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Could the Dallas Mavericks Land Chris Paul and Dwight Howard?

Updated on May 26, 2013
Mark Cuban
Mark Cuban | Source

The free agency crop at an initial glance figures to be loaded with veteran talent. There is no shortage of teams that could position themselves to make one or two big moves. Among the favorites is the Dallas Mavericks. Their owner Mark Cuban is never shy about spending money if its worth the investment. Would he sign off on an aggressive play for point guard Chris Paul and center Dwight Howard.

The Dirk Nowitzki factor

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One thing potentially standing in the way of a real Dallas free agent run is their longtime superstar Dirk Nowitzki. The future Hall of Fame power forward eats up a lot of their salary cap next season with $22 million on the payroll. Any Maverick fan would say its money well spent but since he turns 36 this year and his place in history is secure, his goal at this point should be about winning another championship. So would the veteran consider taking a pay cut? News broke earlier in the month the team leader was "very open" to the idea.

As it stands the Mavericks will sit about $22 million under the soft salary cap next year. Given how the new Collective Bargaining Agreement has created much stiffer luxury tax penalties for teams who go over it, that means if Dallas wanted to sign a another star to a max contract they could. However, if Dirk took say a $10 million pay cut that would give the Mavericks enough space to sign two max contracts and still have enough space left over to fill out the rest of the roster with good depth.

Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers in real binds

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Two players that will play big roles in how the market shapes up are Howard and Paul. Arguably the best at their respective positions, both have been in the NBA for between 7 and 9 years. That means they will command a contract of $11 million in 2013-2014. For the Los Angeles Lakers this is not good news. They already sit well over the salary cap and face a stiff luxury tax fine. To top it off they aren't sure when Kobe Bryant will return healthy from his Achilles injury. So when Howard announced he might exercise his right to leave next year for a team that fits him better, it set off alarms in the Laker fan base. Losing Howard would completely blow up their teams' plans for the future and force them to start from scratch with a roster that won't see a first round pick this season because of trades.

The Los Angeles Clippers meanwhile should have the money to bring back Paul. A lingering question is does he want to come back? The team clearly runs through his wide skill set but after the firing of head coach Vinny Del Negro there is an element of unknown surrounding the Clippers that veteran players don't like. Two-straight early playoff exist only make that worse. A lot of people thought this season was the one where the Clippers would take that next step. Instead they bowed out in the first round to a Memphis Grizzlies team that is about to get swept by the San Antonio Spurs. So how good is Los Angeles really? Paul may not want to stick around and find out. His quest for a ring is entering its eighth season. He might want to join a franchise that has the blueprint to win one.

The power of Big Threes

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Over the past five seasons a major truth has asserted itself around the NBA. The best teams are formed around a trio of stars. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with the Miami Heat are obviously the standard being the defending champions. Then again, the team that brought that strategy back to the forefront were the Boston Celtics when they teamed Kevin Garnett with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. It won't guarantee a championship but it will offer plenty of chances.

So what would a Nowitzki, Paul, and Howard trio look like? A diverse, dangerous combination if anything. As a floor general Paul would have his pick of plays to run what with Howard commanding attention in the paint and Nowitzki still a dangerous threat from anywhere on the court. For an idea of what their impact would've looked like this season, here is what their collective efforts showed on average during the regular season: 50 points, 19 rebounds, 12 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. It's also worth noting Howard and Nowitzki both played much of the season hurt. Getting that kind of production from three starters every night is something teams can only hope for. If Dallas could then add a scorer in the draft their starting lineup along with Shawn Marion (12 points and 7 rebounds in '12-'13) would look as formidable as any in the league, let alone the Western Conference.

It is just a question of money and of negotiations.

Who should the Dallas Mavericks go after in free agency?

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    • EJ Lambert profile image
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      EJ Lambert 4 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Thanks, prospect. I think Dirk is still a credible offensive threat though he can't move like he used to. Putting Paul in the back court and Howard down low would instantly lift his burden of responsibility. I genuinely think that is a trio that could compliment each other very well.

    • prospectboy profile image

      Bradrick H. 4 years ago from Texas

      Cuban has dug himself in a hole in my opinion. He got rid of some talented players years back in favor of Dirk. The team they won the title with back in 2011 was a team built strictly for that. That was a one and done team. Howard might be a good fit in Dallas. They're lacking badly in interior defense and rebounding. I'd hate to see Chris Paul leave the Clippers, but then again this is a business. If Paul and Howard do decide to join Nowitzki, it would make Dallas a solid team again. But all this players joining up stuff has the tendency to backfire. Nice analysis. Voted up, rated interesting.

    • EJ Lambert profile image
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      EJ Lambert 4 years ago from Chicago, IL

      No doubt in my mind.

    • Stevennix2001 profile image

      Steven Escareno 4 years ago

      i personally would hate to see chris paul leave the clippers because it seems they have a nice nucleus there, but you're right. the coaching situation there might cause him to leave for dallas, and if that happens, they'll be a force to be reckoned with.

    • EJ Lambert profile image
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      EJ Lambert 4 years ago from Chicago, IL

      I'm not complaining about that. People don't understand the Bulls have drafted well since Michael left in 1998. The problem is they failed to find anybody who could replace Phil Jackson. Coaching has been our missing link. Now we have it.

    • dontaytte profile image

      dontaytte 4 years ago from Palos Hills

      The problem is that the players run the league. When they don't like the team that they are playing for they ask for a trade to another team. They want max contracts, but when the team can't afford to add players around them then they want to leave. The three teams that you will see contending for championships in the future all do it by drafting well and developing talent. That is the Bulls, Thunder, and the Pacers.

    • EJ Lambert profile image
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      EJ Lambert 4 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Amen. People wonder why the NFL is kicking the hell out of everyone else. It's because of parity. Every team isn't constrained by max contracts and soft caps. There's a hard cap and they're allowed to spend whatever money they can to get a superstar player. That's why players don't really consider joining forces simply because it doesn't work that way.

    • dontaytte profile image

      dontaytte 4 years ago from Palos Hills

      Players joining forces are coward moves. When you look at the what Miami did it was great for them, but they are a team with a who's fan base is suspect at best. Lucky for Cleveland they the number one pick again. And what about the Raptors.New Orleans is dead without Paul. The smartest team through all of this had to be the Denver Nuggets who came away with a starting 5 from their superstar leaving. 90% off NBA lose money each year so how long can teams without a superstar last.