Howard told Yahoo! Sports on Sunday night that he believes there is a “100 percent chance” the Magic won’t move him before Orlando hosts the All-Star weekend in late February and doubts that he’ll be dealt before the deadline. If Howard is right, it significantly increases the odds that the Mavs will land the big man and/or Nets point guard Deron Williams in free agency this summer.
The Mavericks join the Lakers and Nets as the three teams on Howard’s preferred trade destination list, with Howard’s agent Dan Fegan – who does a lot of business with Dallas – having permission from the Magic to explore options with those teams. However, the Mavs don’t have the assets to make an offer that would make sense for the Magic.
But the Mavs will have plenty of cap space to sign a superstar in the offseason. With some financial tinkering, which could include use of the amnesty clause and some salary-dumping trades like the one the Mavs made with Denver in December, the Mavs might be able to create enough room for Howard and Williams.
The worst-case scenario for the Mavs would be the Magic trading Howard to the Nets, which would likely mean that Howard and Williams will be featured on Brooklyn billboards for years to come.
Howard being dealt to the Lakers would be frightening from a Western Conference competition perspective, but that would at least mean The Colony’s Williams would likely seriously entertain the possibility of coming home in the summer.
If Howard stays put, anything seems possible for the Mavs once the free agency market opens.