Mavs face another year of offseason questions

The Dallas Mavericks face a whole lot of questions heading into their offseason. It seems like unanswered questions has been part of the Mavs organization since they won their championship in 2011. Instead of bringing back the championship team for the 2012 season, the Dallas Mavericks decided to break away from the team to create cap space for a rebuilding transition.

Over the last three seasons, the Mavericks aimed for star fee agents Deron Williams, Chris Paul, and Dwight Howard. Dallas swung for all three of them and missed on all three. In the 2012 season following the championship, the Mavs had pieces from their championship team still around but with key pieces, Tyson Chandler, JJ Barea, and DeShawn Stevenson leaving via free agency; it definitely affected the Mavericks during the 2012 lockout year.

The Mavericks did trade for Lamar Odom. Most people loved the trade at the time. Lamar Odom did win the sixth man of the year award during the 2011 season. When Odom got to Dallas, everyone could tell something wasn’t right. Odom was deactivated before the season even ended after he got into a confrontation with owner Mark Cuban during a regular season game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

At the end of the 2012 season, the Mavs attempted to sign hometown grown Deron Williams. The Mavericks offered Williams a max deal but Williams declined and re-signed with the Brooklyn Nets after the Nets traded for Joe Johnson.

The Mavs then did a restructuring of their roster trading and signing one year rentals of OJ Mayo, Darren Collison, Dahntay Jones, Chris Kaman, Mike James, and others.  The 2012-2013 season featured Dirk Nowitzki missed nearly half the season due to injury. The Mavs got off to a 13-23 record until Dirk came back. Dirk tried to revive the Mavs the best they could but it was too late. The Mavs finished 41-41 and finished 4 games out of the final playoff spot.

At the end of the 2013 season, the Mavs attempted to sign Dwight Howard away from the Lakers and Chris Paul away from the Clippers. Chris Paul finally put an end to his free agent rumors and signed a max deal with the LA Clippers. Most people expected Chris Paul to do that at some point. Nobody knew what Dwight Howard wanted to do. Over the course of Dwight’s career with the Magic and the Lakers, he had been very indecisive on where he wanted to play.

After a nightmare season with the Lakers, Dwight decided to pursue free agency and the Mavs pursued him hard. The Mavs had Mark Cuban, Donnie Nelson, Dirk Nowitzki, and other representatives take a summer trip to Los Angeles to try to meet and pursue Dwight. That attempt failed as Dwight bolted the Mavs and the Lakers and decided to go play with James Harden and the Houston Rockets.

The Mavericks then had a plan B and decided to go with Monta Ellis, Jose Calderon, and Samuel Dalembert as their prime free agent signings. This season, the Mavs fought very hard to make the playoffs and they did on the 81st game of the NBA season. The Mavs battled all year through a very tough western conference.

This offseason, the Mavs face another hand of questions involving free agency. Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter, Shawn Marion, Devin Harris, DeJuan Blair, Jae Crowder, and Bernard James are all eligible to become free agents.

Dirk Nowitzki has indicated that he will resign with a hometown discount so that the Mavs have more flexibility sign other free agents. Dirk Nowitzki who turns 36 in June doesn’t have a long window left and he would like other stars to play with him in his golden years. With free agents Carmelo Anthony, Luol Deng, Marcin Gortat and others all available to possibly improve the Mavs team, we may have seen the final days of Shawn Marion and Vince Carter wearing Dallas Mavericks uniforms.

Free Agency doesn’t begin till July 1st. The Mavericks will be in the free agency hunt once again for the third straight year and we can also expect trades to be made at some point this summer to try to improve the team. What those trades will be? At this point, nobody really knows. There is speculation that with Phil Jackson now running the New York Knicks, Tyson Chandler could be involved in a trade to help with the rebuilding of the Knicks. Roy Hibbert of the Indiana Pacers has had tough NBA playoffs and may need a change of scenery if Indiana doesn’t win it all.

