is waived, should the spurs go for him?
at 32 he is no longer the player he was, but comming of the bench he should still make some impact. he might sign for the vet. min, money won't be the point if you still get another 17M/year from your old team. i think all contenders will go for him, just to try to avoid that he signs for the rival.
at the current spurs roster he would find more minutes playing SF, but if devin is not resigned, he could also play some SG.
the suns will for sure try to get him, especially if they don't resign JJ.
miami, if they waive jones using the amnesty clause (is miami in lux-tax area ?)
denver would need a player like him most and could offer him the biggest role (as a starter). in denver he would also probably be the best fit.
lakers might start him at SF, now that they have traded butler.(but they are not a contender any more and finley will look for a ring)
detroit needs back-court depth and will also try to sign him.
and he could play for the bulls, not a contender but his hometown team. they need some veteran leadership and will also try to get him.

what will finley do, if he is really waived? and will the spurs try to sign him?

1SOTEX 07-16-05 02:51 PM

No telling what he will do, but he will have a lot of options.

Manuac 07-16-05 02:56 PM

Could Cuban try to make a gentleman's agreement with Finley about playing in the East?

1SOTEX 07-16-05 03:03 PM

Miami would love to have him.

Not-so-Smart 07-16-05 03:16 PM

Difficult decision? Not in the least.
Hard to execute because of what Fin has meant? Absolutely.

DubOverdose 07-16-05 03:57 PM

This amnesty clause rips the heart of me as a Mavs fan. I just wish there was a way around it or another Maverick with a similar contract and declining play.

BackHome 07-16-05 04:19 PM

It is a no brainer...

Grego 07-16-05 04:28 PM

He's still going to get paid that salary so he could go to any team and sign for the min, yet make more than most players in the league still.

drcantgetright 07-16-05 04:29 PM

$50 mil is $50 mil, even to Mark Cuban. Cut him and let him sign with the Spurs.

coyotes_geek 07-16-05 04:44 PM


Originally Posted by alpineballer
the question is...if finley is waived, should the spurs go for him?

Without a doubt. He probably wouldn't come here because Phoenix can give him more playing time, especially if they lose Johnson, but it's still worth RC picking up the phone and making a call.

LAfan019 07-16-05 05:52 PM


Originally Posted by coyotes_geek
Without a doubt. He probably wouldn't come here because Phoenix can give him more playing time, especially if they lose Johnson, but it's still worth RC picking up the phone and making a call.

Yeah, if they lose Johnson they will throw whatever they can at him. However, I don't think he would be a great fit for the Spurs since he probably thinks he's still a prime time player. Manu, Barry & Devin have that position locked up and Devin has a better future. I rather have a cheap Devin than whatever Finley is probably going to want because even if he is cut, doesn't mean he will sign for the min or close to it with some other team. Winning isn't as important for a lot of player than money. Barry isn't one of those, but finley may be.

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