DALLAS — Truth be told, nothing makes my head spin more than the NBA Draft.College freshmen. Sons of shortstops. German point guards. Brazilian hairdos. Bad caps. Salary caps. Sign-and-trades. And if your team doesn’t hit the lottery, you wait. And more times than not, that’s when the circus really begins. The Dallas Mavericks began Thursday night’s draft with the No. 13 pick. Too high, too expensive, the Mavericks apparently said. So they traded that pick to Boston for the first round’s No. 16 pick. Still too pricey, the Mavericks said. So they traded again.In the NFL, teams regularly trade borderline veterans, glue-footed linemen and future draft picks for ... more draft picks. (See JONES, Jerry).In the NBA, teams seem to want no draft picks at all. Unless a guy is the next Kobe Bryant, there’s usually a taxi and a plane ticket waiting to whisk the draft choice to an apprenticeship in Croatia. Mais non! I have nothing against foreign NBA players. I’ve been to nine Summer Olympics. I saw Antoine Rigaudeau go for 29 one night against China.But I don’t subscribe to that DirecTV Israeli Basketball League package. If some NBA draft-nik blogs that Steven Adams is the best 7-footer ever from New Zealand, who am I to argue?Dwight Howard, however, I think I know. Big, whiny fella. But he is a rebounding machine. And the Mavericks can use a big rebounding machine, even one that needs to be oiled occasionally to keep from whining.Thus, if the purpose of the Mavericks’ draft maneuvering Thursday night was, as reported, an elaborate, multi-headed attempt to clear cap space or sofa space for big fella Howard, I get it. I get it, because even though I may no longer have Charles Barkley on speed dial, I could see that there were no Dwight Howards in this 2013 NBA Draft. Most professional sports owners — and some college football coaches, too, for that matter, I’m guessing — love salary caps. Salary caps supposedly level the playing field. Salary caps give owners “cost certainty.” Baseball could use one, frankly, but the Yankees would never allow it. The modern NBA salary cap began in 1984-85. Teams could spend $3.6 million on player salaries. That is not a misprint.The cap this season is $58 million, not counting the various clauses, loopholes and Bird exceptions. My head is started to spin again.For the Mavericks, the game plan Thursday apparently wasn’t to select the next Rolando Blackman, but rather to scour the payroll ledgers so that they could offer as much as possible to Howard.He wants out of Los Angeles, it was reported in depth Thursday by ESPN’s Chris Broussard. Apparently, playing on the world’s most popular basketball team was not enough to satisfy big fella Howard. According to Broussard, Howard didn’t like Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni’s Kobe-oriented system. Come to think of it, he didn’t like Kobe, either.The Houston Rockets, as well as the Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks, are said to be interested in Howard. The Rockets can offer a chance to play alongside James Harden with an up-and-coming young team. The Hawks can offer ... oh, never mind.With the Mavericks, Howard can be the main guy, the Superman, to Dirk Nowitzki’s Jimmy Olsen. Dirk doesn’t mind. The Mavericks have never had a big man such as Howard. True, Tyson Chandler helped win them a ring. But you’re talking about a franchise that once planted Shawn Bradley in the paint and called him its center.By dropping, as reported, from the 13th spot to the 18th, the Mavericks saved about $350,000 from its salary cap commitments. An expected trade of Shawn Marion would add another $9 million to the pile.If it eventually brings Howard, all the headaches and head spinning Thursday will be worth it. I think.
Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @gilebreton