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Dwight Howard’s ultimate fallback plan? Dallas.

Jul 26, 2012, 2:11 PM EDT

Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard gestures during the first half of their NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics in Boston Reuters

Let us hope it doesn’t come to this. Not because I care if Dallas lands Dwight Howard or not but because it would mean 11 more months of this drama. None of us need that.

Howard has made it clear that he wants to be traded and where he wants to be traded. And while we’re at it, when he wants to be traded. But the Magic want what they see as fair compensation for their star — what James Dolan sees as fair compensation but nobody else — and so this drags out.

So what happens if Howard doesn’t get traded at all and plays the season with Orlando? Or, what if he is traded somewhere other than his preferred destinations?

He’s got a backup plan, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Without a deal that would deliver him to the Lakers in the near future, sources said Howard wants Henningan to revisit trade talks with the Brooklyn Nets in January, when center Brook Lopez is eligible to be traded. If deals don’t surface with the Lakers or Nets, Howard plans to sign with the Mavericks as a free agent in the summer of 2013.

While the Lakers and Nets won’t have the salary cap space to sign Howard, nor the opportunity to execute a sign-and-trade deal under new CBA rules, the Mavericks will be flush with cap space next summer. Mavs owner Mark Cuban plans to make a run at Howard, and potentially another star player, to join Dirk Nowitzki.

Nice plan.

The one flaw is the “Dallas is flush with cap space and can sign another star” part of it. No they are not. Zach Lowe breaks it down in detail at Sports Illustrated but it comes down to this — next summer Dallas will have the cap space to sign Howard at a max deal but they can do little else beyond that.

The Mavs, as of this moment, have $34.2 million in guaranteed money for the 2013-14 season committed to four players: Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Vince Carter and first-round pick Jared Cunningham.… But the rules — those rules again! — say the Mavs must account for eight empty roster spots, up to 12, by adding eight rookie minimum salary charges at $490,180 a pop. Toss those in, and you’re up to $38.1 million. Even assuming a very nice 5 percent bump up in the cap level from $58 million to $60 million, the Mavs would have about $21.9 million in cap space — just enough to fit Howard’s $20.5 million max salary, but not enough to upgrade the roster in any other meaningful way.

Dallas might make moves to clear out a little more cap space, but the idea they can just sign Howard and say Chris Paul or another free agent is wrong right now. (Besides, I bet CP3 stays with the Clips.)

  1. cmonkurt - Jul 26, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    What does James Dolan, the GM of the Knicks, have to do with any of this?

    • malcom1985 - Jul 26, 2012 at 2:31 PM

      He’s referring to the rumor that the Magic want a Denver/New York type trade for Dwight Howard. A massive blockbuster of a trade.. that will never happen because the Magic waited too long to do it.

    • snoopy2014 - Jul 26, 2012 at 3:38 PM

      Dolan (the owner of the Knicks, not the GM) overrode his own GM in the Melo trade and basically sent out an entire team of solid players. Reports have surfaced (like the one Kurt linked to) that say Hennigan and the Magic are foolishly trying to hold on for a package similar to the one Denver got for Melo, without realizing there are no James Dolans on the trade landscape to panic and present that sort of deal.

      • deadeyedesign23 - Jul 26, 2012 at 7:01 PM

        I don’t know that it’s foolish to wait it out. I mean does anyone think the Lakers and Nets offers won’t be there at the deadline? If anything it would help Orlando to have the Nets back in the fold bargaining against the Lakers.

      • snoopy2014 - Jul 26, 2012 at 10:39 PM

        I meant more that it’s foolish to expect a Denver-like package to pop up, if the reports are accurate. The Nets offer will definitely be there at the deadline.

        The Lakers offer will probably still be there at the deadline, but the longer Orlando waits, the more bargaining power they lose. Say Nash meshes extremely well with Bynum and Gasol – it would be harder to shake up a team playing with great chemistry that close to the playoffs.

        The Rockets package could be gone at the deadline too. They’re OK with a 1-year rental, but will they be OK with a 3-month rental in February? Who knows? But I can’t see Orlando’s bargaining power increasing with time, save for the Jan 15 date you mentioned when Brooklyn jumps back in.

