The NBA trade deadline is tomorrow at 3 p.m. While the Mavericks will most likely stay put, the actions of other teams, most notably the Magic and the Dwight Howard saga, will have a profound effect on the team’s offseason plans.
Mark Cuban stayed away from re-signing key championship pieces Tyson Chandler, J.J. Barea and Caron Butler for a shot at a superstar-heavy 2012 free-agent class.
Dallas is looking to sign at least one star to play along with Dirk Nowitzki for the tail end of his career and to build around after No. 41 finally hangs it up.
Deron Williams has been the main piece that has been discussed, as he is a Dallas native and a young point guard, making him the perfect fit to replace the aging Jason Kidd.
However, it seems as if Williams’ fate is intertwined with another member of the free-agent class— actually more like the centerpiece of the entire offseason, literally.
Dwight Howard is the best center in the league and is the LeBron James of the 2012 offseaon. Wherever he ends up going, other players and news will follow. Williams and Howard have been linked together for the past two seasons and it seems that if Howard goes to one team, Williams will be signing a contract there shortly after.
The Mavericks have a real chance to acquire both in the offseason. Dallas is an attraction to both, and Cuban’s commitment to his players is a huge draw. But the leader in the clubhouse for both players’ services is the New Jersey Nets.
The Nets have the advantage of already having Williams, and if they can manage to swing a trade for Howard before the deadline, it would be almost certain that both would stay in New Jersey and sign long-term extensions.
But if Howard and Williams were both able to reach free agency, Dallas would become a real player in the sweepstakes for the stars. The Mavericks have more attractive players to put around them than the Nets and hold a much better chance of winning now.
The Nets would still be an solid option. They have a number of high-first-round picks coming up and will be moving to Brooklyn shortly, so there is a draw for both stars to the big market.
But that’s in the offseason—right now there is a real push in Orlando to trade Howard now and get at least something in return for their franchise player.
Mavericks ownership and fans should be hoping Howard is traded anywhere before the trade deadline, except to the Nets, to give the Mavs their shot to court Howard and Williams on the open market.
Howard's list of team’s that he would be willing to play for was short when it was released earlier this year, including just the Lakers, Nets, Mavericks and Clippers. None of these teams, except for the Nets, have assets they are willing to trade or are good enough to trade for Howard before the deadline.
Other teams have approached the Magic with trade offers, including the Bulls, Warriors and Rockets, but these trades have stalled because of Howard’s unwillingness to sign an extension with those squads.
It seems as though Howard will be traded before the trade deadline, though, and as long as he ends up anywhere other than New Jersey, it will be a great sign for Dallas. But if he ends up in the Big Apple, the Mavs' plan of reloading with talent in the offseason will have to be reexamined.
For the sake of Dallas fans, they better hope Howard gets traded to any of the other 28 teams not named the Nets, or better yet ends up staying another unhappy half-season in Orlando before he reaches free agency. That way, Mark Cuban could swoop in and work his magic and have “Superman” possibly wearing a different blue at tipoff next season.