Mavs out of luck if Dwight Howard traded soon?

If Dwight Howard is dead set on leaving the Magic's small (market) world ASAP, as reports suggest, and Orlando grants his wish, it's hard to find the happily-ever-after ending for the Dallas Mavericks.

That's the picture Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi painted Tuesday morning during an appearance on ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike in the Morning." If you thought D12 got what he wanted with Monday's news of coach Stan Van Gundy's firing and the franchise parting with general manager Otis Smith, it might come as a surprise then that Bianchi suggested that Howard could be traded before the June 28 draft.

Bianchi believes the Magic will first ask Howard for a long-term commitment. If the game's top (and seemingly profoundly confused) center says no thanks, then Bianchi thinks the Magic will act quickly to move him out to spare the club and its fan base another derailing, drama-filled season.

If Orlando again begins to solicit trade offers for its statuesque big man coming off back surgery just a month ago -- while also likely looking to unload the egregious Hedo Turkoglu contract (two years, $23.6 million) -- what's the Mavs' best offer?

Think the Magic jump at Brendan Haywood, Lamar Odom's partially guaranteed contract, Shawn Marion, Brandan Wright, Rodrigue Beaubois and whoever else the Mavs might want to throw in?

Not likely (and it's here where speculation can run wild that re-signing Tyson Chandler might have made the Mavs a more prominent player in a potential deal).

Howard has been adamant that he wants to play for the Brooklyn Nets. That's presumably because of his desire (or is it adidas' desire?) to play in a large market where his superstardom can really shine, and his arrival would almost certainly convince All-Star point guard and free-agent-to-be Deron Williams to sign long-term in the borough. If the Nets get a top-three pick in the draft lottery May 30, they'll keep their protected pick from the Gerald Wallace deadline deal, a golden nugget to toss into a package to Orlando.

The Nets, with restricted free-agent center Brook Lopez, and the Los Angeles Lakers, with center Andrew Bynum or power forward Pau Gasol as prime bait, are the top contenders to deal for Dwight now.

The Mavs simply are not.

Dallas' best hope would be that the Magic are desperate to trade Howard out of the Eastern Conference and can't work out a deal with the Lakers. The worst-case scenario, obviously, would be for Orlando to deal him to Brooklyn, effectively (presumably) taking the Mavs out of the running for D-Will and leaving Mark Cuban and Dirk Nowitzki staring into an uneasy future.