Why would Dwight Howard come to Dallas?
“I guess you never know,” Nowitzki told ESPNDallas.com this week. “That’s up to Dwight. You never know what’s in a player’s mind. I don’t know him. I guess we just have to wait and see how the season ends for them. That’s something that’s out of our control.
“We’ll have to wait and see what happens there. They’ve had some issues -- everybody’s following them -- but I still think they’re so talented. I still think they’re going to make a run at it.”
For the sake of discussion, let’s say the Lakers don’t make a run at it. Let’s assume that Howard gets so sick of the prima-donna power struggle with Kobe that he walks this summer.
Can the Mavericks convince Howard that Dallas is the best destination for him? Of the teams that can create enough cap space to sign him, the Atlanta Hawks and Houston Rockets would seem to be the stiffest competition.
|Mavericks GM Donnie Nelson joins Galloway & Company to discuss the team's recent trade for Anthony Morrow and push for the playoffs.
Atlanta’s 26-year-old double-double machine Al Horford could slide over to his natural power forward position and form arguably the NBA’s best 4-5 duo with Howard. Houston’s 23-year-old All-Star shooting guard James Harden and Howard might be the best one-two punch, period, outside of Miami and Oklahoma City.
The Hawks, Howard’s hometown team, also have fellow Atlanta native Lou Williams to provide scoring firepower off the bench for the next two seasons. Atlanta will have enough cap space to sign Howard and make other moves in free agency, perhaps including re-signing point guard Jeff Teague or all-around forward/Howard friend Josh Smith.
|The day after the NBA trade deadline, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban joins The Ben & Skin Show to talk about the trades made and the Mavericks' future.
What do the Mavs have to sell other than the chance to play next to Dirk, a Hall of Famer in decline, and the opportunity to play for an elite coach in Rick Carlisle?
“Same thing we always sell -- that our focus is winning first, second and last, and that we can go out and get whatever assets on the court and off the court that we need to, hopefully in unique ways that other teams can’t match,” Mark Cuban said, speaking in general about a potential summer pitch to a superstar but not specifically Howard.
Deron Williams didn’t take that bait last summer. He opted to move to Brooklyn with the Nets, swayed in large part by the Nets’ trade for Joe Johnson.
Of course, Cuban wasn’t part of the Mavs’ face-to-face pitch to Williams due to his commitment to film a reality show (“freakin’ Shark Tank,” Dirk calls it) on the West Coast. The Mavs’ billionaire boss told his TV producers months ago that he needed his schedule to be clear for the first couple weeks of July this summer.
Nowitzki, who would love nothing more than to pass the face-of-the-franchise baton to another star this summer, is also ready to play a supporting role in the recruiting process.
“If it gets to the point and Mark and Donnie want to fly somewhere, I’m in,” said Nowitzki, whose contract expires, along with Shawn Marion’s, after the 2013-14 season, making the Mavs potentially major players in that summer market as well. “If they need me, I’ll be here.”
The Mavs are really selling Cuban -- “Mark’s commitment to championships,” Donnie Nelson says -- as much as anything else in free agency. If given the chance, they’ll try to convince Howard that they can build a long-term contender around him, just like they did for a dozen years around Dirk.
“You look at what we’ve done over the years in terms of making the best use of our assets, whether they be players, cap space,” Nelson said. “We’ve been blessed and fortunate enough to make two runs to the Finals, and those teams were completely different in a lot of respects.
“You know when you’re playing for Mark Cuban that he’ll do whatever it takes to punch it into the end zone. I think those things are pretty evident. Players know that. They see. They’ve been around. They see what kind of run we’ve had over the past 13 years or whatever.
“This is a place that people want to come.”
This summer would be a perfect time to prove that to be true. It'd take a heck of a recruiting pitch to make it happen with Howard.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett at Mavericks media day to discuss his expectations for the upcoming season.
Play Podcast Mark Cuban joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Mavericks' new GM Gersson Rosas and much more.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss Mark Cuban's comments from Las Vegas about the Mavericks' offseason, how he sees the team without Dwight Howard and more.
Play Podcast Marc Stein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why the Mavericks didn't want to match Cleveland's offer to Andrew Bynum, what's next for the Mavs and the possibility of Dirk Nowitzki ending his career elsewhere.
Play Podcast Jeff Platt fires quick-hitters at Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon in the weekly sports standoff about Andrew Bynum, the Mavs' current backcourt, a potential Nelson Cruz suspension and more.
Play Podcast ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why she thinks Andrew Bynum got a bad rap in Los Angeles and how he would fit in with the Mavericks.
Play Podcast Buy, sell or hold? If Dwight Howard goes to another team, what are the Mavs' options? The guys take a look at a list of potential fallback options.
Play Podcast ESPN's Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the latest news on the Mavericks' meeting with Dwight Howard.