The Dallas Mavericks and Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night moved to the brink of completing a sign-and-trade deal after successfully recruiting the Memphis Grizzlies to help complete a three-team transaction that will send Marion to Dallas, according to NBA front-office sources.
Sources told ESPN.com that the trade will also send Jerry Stackhouse to the Grizzlies, with one source close to the process saying that a trade call with the league office to formalize the deal has been planned for Thursday, indicating that all sides have agreed in principle.
After strong signals the deal would expand to include a fourth team — with sources telling ESPN.com that the Mavericks called several teams Wednesday trying to recruit an additional trade partner — sources have confirmed that the deal will only involve three teams.
“The deal changed,” a source said.
The known parameters of the deal call for Marion to receive a five-year contract in the region of $40 million from the Mavericks and land Stackhouse in Memphis, where he will be bought out by the Grizzlies — with cash furnished by Dallas — for $2 million by Aug. 10. Toronto will receive unspecified draft considerations and/or cash.
Sources said Dallas was close to pulling in a fourth team to join in after the Mavericks and Raptors successfully recruited Memphis to participate and take on Stackhouse’s contract, thereby ensuring that Toronto could help Marion find a new home without endangering the cap space needed to sign Hedo Turkoglu away from Orlando later this week.
Although Raptors president Bryan Colangelo drafted Marion in Phoenix in 1999 and wants to help the former All-Star if he can, sources say Toronto is only interested in taking back draft considerations and/or cash to avoid getting in the way of its Turkoglu signing. In the midst of negotiations with Marion on a four-year contract believed to be worth $36 million late last week, Toronto managed to change Turkoglu’s mind at the 11th hour and convince its No. 1 free-agent target to come to Canada for a five-year deal in excess of $50 million instead of signing with the Portland Trail Blazers.
The main thrust of the deal is Dallas landing Marion at what would be considered a favorable price and Marion getting a contract that starts slightly higher than the mid-level exception.
Dallas is hoping that the combination of Marion and Orlando restricted free agent Marcin Gortat — along with the re-signing of Jason Kidd — would greatly improve the depth and flexibility possessed by a team that won 50 games last season and advanced to the second round of the playoffs before losing to Denver.
Mavs owner Mark Cuban has said for months that he was prepared to be as aggressive as possible this summer as opposed to waiting for the free-agent bonanza of 2010, when Dallas was initially expected to have substantial cap space. Orlando retains the right to match any offer sheet to Gortat but the Magic are widely expected not to match.
Sources say that the Mavericks, meanwhile, are determined to keep Josh Howard even if a trade for Marion can be worked out, with Howard entering the final year of his contract. One potential drawback for Dallas is the fact that Marion would be yet another key member of their core over the age of 30, joining Nowitzki (31), Kidd (36), Jason Terry (31) and Howard (who turns 30 next April).
Marion earned $17.8 million last season and was traded for the second straight February when Miami sent him to Toronto in a swap for Jermaine O’Neal. He went from Phoenix to Miami one year earlier in the Shaquille O’Neal trade.
The Raptors were intent on re-signing Marion if they couldn’t win the Turkoglu sweepstakes, seeing late-season signs of promise in Marion’s collaboration alongside Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani. Sources say that the Cleveland Cavaliers, despite their recent pursuits of Trevor Ariza and Ron Artest and a well-chronicled need for a combo forward, are not making a hard push for Marion.
Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com.