DALLAS -– With a little luck from the basketball gods, the Dallas Mavericks may be able to field a roster that will include the incomparable Dwight Howard.
According to SI.com sources, the Orlando Magic’s six-time All-Star center told the Magic’s top brass on Wednesday that if they traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers or Brooklyn Nets, he would re-sign with one of those teams at the end of the 2012-’13 season.
In a two-hour meeting with Magic officials in Los Angeles, Howard also reportedly said if Orlando trades him to another team other than the Lakers or Nets – or doesn’t trade him at all – he will sign a free agent contract with the Mavs next summer.
The report noted that, behind the Lakers and Nets, the Mavs are Howard’s preferred destination. That should be welcome news to the Mavs, who are steadily beating the bushes trying to make sure Dirk Nowitzki is the team’s second-best player.
With over half of their team in the final year of their contract, the Mavs will certainly have the salary cap space to sign Howard next summer. The chance to land a player of Howard’s ilk is why the Mavs cleared almost everyone from their 2011 championship team.
It’s also why the Mavs only pursued players with one-year contracts this offseason. Players of Howard’s talents don’t come around very often, so the Mavs wanted to be in prime position just in case Howard wants Dallas to be his preferred destination.
With Howard drawing constant double-teams in the middle, it’ll be mere target practice on the perimeter for Nowitzki, who is 34 years old. Also, other quality players will be lining up all the way to the West End to play for the Mavs – for a bargain-basement price – if they know they’ll be sharing the same locker room with Howard and Nowitzki.
This coming season, Howard will collect $19,261,200 -- the seventh highest-paid salary in the NBA. Needless to say, whatever it takes to get him in a Mavs uniform, owner Mark Cuban will undoubtedly do it.
As far as centers go, Howard is the game’s most dominant pivotman. The 26-year old three-time Defensive Player of the Year has career averages of 18.4 points, 13 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game, while shooting 57.7 percent from the field.
Indeed, if Howard can make it through the upcoming season without being traded to the Lakers or Nets, there may be another Mavericks parade in downtown Dallas in June of 2014. And another one in 2015, ’16, ‘17. . .
-- Dwain Price
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