Among the many free agents the Dallas Mavericks have shown a level of interest in as they put offseason Plans A, B, C, D, etc., into motion, is their former first-round pick Josh Howard, a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed Sunday.
Howard, who signed a one-year, $2.15 million deal last season with the Utah Jazz, has kept close ties to the Dallas community, holding charity basketball events a couple times a year and as recently as last month, and he continues to run his basketball camps. He still makes Dallas his home during portions of the year to be close to his young son.
"Absolutely," the source said of the 6-foot-7 small forward being interested in reuniting with the Mavs. "One of the good things for Josh, the fans are why he goes back to the community. They've supported him tremendously with his camps and foundation, even if he's out just eating lunch, they're very supportive."
During a November charity game he organized in Dallas during the lockout, Howard said he would have no problem returning to Dallas.
Any Mavs' moves at this point hinge on Deron Williams. If the the Mavs agree to terms with the All-Star point guard, money will be tight and Howard will be seeking a multiyear deal after his reemergence last season.
The source said Utah remains a strong possibility to re-sign Howard and that he feels a sense of loyalty to the franchise that gave him a chance to get his career back on track. He averaged 8.7 points and 3.7 rebounds mostly in a reserve role in 43 games. He played just 18 games in 2010-11 with the Washington Wizards.
The source said the Lakers, Nets, Spurs, Celtics, Grizzles and Hawks have also shown initial interest in Howard.
At his lockout charity game, Howard, 32, also talked of maturing and having learned from past mistakes that contributed to his 6 1/2 seasons in Dallas going up in smoke. The Mavs traded him to the Wizards in 2010 in the deal that netted Dallas Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson and Brendan Haywood.
But just four games after joining the Wizards, Howard, who fought chronic ankle and wrist issues in his latter years with Dallas, tore the ACL in his left knee. A long recovery and rehab, and then subsequent knee issues, he said, have helped to humble him and to turn his focus back on his basketball career as he now embarks on his 10th NBA season.