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How the Mavericks could keep their No. 13 pick and avoid the salary-cap hit

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The Dallas Mavericks are reportedly looking to trade the No. 13 pick so they can clear enough cap room to sign Dwight Howard, but if the Mavericks want to avoid the cap hold that comes with the pick, they have another option.

As detailed by ESPN’s Chad Ford, Dallas could draft a player and delay signing him for at least a year. From the Collective Bargaining Agreement:

A Team that holds draft rights to a First Round Pick may elect to have the player’s applicable Rookie Scale Amount excluded from its Team Salary at any time prior to the first day of any Regular Season by providing the NBA with a written statement that the Team will not sign the player during that Salary Cap Year accompanied by a written statement from the First Round Pick renouncing his right to accept any outstanding Required Tender made to him by the Team.

That last part is the big catch. The draft pick would have to agree to decline his guaranteed first-round contract for a year. (It would still last four years with two years guaranteed whenever it begins.) It’s far, far, far more likely an international player who’s already situated on a non-NBA team and might face a buyout – players like Dario Saric, Dennis Schroeder, Rudy Gobert, Sergey Karasev, Giannis Adetokunb and Lucas Nogueira – would be amenable to the arrangement. However, I suppose an American college player who really wants to play for Dallas and/or is projected to go lower than No. 13 might be willing to accept the deal.

The CBA also says, “When a First Round Pick provides a Team with a written statement renouncing his right to accept that year’s outstanding Required Tender, the Player shall no longer be permitted to accept it.” But I’m unsure whether a team can receive that letter before drafting a player. If not and the Mavericks go this route, they must be absolutely certain a player is willing to defer his rookie contract before drafting him.