The Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Art Garcia on the Mavericks’ plans to eliminate one of the most important players in franchise history.

Barring the unexpected, Michael Finley’s career with the Mavericks is effectively over. The financial implications of waiving the longest-tenured member of the team far outweigh keeping Finley, making his release “academic,” according to a team source.

Finley (above) is eligible to be waived under a one-time-only exception in the new collective-bargaining agreement recently agreed upon by the NBA and the players’ association. Teams above the luxury tax threshold, such as the Mavs, are permitted to release one player this summer and avoid the luxury-tax penalty from that player’s contract.

“Whatever decisions [we make] will be made in the best interest of the franchise,” Mavs coach Avery Johnson said Sunday. “That’s pretty much what we promised our players and our fans. The part of the business of losing anyone on our team isn’t a good feeling, especially Finley.”

A player released would still receive his full salary for the length of the contract and count against the salary cap, but that salary would not be used to calculate the luxury-tax penalty. In Finley’s case, he’s on the books for $51.8 million over the next three years.

Assuming the Mavs remain above the luxury-tax threshold — a safe assumption — Finley’s deal would cost the Mavs up to $103.6 million. Waiving Finley would save Mavs owner Mark Cuban up to $51.8 million in luxury-tax payments.

But that’s only part of the savings for the next three years, because Finley’s contract is substantially deferred. The Mavs would pay Finley approximately $5 million of next season’s $15.9 million salary, with the remainder spread out over a number of years. It’s a similar situation for the last two years of his deal, meaning the overall bottom-line savings for the next three seasons could fall in the $80 million range, a figure even the billionaire owner can’t ignore.