That being said, the slim odds might have improved for the Mavs to pull off the amazing feat of adding a pair of superstars in their prime over the last 24 hours.
It’s a good bet that the Mavs will land Williams this summer. That became clear the moment Howard finally made a firm decision after waiving the right to opt out of the final year of his contract in Orlando.
Senior NBA writer Marc Stein talks about the NBA trade deadline and why the Mavs didn't make any moves.
The Nets will spend the next three and a half months doing everything in their power to try to put together a supporting cast intriguing enough to persuade Williams to be the face of the franchise as it moves to Brooklyn. However, it’s hard to envision the Nets being attractive enough to keep The Colony native from coming home to play with Nowitzki on a proven contender.
The Mavs will be able to offer Williams a max contract this summer. They weren’t going to be able to offer max deals to both Williams and Howard this summer, so they would have had to hope that the pair of All-Stars would have given Dallas a discount to play with Dirk instead of opting to make more money in Brooklyn.
The Mavs should be able to get much closer to a full-max offer for Howard next summer if he doesn’t re-sign with the Magic. It’s probably more feasible to bring Williams and Howard together in Texas if it’s a two-step process.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that Howard will ever leave Orlando, where his loyalty is strong enough to ignore his agent’s advice and commit to the Magic for one more full season. The fact that Howard seems to be distancing himself from Dan Fegan, his extremely Mavs-friendly agent, doesn’t exactly bode well for him coming to Dallas.
So it’s a long shot for Howard to ever sign with the Mavericks. But they’ve got a great shot at landing Williams, one of the best point guards in the game, this summer.
Adding Williams without Howard isn’t the pie-in-the-sky scenario for the Mavs. It is realistic, however, and it’d be a remarkable payoff for the difficult decisions to let some championship contributors leave after the lockout.
And the Dwight dream doesn’t end unless Howard signs something with ramifications that reach well past the summer of 2013.