When Mark Cuban bought the Mavs, he put them in a comfortable position that lasted over a decade. Mavs fans got pretty spoiled and loved the 50 and 60 win seasons. We loved the deep playoff runs o f 2003, 2006, and 2011. We have definitely gotten a little spoiled. Expectations are higher. We don’t like missing the playoffs and fighting for the 7 and 8th seed. With that said, we knew a rebuild was coming at some point, and we can only hope that Cuban and Nelson get it right so we can have one more final hoorah with the best player in Mavs history, Dirk Nowitzki.

That’s All Folks

The 2013-2014 season for the Dallas Mavericks is over. It ended in an unexpected game 7 with the San Antonio Spurs, the best team during the regular season. In a series that a lot of people had the Spurs winning in a sweep, Dallas was able to push the Spurs to the brink. Dallas came in to the AT&T Center on Sunday hoping for their first playoff series win since their 2011 NBA Championship against the Miami Heat. The Spurs had a different idea. The Spurs wanted to show why they had the best record in the NBA during the regular season so they could end this series and get ready for the Portland Trailblazers.

The game was not close at all. The Spurs got off to an early lead and never looked back. They led by 12 at the end of the first quarter, and they led by 22 at halftime. During the second quarter, the Spurs led by as much as 29. The Spurs shot nearly 70% from the field.

In the third quarter, Dallas attempted a comeback and within the first 5 minutes of the quarter, trimmed the lead down to 14. San Antonio then got back to business and never looked back. The Spurs took the lead to as many as 31 points in the 2nd half and ultimately won the game 119-96.

The Spurs were led by their big 3 of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. Parker led the three headed monster with 32 points shooting 11-19. Ginobili scored 20 points shooting 5-7 from the field. Duncan had 15 points and shot 7 of 8 from the field.

For the Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki scored 22 points, Devin Harris had 17, and Monta Ellis had 12 points. Despite the good games from Nowitzki and Harris, it was obvious Dallas could just never get it going. Monta Ellis got in foul trouble early which affected his grove for the entire game.

The Mavericks final game was disappointing but the season itself was not. A lot of experts did not even have the Mavs making the playoffs. It felt like the ones who did have the Mavs in the playoffs had them getting swept or losing in 5 games. The Mavs were able to take the team with the best record, and their most hated rivals right to the brink and even though the Mavs didn’t show up in game 7, most fans will not call this season a failure.

Texas two-step Game 7?

The Dallas Mavericks defeated the San Antonio Spurs Friday night 113-111 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas to put themselves in a position to compete for a game 7 on Sunday afternoon at the AT&T Center. The Mavericks came into game 6 trailing 3-2 and losers of two straight games in the series.

How they were able to do it?

Monta Ellis put the 4th quarter in his own hands. Ellis finished the game with 29 points with 12 of them coming in the 4th quarter. That performance by Ellis helped lead a comeback as the Mavs trailed by 5 heading into the 4th quarter. DeJuan Blair was suspended for game 5 but he let his presence show in game 6 by contributing 14 rebounds which included 5 of them on the offensive end. Dirk Nowitzki scored 22 points, playing a supporting role for Monta Ellis. The Mavericks were able to score 37 points in the 4th quarter and shoot 57% from the field.

What to expect in game 7?

The San Antonio Spurs are facing becoming the third one seeded team to fall to the 8 seed team in the last 7 years. The last two teams to do it were the 2007 Dallas Mavericks to the Golden State Warriors, and these same San Antonio Spurs in 2011 to the Memphis Grizzlies. Some experts believe that San Antonio was not fully healthy with Manu Ginobili missing the series.

To a lot of Mavs and Spurs fans, this series reminds them of the 2006 semi conference finals when the Mavs beat the Spurs in 7 games. The 7th game happened to be at the same AT&T Center that the Mavericks will be at Sunday afternoon. That 7th game went into overtime where Dirk Nowitzki had one of his all-time memorable performances. Both Mavs and Spurs fans remember when Ginobili fouled Nowitzki which sent Nowitzki to the free throw line which put the Mavs in OT to ultimately win the game and the series.

