Dwight Howard Should Sign with Mavericks to Enhance Title Hopes

Benjamin KleinContributor IIIJune 29, 2013

Nov 24, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard (12) warms up before the game against the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center. The Lakers defeated the Mavericks 115-89. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

If Dwight Howard wants to win a ring, his next destination needs to be Dallas.

The Mavericks are one of several teams pursuing the free-agent center, and with Chris Broussard of ESPN reporting that Howard won’t return to the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas becomes an instant favorite:

Dallas has been doing everything in its power to open up enough cap room to sign the big man and had a great night on Thursday at the draft. The Mavericks opened up $1.09 million in cap space by making a few trades, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas.

MacMahon reported that the Mavericks still need $2.73 million more space in order to offer Howard a max deal that would pay him $20.51 million in his first year. That money, however, could come available if Shawn Marion exercises his early termination option and becomes a free agent, per MacMahon.

That’s the best-case scenario for the Mavs right now.

And if Marion decides to become a free agent and then re-signs for less money, that’ll be even better. Marion has to know how important Howard is to Dallas’ future, and doing the right thing could secure him another championship ring.

The Mavericks need Howard on the roster to become one of the favorites in the Western Conference. Dirk Nowitzki has been forced to do much of the hard work by himself over the last few years and needs another star by his side. Nowitzki spoke highly of the free agent in a conversation with MacMahon.

Here’s what Nowitzki said of Howard:

He’s just weighing out his options. I’m sure he has a couple of meetings set up for whenever that might be in early July. Hopefully the Mavs are one of those teams, and we’ll go from there.

To me, when he’s healthy, he’s the most dominant big man in the league. He showed it at the end of the season when he was right and what he can still do and can dominate on both ends of the floor if he’s healthy. He can still use his athleticism. He’s a beast on both ends of the floor. I’d like to play with a guy you can throw the ball in the post and I’ll just be out there spreading the floor. On the defensive end of the floor, a guy who can protect the rim like that is obviously a luxury.

We’d love to have him, but so would the other teams with cap room, which is a couple. We’ll just wait and see what happens.

Dallas would have one of the top frontcourts in the league if Howard were to sign with the Mavericks, especially if Marion comes back too. Dallas has a lot of players hitting the free-agent market this summer but should be in good shape for next season.

Here’s a look at the potential starting lineup with Howard in the fold:

  • Point Guard: Shane Larkin or restricted free agent Darren Collison
  • Shooting Guard: Vacant—potentially unrestricted free agent O.J. Mayo
  • Small Forward: Marion if he returns or Vince Carter
  • Power Forward: Nowitzki
  • Center: Howard

With so many veterans in the rotation, the team could compete for the title immediately. Larkin will need experience but will flourish with two dynamic options on the low block. And the defense would improve with Howard blocking shots underneath the rim.

Here’s how the proposed starting rotation produced this past season:

That starting lineup has the potential to score more than 75 points per night, leaving little work for the players coming off the bench. If that’s not going to lead to a high playoff seed and a deep postseason run, I don’t know what will.

Dallas would be a serious contender with Howard on the payroll.

The Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs will be the two toughest teams to overcome in the West, but both are beatable. The Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets could also be legitimate next season, but Dallas would outmatch them.

Howard to Dallas makes all the difference in the world for the team’s title hopes.

While other teams will throw millions of dollars at Howard, Dallas is the only organization that can pay him and help him earn his first championship ring. There’s not much more the free-agent big man can ask for.

He has to join the Mavericks.