      • Kevin S. - Jul 26, 2012 at 10:57 PM

        I’m actually not convinced the Lakers’ offer will be there at the deadline. Contrary to what Kurt thinks, Bynum has two very good reasons to sign an extension soon, and if it happens after August 15th, he’s off the trade market until next summer. At that point, Orlando is looking at whatever Houston (or Golden State) is willing to surrender for a 2-3 month rental or the Brooklyn package. At that point does Brooklyn bid against itself, or does Billy King just give Hennigan a package that’s marginally better for Orlando than letting Dwight walk for nothing?

  2. sprest83 - Jul 26, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    The problem is that writers write and general managers, manage. The one thing that the Mavs front office has done well is manage. I have extreme confidence in their front office to be able to put a good team around double D…Dirk and Dwight.

    • sprest83 - Jul 26, 2012 at 2:50 PM

      And there are some flaws in this article such as, OJ Mayo has a 2 year contract, Vince Carters contract is partially guaranteed, and Shawn Marion makes 9.3 million which is likely trade bait for that year or sooner.

    • charleslee84 - Jul 26, 2012 at 3:01 PM

      The only way there will be a ‘double D’ in Dallas is if Debbie comes back

      • tk41 - Jul 26, 2012 at 3:47 PM

        The Mavs front office is among the best in the league at managing the cap & having a forward-focusing game plan. I have complete confidence in their ability to make complimentary moves and put a phenomenal team on the court if D12 is able to sign as a free agent.

  3. twreck13 - Jul 26, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    Who needs a third star, collison, oj, marion, dirk, Dwight. Good enough

  4. brenenostler - Jul 26, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    But doesn’t Dallas have to want Howard too?

    • sprest83 - Jul 26, 2012 at 2:52 PM

      Really? Every team wants Dwight, but does Dwight want them.

      • ccshocktalk - Jul 26, 2012 at 4:50 PM

        Every team wants Dwight Howard? Hmmm must be why everyone has done so many off season moves to get everyone not named Dwight Howard. Brooklyn, LA, and Houston made runs at Dwight…is it just me or are there a few more teams in the league…

      • Kevin S. - Jul 26, 2012 at 5:13 PM

        Every team woukd want to sign Howard to a four-year contract in free agency. Most teams would not want to trade away multiple assets and take back bad contracts to get Dwight for only one year.

      • deadeyedesign23 - Jul 26, 2012 at 7:03 PM

        The rest of the teams a. didn’t have the cap space or b. didn’t want to move heaven and earth for a rental. Every single team in the NBA is better with him than without him.

  5. Chris Fiorentino - Jul 26, 2012 at 3:37 PM

    Howard will never do this. He will use the Mavericks to get himself traded somewhere else in a sign-and-trade. Cuban is too smart to sign a guy who doesn’t want to play for his team and we all know that Dwight Howard wants the bright lights and big city. He will not sign a max deal on the FA market with the Mavs. He will hold out to get traded to Nets or Lakers.

    This is just Howard’s agent trying to manufacture leverage where he has absolutely none.

    • wlubake - Jul 26, 2012 at 5:04 PM

      Don’t know if you’ve been to Dallas, but its a pretty big city. Not New York or LA, but the next step down.

      Dallas should be desirable because Dirk will be entering the final year of his deal. That means any future years of Dirk will come at a discount (say 10-12 million instead of 22 million) giving them more room in 2014 and beyond. Dwight surely would be able to see one year into the future when he signs.

  6. lakerdownunder - Jul 26, 2012 at 8:56 PM

    Does anyone seriously think that Orlando is going to hang on for the whole season like this and then see him walk out with nothing? I mean come on Dallas, stop dreaming! Is it technically possible? Yes. Will it happen? NO

  7. itsthemelman82 - Jul 26, 2012 at 8:59 PM

    Just send him somewhere so that I don’t have to read about him or hear about him again this offseason! The daily updates about a guy who doesn’t know what he wants (and has never won anything) are almost as annoying as he is.

  8. bleed4philly - Jul 27, 2012 at 9:05 AM

    He’d play for Cuban. Cuban produces movies too, Howard wants to be a movie star. It could work.

  9. badintent - Jul 29, 2012 at 3:10 AM

    Howard in the new “Free Willy “flix, he plays a Florida Mantee, an animal with the IQ of 5.

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