History shows that Dirk Nowitzki will be ready for game 7. Nowitzki is 4-0 in Game 7s throughout his career. Nowitzki has averaged 28 points and nearly 15 rebounds in Game 7s. Veterans on the Mavs like Vince Carter and Shawn Marion could potentially be playing for all the marbles on Sunday afternoon as it may be their last game in Mavericks uniforms. They are veterans; history shows that veterans are ready for game 7s. Monta Ellis who was a member of the 2007 Golden State Warriors always feels that he has something to prove. He showed that in game 6 and we can expect that in game 7.

The San Antonio Spurs are led by their dynamic trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. On top of that, the Spurs have a future hall of fame coach in Gregg Popovich. Despite the pressure they may have, they will be ready to play. On top of that, they are at home.

In other words, this has all of the potential to be a classic Texas two-step in the Alamo city. Two veteran teams that are throwing everything out of the window for this one final game, at least for now.

Mavs late rally not enough for veteran Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs defeated the Dallas Mavericks 93-89 in game 4 in Dallas on Monday night to tie the series at two games apiece as well as take back home court advantage in the series.  Dallas opened up the game looking like the team in total command.

In the 2nd quarter everything that could go wrong for the Mavericks went wrong. They were outscored by the Spurs 32-13; they shot 29% from the field in the first half. Dallas went ice cold in the 2nd quarter and that put them in a very big hole. The score was 50-36 at halftime.

In the second half, Dallas got a spark in the third quarter from their bench, particularly by DeJuan Blair. Blair helped lead the Mavericks to a 29-23 advantage in the third quarter and cut the Spurs lead by the end of the quarter with a score of 73-65.

In the 4th quarter the Mavericks made a rally and even led in the quarter. With San Antonio facing the possibility of going back home down 3-1, the veteran leadership of the Spurs definitely showed. Boris Diaw hit a big time 3 to take a 3 point lead immediately after Monta Ellis hit a three to tie up the game.

In the closing seconds, San Antonio had a one point lead with Manu Ginobili headed to the free throw line. Ginobili missed the first free throw and then made the second. San Antonio led 91-89. Dallas had the ball with less than 10 seconds to go, and they went to Monta Ellis, Monta drove with a spin move and took a wide open layup and the ball rolled in and out of the rim. San Antonio got the ball; Ginobili got fouled and made the final two free throws to end the game to pretty much end the game.

Dallas and San Antonio will face each other on Wednesday night for game 5 in San Antonio. From what we have seen so far, this game reminds us of the 2006 series between the Mavs and Spurs. In that series, we had a blowout and tight games for all 7 games. As of right now, we have a similar series here. Game 5 will be pivotal for both teams. Who wins? We will have to wait and see.

Mavs look to even series against Spurs in Game 2

What can we expect tonight out of the Mavericks in game 2 in their first round match up vs. the San Antonio Spurs? This is a question that is pretty simple to answer. Going by history, it is fair to say that Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis will not both go 4-14 with 11 points again. Dirk Nowitzki is a 12 time all-star, an MVP, and a Finals MVP. Throughout his career, Dallas has been able to rely on Dirk to get the job done when the Mavs need him most. Monta Ellis is a slashing scorer who loves proving people wrong. The 2007 Dallas Mavericks were a victim of Monta Ellis when Ellis was a member of the Golden State Warriors during the infamous 2007 1st round matchup between the 1 seeded Mavericks and the 8 seeded Warriors which resulted in the Warriors upsetting the Mavs in 6 games.

The Mavericks do not want to go down 2 games to the Spurs. Even though the Mavs will be returning to the American Airlines Center for game 3, the Spurs have now won 10 straight games against the Mavericks, had the best record in the NBA’s Regular Season which included the league’s best road record. Since they have a number of veterans who have been in this situation before, they are not worried about “home court advantage.”

In Game 2, the Mavericks must find a way to have some type of control over Tony Parker and Tim Duncan. Parker and Duncan combined, scorched Dallas in game 1 with 48 points off of 21-36 shooting. Dallas did do a better job against Parker in the 2nd half but in the 1st half, Parker was getting to the rim at ease, just running past the Dallas defense.

