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The Dallas Mavericks found some much-needed wiggle room under the tax apron. The Detroit Pistons got paid to eat another contract.

Here are the particulars:

Dallas Mavericks acquire: Quentin Grimes

Detroit Pistons acquire: Tim Hardaway Jr., three future second-round picks

Let’s dive in!

(Note: We are analyzing this deal as it has been reported. If the trade is adjusted to include additional players or teams, we’ll adjust the analysis.)

Dallas Mavericks

Incoming salary: $4.3 million in 2024-25

  • Quentin Grimes (SG, one year, $4.3 million)

Outgoing salary: $16.2 million in 2024-25

  • Tim Hardaway Jr. (SG, one year, $16.2 million)

This isn’t a straight salary-dump for the Mavericks. Instead, it’s a like a salary-dump-plus.

The primary goal for Dallas in this deal was to knock some money off their cap sheet. Mission accomplished.

The Mavs cleared almost $12 million off the books in this swap. That gives them more than enough clearance under the first apron to use the full Non-Taxpayer MLE now. Using at least $5.2 million of the $12.9 million Non-Taxpayer MLE, or giving out a contract with the MLE for more than two seasons, would hard-cap the Mavericks at the first apron. That’s no longer a real concern.

Dallas can now re-sign Derrick Jones Jr., which was one of their stated goals for this offseason. Giving Jones all of the Non-Taxpayer MLE might be an overpay, but the Mavs want to retain their starting small forward.

But wait! There’s more!

In this trade, Dallas also picked up Quentin Grimes. Grimes will be behind a few other Mavericks to open the season, but he’s a worthy flyer. In his first two seasons, Grimes looked like a developing 3&D shooting guard. Last season was a mess, due to injuries and changes in his role, plus a midseason trade. But Grimes showed he can play previously. That’s worth taking a shot on him in trade.

Trading three second-round picks isn’t really all that big of a worry for Dallas. They seem to be fairly cap-conscious, so they should be able to avoid apron issues for a while longer. And the Mavs can acquire second-round selections down the line, should they need some additional draft capital.

Dallas needed to create clearance under the apron. They did that and got a worthy flyer in the process. That’s a win-win trade.

Detroit Pistons

Incoming salary: $16.2 million in 2024-25

  • Tim Hardaway Jr. (SG, one year, $16.2 million)

Outgoing salary: $4.3 million in 2024-25

  • Quentin Grimes (SG, one year, $4.3 million)

New Pistons front office executive Trajan Langdon said he was open to using his team’s cap space to eat contracts in exchange for assets. Detroit did that with Langdon’s first big trade.

The Pistons still have more than $51 million in cap space, even after taking on Tim Hardaway Jr. and Wendell Moore Jr. in separate trades this offseason. That’s more than enough cap room to do whatever else Langdon has planned for this summer.

Detroit owner Tom Gores said he wanted to see the team acquire contracts, but for players who can also help. Hardaway can do that. Things went sideways for him in Dallas over the last season-plus, but Hardaway can still shoot. The Pistons are light on shooting, so he could help them quite a bit.

Three second-round picks might cause some to shrug, but Detroit ate “only” $16.2 million in salary in this deal. That’s not enough to get them a first-round pick. However, given how quickly second-round draft picks are moved around the NBA now, it’s good to have the extra currency for use in future trades.

Quentin Grimes didn’t really have a future in Detroit. The Pistons weren’t going to extend him on anything that wasn’t team-friendly. If you aren’t going to extend a rookie scale guy, you might as well trade him and let the next team figure it out.

This move isn’t going to put the Pistons in the playoffs, but it’s a smart use of cap space. Mostly, this is a good start for Trajan Langdon in what will be a very busy summer in Detroit.