Theoretically, the Dallas Mavericks have the money to offer Los Angeles Lakers free agent center Dwight Howard a four-year, $88 million contract.
Howard is the most coveted player in this summer’s free agent class and has narrowed his choices to the Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, Golden State Warriors, Mavs and Lakers.
The free agency period starts at 11:01 p.m. CDT on Sunday, and a Mavs contingent led by owner Mark Cuban and forward Dirk Nowitzki will meet with Howard and his representatives in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
“The time is here to make some noise,” said Nowitzki, who turned 35 last month. “We only have five guys or six guys under contract, so we got a lot of work to do.”
A lot of that work would become easier if the Mavs can secure Howard who, when healthy, is the game’s most dominant center.
“We’re going to LA and set a meeting date with a couple of different players,” Cuban said. “And I’m not going to get into details of who, when, where and how, because then you guys would show up and that would ruin the day.”
Nowitzki has already reached out to the former three-time Defensive Player of the Year.
“He’s doing well,” Nowitzki said. “I guess he’s just weighing all his options.
“He didn’t really say anything that was newsworthy. You have to wait until he makes his final decision and then I’ll get excited or I’ll be down.”
The Mavs are about $2 million away from reaching the $88 million mark it’ll take to obtain Howard. But they already have players on their roster in place to waive/renounce/trade in order to obtain the remaining funds.
On Sunday, the Mavs did not make qualifying offers to Darren Collison and Rodrigue Beaubois, and they didn’t decide what to do with Bernard James, Jae Crowder and Josh Akognon. The contracts of James and Akognon are not guaranteed for the 2013-14 season, but unless they are renounced, they will count on the salary cap.
In addition, the Mavs are expecting Shawn Marion to opt in to a contract that will pay him $9.3 million next season. Meanwhile, Brandan Wright will still count against the Mavs’ cap until he signs with another team.
Howard is the player at the top of the Mavs’ wish-list. But they also don’t want to lose out on some of the other high-caliber free agents while they’re chasing Howard.
“There’s plenty of other options out there, I think, that we can plug holes with really, really good players,” Nowitzki said. “Not superstars, but really good players and still be a playoff team.
“If that’s the route we have to take if Dwight says no, I think Mark and [president of basketball operations] Donnie [Nelson] will find the right mix of guys and we’ll have to wait and see.”