The bench was a plus for the Mavericks in game 1. Led by Devin Harris with 19 points, Brandon Wright and Vince Carter followed with 11 points and 10 points to help Harris off the bench.  The Mavericks did a good job in game 1 containing the number one bench in the league during the regular season. The Mavs held the Spurs bench to 23 points, 17 of them coming from Manu Ginobili.

In Game 2, Dirk and Monta must come alive. The bench must continue to play well, and the defense has to create stops against the Spurs big 3 of Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili. If Dallas does that, they may be in position to take control of the series.

Dirkpire State of Mind

New York City knows how to do it big. It is the city home to the Empire State Building, the brand new rebuilt World Trade Center, the Statue of Liberty, and many other tall buildings and sculptures that light up the New York Tri-State area. It is a city that just came off of hosting its first ever Superbowl. It is the city that has the old saying, “if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.”

Madison Square Garden is located in New York City as well. Madison Square Garden is known as “the world’s most famous arena.” The NBA basketball team that calls that arena home is one thing that actually stands small in New York, that team is the New York Knicks.

The New York Knicks have been a disaster this season and going into Monday night’s game they had been losers of two in a row and they had lost 8 out of their last 10. Their opponent, the Dallas Mavericks came into MSG winners of three in a row and winners of 8 out of their last 10. Last night, once again, it would be the opponent who would come into New York City’s Madison Square Garden and have the last laugh of the night and it came at the hands of that team’s superstar player.

The Knicks and Mavericks battled all night, it was a high scoring back and forth affair that was fun for the crowd to watch. Carmelo Anthony was abusing the Mavericks left and right. Anthony finished with 44 points and even had 21 of those 44 points come off of three pointers.

The Mavericks had three 20 point scorers last night. Vince Carter led the Mavericks scoring 23 points, Monta Ellis tagged right behind Carter with 22 and Jose Calderon came in with 20.

Carmelo Anthony did not care about how many Mavs players scored 20 points or more. Anthony was on a mission to get a win and to get his Knicks on the right track. With 1:37 left in the affair, the Knicks trailed 108-100. Anthony was able to lead the Knicks back to a tie of 108 with 50.9 seconds left.

The score stayed pat for the next 40 seconds and it would be Dallas’ turn to inbound the ball. The Mavericks decided to give the ball to the best player in Dallas Mavericks history in Dirk Nowitzki. Nowitzki, up to this point had a below average game in the “world’s most famous arena.” At this point, Nowitzki was 5-12 with 13 points.

Nowitzki got the ball with about 7 seconds left and had Carmelo Anthony all over him. The stage was set. You had two of the best stars in the NBA playing for a big win at Madison Square Garden in New York City. How would it play out? Nowitzki would let the shot release out of his hand with about 2.9 seconds left, and the ball would rattle above the rim and sink right through the net giving the Mavericks the win with a final score of 110-108. Nowitzki would finish with 15 points off of 6-13 shooting.

Dirk Nowitzki said after the game, “it was probably the ugliest game-winner I ever shot. I didn’t even feel like celebrating it was so ugly.” Regardless of how it looked, at the end of the day, it was still a win. Dirk, to no surprise stood big in a city that knows how to do things big. We will see if the Mavs can continue their winning ways against New Orleans Wednesday night at the AAC.

Dallas Mavericks Defense Will Be A Long Term Problem

Last night the Dallas Mavericks fell to 3-2, suffering a 107-93 defeat at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The 107 points scored by the Thunder was the fourth time an opponent has scored over 100 points so far this year against the Mavs. In the first five games, the Mavs are allowing 106.4 points per game, which is 26th in the league.

We knew coming into this season that defense would be a struggle for Dallas, as Samuel Dalembert was really the only true center that was known for defense on the roster. Big men get into the paint with ease, as do guards, and passes around the basket are leading to easy buckets. Mavs opponents have scored an average of 44 points in the paint per game.

With Brandan Wright hurt, and DeJuan Blair standing at only 6’7″, we knew that rebounding would be an issue as well. Dallas is averaging 43 boards a game, good for 13th in the league, but let’s not let that get our hopes up. Through five games it’s very obvious that boxing out and getting rebounds will be an issue.

