Jul 2, 2013, 11:22 AM EDT
Tuesday it is the Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Then we just sit back and wait for Dwight Howard to make his decision.
Dallas will bring to the presentation their persuasive owner Mark Cuban, superstar Dirk Nowitzki, team president Donnie Nelson, and coach Rick Carlisle.
The Mavericks’ pitch is how they plan to build the franchise around Howard, something that intrigues Howard because Cuban will spend to win. Dallas will sell they plan to make Howard the face of everything, how Dallas is a great city to be a star in. Cuban started laying the groundwork for this meeting not long after the Mavs won their 2011 title and he didn’t overpay to bring the team back together — he had a good idea what was coming with the new CBA and wanted a clean slate. But he needs to land a superstar and Howard is the only one left on the market this summer. Dallas can pitch that Nowitzki will take a pay cut next summer and they will stock the team with quality free agents who can win now.
Then comes the Lakers more complicated pitch effort.
Complicated because the Lakers basically had a year to sell Howard on the Lakers and yet here they are with a couple-hour meeting to do the same.
Complicated because Howard knows all the players in the room — coach Mike D’Antoni, GM Mitch Kupchak, owner Jim Buss, plus stars Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash — and all the baggage. He knows he is not a natural fit for Mike D’Antoni’s preferred system so there has to be compromise from the coach to make that work. He knows that he wants to be the face of the franchise but now Kobe is talking about playing three more seasons (and as long as he is around he is the face of the Lakers).
The Lakers can sell tradition (that matters to fans more than players), they can sell all the off-court advantages in Los Angeles (including maybe his own show on the Lakers’ cable partner).
But what they really need to sell is the future — after next season everyone except Nash and theoretically Howard comes off the books. The Lakers can completely remake this roster around Howard and build a new-look winner. Kobe will be back, but he will take a Tim Duncan/Kevin Garnett pay cut to help the Lakers build in the new salary cap reality. They sell Howard that the Lakers always find a way to win and if you win as the face of the Lakers you are an NBA legend. They sell legacy that way.
The conventional wisdom is that the Rockets and Lakers are the frontrunners for Howard, with the Mavs in the mix, while the Hawks and Warriors have little chance.
But this is Howard, he’s not the most decisive of guys, so this decision could go any way and could take a while (Howard is expected to think through the decision during the Fourth of July holiday, but nobody is sure when word will come down).
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