If the Dallas Mavericks aren't able to sign Deron Williams, maybe they can convince the Orlando Magic to send center Dwight Howard their way.
According to an NBA source, Howard would be the perfect consolation prize for the Mavs if they can't get Williams to return home and play for Dallas.
Howard met with the Magic over the weekend and expressed his desire to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets. But the Magic has no plans of meeting Howard's desire to play for the Nets.
Also on Monday, the Nets executed a trade with Atlanta that sent the expiring contracts of Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar, Jordan Williams and Johan Petro, a first-round pick, and DeShawn Stevenson to the Hawks in exchange for All-Star Joe Johnson.
Now, after meeting with Deron Williams on Monday, the Mavs and Nets are awaiting word from the free-agent point guard on which team he'll join. But whether Williams -- who is expected to make up his mind by Wednesday -- decides to return to his Dallas roots or re-sign with the Nets, the Mavericks might be in a win-win situation.
Because of Howard.
Last season when Howard asked the Magic to trade him, he wanted to be shipped, in order, to the Nets, Mavs or Los Angeles Lakers.
Because Brooklyn has agreed to a four-year, $40 million contract with Gerald Wallace -- along with being responsible for the remaining $90 million and four seasons on Johnson's contract -- the Nets will be deep into the luxury tax category if they sign Williams, who played at The Colony, and won't have the funds left to pay a player of Howard's caliber.
"That would put us back in the hunt," a Mavs source said, referring to the possible acquisition of Howard. "I don't know what we have to do to get him unless [the Magic] just say they're going to start over."
The source noted that the Mavs could send the Magic some combination of the expiring contracts of Rodrigue Beaubois, Vince Carter, Dominique Jones and Brandan Wright, and rookies Jared Cunningham, Bernard James and Jae Crowder, plus draft picks and involve Ian Mahinmi in a sign-and-trade for Howard.
"If we could do that, then we've made a big splash," the source said. "Because we've got to do something big."
When the Mavs started clearing cap space last off-season and allowing quality players such as Tyson Chandler, J.J. Barea, DeShawn Stevenson and Caron Butler to leave, the plan was to try and sign Howard and Williams when they became free agents this summer.
Howard, though, tossed a curveball into the mix in the spring when he opted in for another year on his contract with the Magic.
Now he wants the Magic to trade him.
Dallas seems like a likely destination, especially if the Magic starts dumping salaries to clear cap space so they can become a major player in next summer's free-agent class led by Chris Paul, Andrew Bynum, Josh Smith, Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and David West.
"They're probably going to take the Atlanta route, too, and just bite the bullet for a year, have just an average team and then have a bunch of money the following year to throw at some people," the source said.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760