Now, it’s very early in the season, and with Rick Carlisle as a head coach, you can always bank on a team improving in areas of weakness as the year progresses. However, it’s going to be a difficult task to get this team where it needs to be defensively, and as long as that’s the case, this team is a 7 or 8 seed at best.

The Biggest Questions Around the Dallas Mavericks

Another offseason and another MFFL disappointment as the big name on the market finds another team, leaving the Dallas Mavericks to pick from the bottom of the free agency market. In the meantime, Mark Cuban and the rest of the Dallas front office were sitting around twiddling their thumbs waiting for an indecisive big man to make a decision as most of the free agency market cleared out leaving Dallas left fishing for bait.

For such a long time the Mavericks front office has been labeled as the group that can get things done and spend money willingly. However, they haven’t had a chance to spend that money because they can’t bring in the big payroll players to dish out that cash.

In the last decade, the biggest offseason signing was bringing in an injury plagued Tyson Chandler that appeared to be heading towards the decline of his career. The Dallas medical staff got him on the right path, Dallas won a title that year and Tyson went on to New York to win a Defensive MVP award.

Bringing in Chandler was a luck roll trade with the Charlotte Bobcats. Charlotte were look to get rid of Chandler and signing Eric Dampier was one of the biggest mistake the Mavs had ever made. Bobcats took Dampier, Matt Carroll, Eduardo Najera and cash considerations in exchange, Dallas gets Chandler and Alexis Ajinca and in all fairness no one would have predicted Chandler to have that sort of impact for the team.

A rather ugly trade for Charlotte when you look back on it, but nonetheless it gave Dallas is first title in franchise history. Where this trade worked out for the Mavs, the following result was simply much more than what they expected from what is now one of the top big men in the league.

That being said, the Dallas front office really doesn’t appear to know what they’re doing unless they can find a way to get a bit lucky.

At the beginning of the 2012 free agency rush, Cuban started talking about the grand master plan that included Dwight Howard, Deron Williams and a player later to be named during the 2014 free agency market – one that is constantly talked about as the biggest free agent rush that the NBA has ever experienced. Now, Dallas has struck out on both Williams and Howard with seeming no effort at all, giving the team virtually no chance to land a player they want in next year’s free agency blockbuster.

It is becoming more and more apparent that the master plan laid out a couple years ago by the Dallas front office has been nothing but smoke and mirrors to try and get the Mavericks name in the media. Though they might have srious implications in bringing these players in it appears that none of the pursuits were serious.

Without doubt, the Mavs will likely be in conversation with LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony this time next year and like the previous two off season’s the story will be no different.

This Mavericks lineup is full with new players that simply do not fit the mold of Rick Carlisle’s defensive system. With the new roster, if Shawn Marion is to be traded like many predict, Dirk Nowitzki and Samuel Dalembert could very well be the best defensive players in the entire rotation.

Then throw in the fact that they simply over played an aging point guard in Jose Calderon and a very inconsistent off-guard in Monta Ellis, Dallas appears to be in panic mode.

This team on paper appear to be an offensive juggernaut and could score 115 points per game, but it becomes tough to win when the other team puts a 125 spot on the scoreboard every night.

Not too long ago, Cuban and the rest of the staff made a type of promise to Nowitzki that they would bring another elite level player to the team to take some of the weight of an entire franchise of his shoulders. So far, the so called promise to the Big German has been nothing less than hollow.

Dallas is losing its championship flash that it leased after 2011 and sooner rather than later, it could be looking at a rebuilding era with Dirk playing tennis during his retirement or playing in an opposing teams colors. For the MFFL, prepare for Dirk trade talks once again because at this rate it appears that may be the direction Dallas is heading if, and when, the Mavs strike out again in 2014.

Looking at the Mavericks from my angle, I see a team in a state of panic looking to get any recognizable name on the roster for the upcoming season and in the process over playing for them at the same time.

I can only hope that they don’t think that this team is the foundation for this so called contender that Dallas keeps trying to build. The only situation where this works out is if some desperate team at the end of the trade deadline would be willing to take on the contract of recently signed Monta Ellis as the centerpiece of the trade.  Like I said, that team would have to be desperate for an off guard of Ellis’ abilities.

