Impending free agent Dwight Howard has been torn between returning to the Los Angeles Lakers or signing with the Houston Rockets, as reported by Sam Amick of USA Today. However, the Dallas Mavericks franchise reportedly is positioning itself for a big push to sign the center this offseason, according to Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Despite the Mavs' reported interest, Howard should not consider a move to Dallas.
After the nightmare that was the 2012-13 season with the aging Lakers, Howard must see the collective age of the Mavericks roster—six players over 30 last year—and spurn the team for the more appealing options on the table.
Price’s report claims that Dallas’ offseason free-agent hunt will now be focused on Howard instead of Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul:
I think Chris Paul, depending on who [the Clippers] hire, is going to stay with the Clippers. The Mavericks are really interested in Chris Paul, but I think they want Dwight more. They think they can make them a point guard…They’re trying to go after [Howard] pretty hard. They think they’ve got as good enough of a chance as anybody, but I think Houston is a better fit for him.
For the Mavericks, seeing the writing on the wall about Paul staying in Los Angeles shows the savvy of the franchise, and pursuing the talented center instead is the smart backup plan.
While it’s the right move for the franchise, it’s not the right fit for the player.
Dallas would offer Howard a chance to be the featured star of the team, with current No. 1 player Dirk Nowitzki aging and heading toward the final stage of his career. The same can be said about the Lakers with Kobe Bryant, but Howard is great right now and should be the star of a team immediately.
In Houston, Howard wouldn’t play second fiddle to James Harden.
Howard made it clear during his time with the Orlando Magic that he wanted to play for a major-market team, but the way his season in a city like Los Angeles went, there should be no questioning that signing in a place with less pressure may be appealing once again.
Dallas may not be a prototypical basketball town, but with an owner as outspoken as Mark Cuban has been during his time in the NBA, an old roster and the expectations coming from the franchise’s 2011 championship, the spotlight would burn bright on Howard.
After watching how the center handled the pressure of impending free agency and the transition to the Lakers, a move to a smaller market with less pressure like Houston is Howard’s best option on paper.
Let’s hope this doesn’t become another Dwightmare.