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Dwight Howard to the Mavericks rumors are 6 months early

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Howard won't be traded to Dallas, but next summer? That's a whole different story.

Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday, the inevitable rumors of discontent from the Rockets -- who have improved somewhat since firing Kevin McHale but are still two games under .500 -- were put out there among the NBA blogosphere. Dwight Howard is apparently unhappy playing as the second option next to James Harden, the report from Chris Sheridan said, presenting the idea that Houston was prepared to trade him.

Sheridan has a very marginal track report, which is why I didn't write this post yesterday, but that didn't stop speculation on Twitter and in our own email chain about the Mavericks trading for Houston's aging center if they are indeed looking to ship him somewhere. So just so we're on the same page, here's why that trade won't happen.

1. It might not be true

Howard strongly refuted the rumors to the Houston Chronicle, for what it's worth. Just watching the Rockets underachieve, there's probably a grain of truth in the Howard rumors, but there's no a lot of evidence he's unhappy enough to force a trade. There's still a lot of time for Houston to figure things out, too.

2. Dallas doesn't want to make another huge trade

Their current group of players is overachieving, based on preseason expectations, and Rick Carlisle acknowledged to me yesterday that they think they have an even higher ceiling than most teams because Parsons and Matthews will be even healthier come March. After Rajon Rondo assimilated into the Mavericks' system last year with the grace of an atomic bomb, the Mavericks might want to hold off on dramatically changing up the core for at least one season.

3. Who would the Mavericks even trade?

Howard makes $22 million. Dallas isn't trading Matthews, Nowitzki or Parsons. They'd have to package upwards of four or five players to even approach a salary deal that could work. I don't think Zaza Pachulia, Raymond Felton AND Devin Harris is enough base salary to match Howard's huge deal. Wouldn't you need a young player in there, too? Ah, just forget it. This is dumb. Dallas would get universally lampooned if they gutted their depth and traded away their only semblance of young talent in exchange for DWIGHT HOWARD.

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This is all especially moot because Howard is almost guaranteed to take his player option next summer and become a Dallas free agent target. The Mavericks have spent five years attempting to add players through free agency. They don't have an accumulation of assets for them to trade in exchange for talent; they have to add it at little cost to themselves. Pursuing Howard next summer, who somewhat surprisingly will still only be 30, makes almost too much sense. Dallas will gamble that their training staff can keep him healthy and that he can begin to look like he did in his best days in Orlando.

So while I appreciate a mid-December rumor to make things interesting, these are coming six months too soon. The Mavericks aren't going to trade for Dwight Howard, but free agency next summer is a different story altogether.