Some league executives are starting to believe it’s a realistic possibility.
Sure, a lot of things would have to happen, starting with the Howard not landing in New Jersey or Los Angeles before the trade deadline. But it’s more than just wishful thinking for Mavs fans to envision the NBA’s best big man and a top-five point guard teaming up with the longtime face of the franchise as Dirk nears the end of his prime.
From Marc Stein’s ESPN.com Weekend Dime, which breaks down all the potential destinations for Howard:
It has not reached the point that teams think Dallas actually has this fantasy double down all lined up already Miami Heat-style. Anyone who has studied the Mavericks' cap situation knows they'd have to clear out pretty much everyone on the roster not named Dirk Nowitzki to have enough cap space to make bids high enough for two max-level players to consider them.
Specifically? Dallas would likely have to release Brendan Haywood through the amnesty clause next summer, trade away Shawn Marion without taking back any salary and also give away young guards Roddy Beaubois and Dominique Jones, while also letting free agents-to-be Jason Terry, Lamar Odom, Vince Carter and Delonte West walk.
Lots of folks around the league are starting to believe that it's possible if not probable. Even before the Showcase started Monday, two rival executives told ESPN.com that they think Marion will still have trade value at season's end after the defense and energy he supplied during Dallas' championship run and the solid manner in which he's started this season.
If they're right, even with two seasons left on Marion's contract after this one (valued at just over $18 million) and his 34th birthday looming in May, Dallas really could have a shot if Howard is wearing anything but a Nets or Lakers jersey at season's end.
Said one East admirer of Mavericks owner Mark Cuban: "Mark has made Dallas a destination city right up there with the Lakers and Miami."