An Underrated Hire

Reports came out early Tuesday morning that the Mavericks have hired Andrew Baker for a senior role in their front office.

Baker has a career history in sports, spending time with the Mets as a media relations intern while he was in college at NYU and later being hired as a basketball quality assurance assistant with the San Antonio Spurs, where he crossed paths with future Nets general manager Sean Marks. Marks later hired Baker as somewhat of a “capologist”, a position that is relatively new to the NBA. As former assistant general manager Bobby Marks stated:

“I think hiring (capologists) is relatively new…there are people who are lawyers and use their law background. There are teams that have multiple tasks assigned to each executive. Brooklyn is a little bit different. They have a strategic planning coordinator Andrew Baker and that is his sole focus.”

The cap maneuvering that the Nets accomplished to sign Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan was orchestrated by Andrew Baker. Initially, the Nets could only create $68.8 million in cap space in the summer of 2019. Both Durant and Irving would command max contracts ($38.2 million and $32.7 million, respectively), and many NBA analysts, including Bobby Marks, figured both players would have to take pay cuts of at least $5 million to sign.

Andrew Baker, being the cap savant that he is, instead guaranteed the salaries of both Trevon Graham and Shabazz Napier. He later included these contracts with D’Angelo Russell’s, which resulted in a salary matched sign and trade for Kevin Durant via the Golden State Warriors (NBA cap rules state that if a sign and trade is conducted, you only must match 75% of the salary if the team is under the luxury tax). The extra money was used to cover the salary of DeAndre Jordan, and he and Kyrie Irving were able to then sign outright with the Nets. This cap strategy also allowed the Nets to stay $16 million below the luxury tax threshold for the 2019-2020 season.

Baker’s official role with the Mavericks has yet to be defined, but it’s safe to assume it will be similar to the “Director of Contract Management” position he held with the Nets. Mark Cuban is notorious for hiring smart, analytically driven individuals to the front office, and Baker fits that role. With Kristaps Porzingis on a max deal and Luka Doncic close to signing his super max, the Mavericks can certainly use a cap expert like Baker to help them acquire another star to help the Mavericks advance past the first round since 2011.

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