How big a coup would Dwight Howard be?

Kevin C. Cox

Huge, is the answer.

There's no way to know whether he'll ever be the player he was with the Magic, no way to know whether the Mavs will be able to assemble a credible perimeter defense around him, no way to know how he'll fit in. But don't let the jokes about his immaturity or goofiness or thin-skinnedness fool you. Getting Dwight would be enormous.

Listen, there are all kinds of reasons why Tyson Chandler went from obscurity to champion with the Mavericks. The first is that context is both the most important and most invisible aspect of any player's game. The Lakers' perimeter defense last year was so far from credible, Pinocchio's nose grew just watching it. It's the same team that, while technically more talented, got swept by the Mavericks because no person could ever make it out to the three-point line, only it added Steve Nash. Right?

Putting a rim defender of that caliber next to Dirk is THE #1 way to maximize Dirk, as we learned in 2011.And offensively, having Dirk to pick and pop, having Dirk to keep tall people nervous would maximize Dwight in that area as well.

For all the talk about Dwight's decline, there's a sense that he somehow fell into leading the NBA in defensive rebounds again, 2nd in boards, as if any old 6'11" guy playing next to Pau Gasol would just stumble into grabbing those boards. 4th in blocks, as if he just kept tripping fortuitously into shots. And he did this with Kobe, Steve Nash and the decaying corpse of Metta World Peace on the perimeter.

He has other problems, of course. He's turnover-prone, he commits a lot of fouls, he's a godawful free throw shooter. We know it all. But don't let that fool you into thinking he wouldn't make the Mavs much, much better. There are questions about his personality--but that's something you could say about basically any start under 28, these days. People hold up Kevin Durant as a counter-example, but he came near to leading the league in technicals last year, and you know it wasn't because he was getting in fights.

In the end, it's not that Dwight's amazing. At this point in his career, he may continue to recover health-wise, he may not, and he may just be very good. It's that the combination of Dirk and Dwight should be absolutely deadly on both ends of the court. Throw in a half-competent point guard who can shoot threes (no one is looking at you, Mike James), and the Mavs have an elegant, deadly, beautiful offense and a considerably improved defense.

And so we wait. Here, we've made fun of the idea of Dwight to Dallas a lot because of, first and foremost, our hatred of non-news items, and didn't much feel like barraging you with details about Dwight's dinner and second, because until the Mavericks were on Dwight's short list, there was no indication that they would be on his shortlist.

But now they are, he's thinking about it, and it would be a great, great pickup. So we are definitely, definitely talking about it. More here as it happens.

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