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ESPNDallas.com's Tim McMahon reports that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban isn't planning on limiting himself to one superstar acquisition this summer; he has his eyes set on both Paul and Howard.
And Cuban's sales pitch to make that happen? Not far off from what L.A.'s been feeding Paul for two years.
"In essence, you get to come in and, it's you and we have room for two more max free agents (next year)," Cuban said. "The reality is you're going to work with us and Dirk (Nowitzki) to get out there and pick your team."
What's In It for CP3
Paul's going to be leaving money on the table if he goes to any team other than the Clippers, but the financial hit he'd take in Dallas wouldn't be quite as drastic. He'd still be limited in terms of years (four) and dollars ($80 million), but he could recoup some of those losses in a state that has no state income tax and no millionaire tax.
Cuban's deep pockets won't just be used as a negotiating ploy for Paul, but they could also combine with the point guard's arrival to form one heck of a bargaining chip. And even if Howard declines Dallas' offer, Paul and Cuban can attack the 2014 free-agent market after Nowtizki's promised "significant pay cut."
Paul would also be joining a franchise just two years removed from a championship season, with the same star player (Nowitzki) and the same head coach (Rick Carlisle) that keyed the title run.
How It Would Get Done
The Mavericks currently have a little more than $37 million in guaranteed salary for next season, meaning they might have enough to sign Paul outright depending on where the league places its salary cap.
But Dallas would rather bring him on through a sign-and-trade deal which would eliminate any cap concerns in the acquisition. If that doesn't work, the Mavericks might need to trade one of their guaranteed contracts to free up enough financial space.
Projected Starting Five
PG: Chris Paul
SG: Vince Carter*
SF: Shawn Marion
PF: Dirk Nowitzki
C: Chris Kaman
*Since he's one of the few Dallas players with a guaranteed contract for next season, Carter gets this spot for now. But the Mavericks could bring in a talented free agent (Andre Iguodala, Monta Ellis perhaps) or re-sign O.J. Mayo if they tie their financial futures to both Paul and Howard.
Stay Or Go?
While the Mavericks might have a better chance to land Paul than most media members are giving them credit for, there are still legitimate reasons why those analysts have their doubts about this actually taking place.
Paul would be taking a gigantic leap of faith by joining Dallas if Howard's not there to sign with him. Nowitzki, Carter and Marion are all playing in their twilight years, and sophomores-to-be Jae Crowder and Jared Cunningham are far from proven commodities.
So expect Paul to listen to whatever Cuban has to say, but also expect him to enter that meeting with serious reservations.