Check your rear-view mirror, Los Angeles. Dallas is coming up fast.
In one fell swoop, the Mavs have parlayed incumbent Josh Howard into All-Star caliber Caron Butler and shot-blocker Brendan Haywood, enabling the Mavs to match up against L.A. better than any other team in the west.
ESPN has reported that an agreement between Dallas and Washington is in place and ready to be consummated Monday. Dallas will send injury-prone Josh Howard, veteran Drew Gooden and a bit player yet to be named to Washington in exchange for Butler, Haywood, and DeShawn Stevensen.
Cuban availed himself of the Wizards' desperation to clean house this season after the franchise's ugly publicity involving Gilbert Arenas. Howard and Gooden's contracts both expire this summer, expediting the Wizards' rebuilding process while still keeping 20-10 man Antawn Jamison.
Dallas meanwhile, is suddenly able to throw any combination on the floor to combat the mighty Lakers. If the Lakers go big with Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, and Lamar Odom, the Mavs can now respond with Butler, Haywood and Dirk Nowitzki.
If L.A. goes smaller with Gasol, Odom, and Ron Artest, Dallas can answer with Nowitzki, Butler, and Shawn Marion.
The deal still leaves Dallas with some flexibility in the offseason, as Haywood's contract, worth over $6 million, comes off the books this summer.
The question now is whether this will send other Western Conference teams into a trading frenzy.
In the 2007-08 season, the Lakers fleeced Memphis of Pau Gasol, compelling the Suns (Shaquille O'Neal for Shawn Marion) and Dallas (Jason Kidd for Devin Harris) to hit the panic button in an effort to match up.
The Suns are in the middle of the rumor mill, with half the league mentioned as possible destinations for All-Star Amare Stoudemire. While it's doubtful Phoenix would trade him to a team in their conference, a three-way deal that returns young talent and/or draft picks could land more power to an already powerful conference.
Just as Dallas is attempting to put itself level with the Lakers, Eastern Conference teams are likewise trying to catch up to Cleveland.
Miami is aggressively pursuing Stoudemire, but needs a third team to give Phoenix the assets they covet.
Boston, ailing and injured, was trying to broker a deal with the Wizards involving Ray Allen, but it looks as though the Dallas deal (which didn't include Jamison), was more appealing.
Does Boston still end up dealing Allen (and his albatross of an expiring contract) to another team for rejuvenating parts? Or do they hope their health and mojo return?
The Bulls are apparently through dealing with Tyrus Thomas and his emotional escapades, and are listening to all offers for him. The Sixers, meanwhile, have explored all options that include dealing Andre Iguodala and/or Samuel Dalembert in an effort for financial flexibility.
While much is still smoke and mirrors, much will be revealed over the next six days, including the league's reaction Dallas' coup.