My recommendations to the Mavericks is leave the A-list players alone and get a head start on the players that you can get and would usually miss out on, waiting for decisions from the elite players. Lastly, actually use the draft original draft picks rather than trading 20 times before eventually picking you a rookie.

Now, just like last year after striking out on Deron Williams, Cuban came out to the media and said that the team is better off without the superstar that they were chasing. It becomes tough to take these statements by Cuban seriously when his precious Mavericks failed to break .500 in the previous season because quite frankly Cuban is looking to win a second championship immediately instead of making it a multiyear project which best suits this team.

Right now the Mavericks are in what I like to call the questions class just like every other Dallas based professional franchise. No one seems to know what direction the franchise is heading or what is planned next.

The Mavs are now a team with lots of questions but no clear answer. Dallas needs to go back to the drawing board because something is off in the grand scheme and time is running out to make second run towards another title with a legitimate superstar leading the way.

Can the Mavericks Get Eric Bledsoe and Dwight Howard?

(Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images)

As the Mavericks recruiting team (Mark Cuban, Donnie Nelson, Rick Carlisle and Dirk Nowitzki) make their way to Los Angeles today to court free agent Dwight Howard, another rumor is stirring in L.A.

It appears that the Los Angeles Clippers are interested in working out a sign and trade where they deal Eric Bledsoe away for a young shooting guard. One of the key targets for Doc Rivers and the Clips seems to be former Maverick O.J. Mayo, who decided against using his player option last month in favor of testing the free agent waters.

According to Chris Broussard, Mayo and Doc Rivers are getting lunch today.

That’d be cool, seeing how the Mavericks desperately need a point guard, but what would that mean on the Howard front? Let’s take a look.

Currently, the Mavericks are looking to offload about $2.7 million from this year’s payroll so they can sign D12 to a max contract (4-years, $88 million). Initially, I thought maybe Shawn Marion would take one for the team and not use his player option for $9.3 million this season, instead renegotiating for a longer contract that paid him less this year.

In short, Marion did the opposite, taking the $9.3 this year. In order for the Mavericks to get down to a place where they can max out Howard, they now have to trade either Shawn Marion, or Vince Carter (set to earn $3.1 million this season).

However, there’s not a lot of interest in Vince Carter, and even if they did manage to ship him off somewhere they wouldn’t be able to execute the sign and trade and max out Howard. That essentially leaves one option: Trade Shawn Marion.

Now, before the 2013 NBA Draft there were some serious rumors that Cleveland was willing to take Shawn Marion’s contract off of Dallas’ hands in order to move up to #13 (from #19) in the first round. If that had actually happened, then this whole problem would have been solved.

Instead, Dallas shifted things around multiple times, acquiring two young, high-potential players in Shane Larking and Ricky Ledo. Meanwhile, Cleveland held on to the 19th pick and got who they wanted in the first place, shooting guard Sergey Karasev, from Russia.

So now, the Mavs have to do some wheeling and dealing. Tim McMahon does a great job of breaking down what Dallas needs to do, dollars wise.

Here are the guaranteed contracts on the Mavs’ books as free agency is about to begin:
Dirk Nowitzki — $22,721,381
Shawn Marion — $9,316,796
Vince Carter — $3,180,000
Jae Crowder — $788,872
Shane Larkin — $1,280,800

The CBA requires teams to have $490,180 cap holds to fill out the roster up to 12 spots. With those five players and seven holds, the Mavs’ total commitments are $40,719,109.

The salary cap is expected to be $58.5 million. That would give Dallas $17,780,891 of cap space. A max contract for Howard would start with a salary of $20,513,178, meaning the Mavs would need to trim another $2,732,287.

Eric Bledsoe is set to earn $2.6 million this season so if Dallas wanted to go after both of them they’d have to shed a total of about $5.4 million. So, to beat a dead horse, if Dallas wants to make that happen, they need to trade Shawn Marion.

Frankly, I don’t see both deals happening, but wouldn’t it be awesome?

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How the Mavericks Could Land Dwight Howard

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 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.

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