Sources: Mavs targeting Samuel Dalembert

The Mavericks are trying to acquire a tag-team partner for big man Brendan Haywood.

The pie-in-the-sky scenario is landing All-NBA center Dwight Howard, but the Mavs’ immediate goal is much more realistic. Sources told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein that the Mavs are attempting to land Samuel Dalembert with the trade exception they received in the Tyson Chandler sign-and-trade with the Knicks.

It would be a sign-and-trade deal with the Sacramento Kings. While it’s not immediately clear what the Kings would want in return, they are known to covet outgoing Mavs guard J.J. Barea. The Mavs hope to convince athletic, 6-foot-11 Dalembert to accept a lucrative one-year offer.

Dalembert averaged 8.1 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 24.2 minutes per game for the Kings last season, numbers that are very close to the norm for him during his nine-year career.

While the Mavs have permission to talk to Howard’s agent, it’s extremely unlikely that they’ll be able to make a deal for him even with the large trade exception as an asset. Acquiring Dalembert on a one-year deal would give the Mavs a solid, starting-caliber replacement for Chandler while allowing them to maintain enough cap space to be major bidders in 2012 free agency, when Howard and point guards Chris Paul and Deron Williams headline the market.

Sources say that the Houston Rockets are the Mavericks’ toughest competition for Dalembert. The Rockets are likely to offer a multi-year deal to Dalembert that would trump Dallas’ offer, but Houston’s first choice is trying to sign Denver Nuggets center Nene.

The Rockets want to pair Nene with Pau Gasol, whom they’d acquire from the Los Angeles Lakers if the three-team Chris Paul trade is ultimately approved by the league. If the Rockets don’t get Nene, they could well turn to Dalembert, with whom they met face-to-face early in free agency.