Last night news broke that Dwight Howard was not a lock to resign Los Angeles. I don't really know how this is news or how it broke, considering this is what we've been hearing for well over a year now. But because we inch closer to free agency every day and we have little else to talk about in Mavsland, it's worth looking into. Again.
As much as we don't want to hear this, that Dallas is listed as a secondary option for Howard matters. That we're on his radar is fantastic; with all the work Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson have done over the years to make Dallas a first class operation, the Mavericks should be on any free agent's wish list. This is just the first time in the Cuban era that Dallas has had money to burn, so for once it actually matters. But that Dallas is on his list can't matter more than the other facts at hand.
Let's start with his current club. The Lakers, as much as I am pained to admit, are the single best professional basketball franchise. Between the location and the rich history of the organization, the Lakers often act like they are on a different plane of existence because they ARE. Everyone in the basketball blogosphere used to make jokes about Dwight going to LA until it freaking happened. Try to think back about how you felt when you heard about the trade. It was probably some variation of "They did it AGAIN?" Despite the fact that the Lakers will have some sort term obstacles to get over, from 2014 and on the Lakers have nearly a blank slate. Toss in the additional money Howard is going to make from his contract and endorsements (I hope he signs a lucrative deal with Passages; I'm just sure they treat narcissism) it's so hard for me to imagine him walking away.
Next, let's consider his probably number one location on his wish list. The opportunity to play with James Harden, Chandler Parsons, and Omer Asik while being coached by Kevin McHale sounds incredible. Until Asik and Jeremy Lin's back-loaded deals ring up on the salary cap, Houston is going to be a force (Heck, I'm sure GM Darryl Morey will figure something out to get Lin's contract off their books). They play the kind of basketball that the league is trending towards. A strong guard in Harden who can both get to the rim and facilitate an offense is something Howard craves. Houston is on an upward trajectory and this is a huge selling point for any young free agent.
Finally, let's talk Dallas. In order to make room for the big man, the Maverick front office would have to strip the team down, giving up rights to all of the free agents currently on the team. That would leave Dirk Nowitizki, Shawn Marion, and Vince Carter. I love all three of these guys. But that's not a team on the rise. That's a team in need of youth. And a point guard. We all saw what happened when a talented team is guided by a hapless point guard this season. Would Dwight be willing to play out another year until Dirk takes his paycut and Dallas can sign more talent? I don't know. Given his tendency to vocalize his complaints with the media, I certainly don't think another frustrating season is something he'd be willing to undergo.
From a basketball point of view only, Howard's options in order of preference should be Houston, Los Angeles, then Dallas. Including money, it's probably Los Angeles, Houston, and then Dallas. Unless Dwight values an aging Dirk over a young Harden, I don't see how or why Howard would choose the Mavericks.
This is not to say it won't happen. Dwight is not really an astute judge of anything, so I certainly think it's in the realm of possibilities. The Dallas front office knows all this though, which is partially why Chris Paul is the number one option. In the days and weeks ahead you'll probably see more and more about why and how Howard might make his way into a Maverick uniform, mainly because it's fun to talk about. The reasons why it's unlikely are less fun and less covered. Just because something can happen doesn't mean that it will. Unfortunately, we're likely to end up very disappointed by the end of this off season.