Can Mavericks still acquire Dwight Howard?


D12 could want to escape Kobe

MacMahon By Tim MacMahon

This is a really tough time for Dirk Nowitzki. His Mavericks have lost nine of 10 games, his League Pass subscription is on the fritz, and his computer is broken.

I can't confirm Dirk's technological troubles, but that's the only reasonable explanation for the one thing he said Saturday night that I could strongly debate.

"Why would he leave the Lakers?" Nowitzki said, referring to Dwight Howard, of course. "To me, it makes no sense. He's in a great situation."

Sure, it looked like a great situation on paper when Howard arrived in L.A. But it's been a disaster.

And that's where the Mavs' hope of landing Howard, faint as it may be, lies. They need his L.A. experience to be absolutely miserable. They need the childlike big man to keep conflicting with Kobe Bryant, the NBA's most ruthless superstar.

So far, so bad.

The Lakers have gone from preseason Western Conference favorite to midseason laughingstock. They're a few games under .500, and their record isn't likely to improve while Howard misses at least a week or two due to a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

Let's say the Lakers, the most hyped collection of talent west of Miami in years, manage to miss the playoffs or even get booted in the first round. You know there's going to be a scapegoat. And it ain't gonna be Kobe.

Maybe it's coach Mike D'Antoni, who took the job after the Lakers fired Mike Brown five games into the season. But that's not really sexy. And Steve Nash is too nice a guy to make a good scapegoat.

Howard, who staged a season-long PR mess in his final season with the Orlando Magic, is a villain straight out of central casting.

The hope in Dallas, as twisted as it sounds, is that Howard can't wait to escape the L.A. spotlight and Kobe's wrath this summer, when D12 can become a free agent.

If that happens, assuming the Mavs don't make a trade that sacrifices their cap space, they'll be waiting with a max offer for Howard. So will his hometown Hawks and a few other teams, but let's not sweat the small stuff right now.

They still have a chance at Howard. It's a half-court heave with a hand in their face, but it's a chance.

Why would Howard leave Lakers?

Wade By Jeff Wade

Who first said, "Hope is not a strategy"?

Lombardi? Malcolm X? The Fonz?

Not sure of the origins, but it's clearly what Dirk Nowitzki was reaffirming in regards to signing Dwight Howard this offseason in his exclusive one-on-one with Timmy Mac after the Dallas Mavericks' loss to New Orleans.

I've been a supporter of the Mavericks' plan to not bring back several members from the 2010-11 championship team so they can try to have the flexibility to acquire a player better than or equal to Dirk. And when they committed to that approach, three superstars -- D12, Chris Paul and Deron Williams -- were expected to be available this past summer.

When they got there, however, D-Will was the only one available -- and he stayed put in Brooklyn.

Now the Mavs are 13-22 and things look really bleak. That is, unless you're one of the folks closely monitoring Howard's apparent unhappiness (and torn labrum) in L.A. Those folks have hope that Dwight might come to Dallas because things aren't working out with the Lakers.

I'm not one of them. And neither is Dirk.

That was my opinion the day the Lakers acquired D12 via trade, and that remains my opinion today. With the way the CBA is structured, the only way it makes sense for a superstar player to leave the team that has his Bird rights and turn down far more guaranteed money is if he is in a horrible basketball situation. I personally don't think this Lakers scenario will ever get that bad, no matter how much of a big ole meanie Kobe Bryant is. And neither does Dirk.

"We hoped for Dwight," Nowitzki said. "Why would he leave the Lakers? To me, it makes no sense. He's in a great situation."

The Lakers have been a huge disappointment this season, but their situation is far from a horrible basketball scene. In fact, despite all the panic, the Lakers are a mere four games below .500. That qualifies as an irreparable disaster? Seriously?

My money is still on Steve Nash (in a Mike D'Antoni system, no less) making it work for Dwight. I'm not even talking about winning a championship. I'm just talking about making basketball tolerable enough for Dwight to live in L.A. surrounded by celebrities and the lifestyle he craves and to make the most money possible under the CBA.

To acquire D12, that's what Dallas is up against. It's why I think the Mavs don't really stand a chance.

Apparently, neither does Dirk.


Ben & Skin: Exclusive Dirk Nowitzki audio

Dirk Nowitzki talks candidly with ESPN Dallas' Tim MacMahon about his emotions concerning the Dallas Mavericks after a frustrating loss to the New Orleans Hornets.

Ben & Skin: Dirk Nowitzki Talk

Ben and Skin react to Dirk Nowitzki's exclusive one-on-one with ESPN Dallas' Tim MacMahon and play the audio.

Ben & Skin: Marc Stein

Marc Stein of joins Ben and Skin to talk about Dirk Nowitzki's current mindset.