Dallas Mavericks Have Reportedly Given Up on Chris Paul to Pursue Dwight Howard

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIMay 24, 2013

SAN ANTONIO, TX - APRIL 24:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts after being fouled against the San Antonio Spurs during Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on April 24, 2013 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks figure to have a lot of roster turnover with several impending free agent departures, but that also gives them flexibility on the open market.

In their efforts to land a marquee star this offseason, the Mavs have reportedly shied away from pursuing Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul in favor of Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard.

Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram broke the news on Friday. What led to this development was the notion that Paul had a hand in the Clippers not offering head coach Vinny Del Negro a new contract. Dallas felt its chances of landing Howard were better in that context, per Price's source:

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.

Stellar point guards are somewhat hard to come by, and it's a position with incredible star power and depth around the league. However, the Mavericks are intent on pursuing a player such as sixth men Jarrett Jack of the Golden State Warriors or Jerryd Bayless of the Memphis Grizzlies to fill that need, according to the report.

With regard to Howard, it makes a lot of sense for Dallas to covet him. Rick Carlisle's squad finished 27th in the league in yielding 101.7 points per contest and lacked a strong interior defender.

In the two campaigns since winning the NBA Finals, the franchise was swept in the opening round as a No. 7 seed and failed to make the playoffs in 2012-13. A lot of that has had to do with the inability to stop opponents in the deep Western Conference.

Establishing a more defensive identity is key for the Mavs, and Howard is the prototypical centerpiece to build around in that regard. Chris Kaman, Brandan Wright and Bernard James comprise all the centers Dallas has, and all are due to be free agents, per spotrac.com.

Price also reports that the Mavs are openly shopping their No. 13 overall pick in the NBA draft in an effort to open up more room and enhance their pitch for Howard.

That seems like a necessary action to take, considering USA Today's Sam Amick reported earlier in the week that Howard is torn between returning to the City of Angels and going to another Texas squad—the Rockets—to play with superstar SG James Harden.

The Lakers have leverage in that they can sign Howard to a maximum of five years and $118 million. Since Dallas is a new prospective suitor, it can only extend a four-year, $87 million offer.

Howard had a turbulent year as a Laker and battled through injuries throughout, but still notched 17.1 points, 12.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. Should he play for the Mavs, whose frontcourt is thin at the moment, those numbers should only go up—especially since the 27-year-old will be healthier.

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/2013/05/22/4877736/mavericks-are-preparing-hot-pursuit.html#storylink=cpy