It seems like the Dwight Howard Sweepstakes have swung in favor of the Dallas Mavericks over the past few days. An article by ESPN’s Chris Broussard came out on Thursday claiming that sources close to the situation have said that Dwight does not want to resign with the Lakers, and is naming Houston, Dallas and Atlanta as possible destinations. Broussard makes note though, that while Houston seems like the obvious choice, with James Harden and Chandler Parsons actively recruiting Howard, there are rumors that Dwight doesn’t like the Rockets’ offense:
Howard, however, has concerns about the Rockets’ style of play, sources say. While he likes the idea of playing for coach Kevin McHale, he sees that they play an up-tempo, perimeter-oriented style that does not feature post play.
Broussard also makes note that Dwight wants to be in a system that better fits his skill set, where he can be the main guy in the offense. To me, that means Dallas is where Dwight should land. It’s also safe to say that the Mavs are putting a lot of stake in getting Howard this offseason, based on their moves during the 2013 NBA Draft on Thursday night.
As Tim McMahon of ESPNDallas.com points out, the moves to land Shane Larkin and Ricky Ledo created about $1.1 million in cap space, leaving the Mavericks about $2.7 million short of being able to sign Howard to a max deal (4-years, $88 million). Here are the details:
The Mavs created $1,092,720 in cap space with all of the wheeling and dealing during the first round.
By moving down from the 13th pick to the 18th, the Mavs created $374,500 in cap space. Dumping 2012 first-round pick Jared Cunningham in the trade with Atlanta created another $718,220 in cap space (his 2013-14 salary minus a roster cap hold).
The Mavs entered the night needing to trim $3.83 million to be in position to sign Dwight Howard to a max contract with a first-year salary of $20.51 million. That figure is now down to $2.74 million.
As I was talking to a buddy at my office this morning, he pointed out that with that little amount left to cut, Dallas doesn’t necessarily have to trade Shawn Marion. Instead, the Mavericks could just let Marion opt out, and renegotiate him to a longer deal (he suggested 3-years, $15 million). Essentially, this would guarantee Marion $6 million more than he’s got on his current contract, but cuts what the Mavericks owe him in 2013 by a little more than $4 million. Boom.
Now, take a moment to really think about who the Mavericks acquired in the draft last night. Shane Larkin, a point guard from Miami who ran the pick and roll better than anyone else in college basketball last year, and Ricky Ledo, a shooting guard who is surrounded by a ton of hype. Essentially, the Mavericks put two young, athletic guys in the backcourt that can play perfectly with Dwight, as well as an aging Dirk Nowitzki.
Now, Dwight has apparently refused to run the pick and roll in the past, but if any coach can convince him to start running it, it’s Rick Carlisle. Carlisle loves the pick and roll, and with Larkin on the team, it once again becomes a real weapon on offense.
Of course, in the end, this all depends on a guy who seemingly has no idea what he really wants from one day to the next. As Broussard points out, Howard’s mind could change 15 times by July 10, when the NBA’s moratorium on new business is lifted.
Despite Dwight Howard’s past antics, there’s no doubt that landing him would be the best thing Dallas could do this offseason.