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Mavs agree to terms with free-agent forward Juwan Howard

DALLAS -- The Dallas Mavericks are bringing back
Juwan Howard after agreeing to terms with the veteran forward on Tuesday.

Howard, who played for Dallas during parts of the 2000-01 and
'01-02 seasons, can't sign with the Mavericks until he clears
waivers Wednesday, the same day Dallas plays its season opener at
Cleveland.

"Any time you can pick up a guy with his skill set and
experience, it's a no-brainer," Donnie Nelson, president of
basketball operations, told The Associated Press. "When this
opportunity came up, it was too good to pass up."

Nelson noted Howard's leadership and playoff experience.

"We're very familiar with him, being a former Maverick, and he
can hit the ground running. The experience, his versatility and his
professionalism are the things that really separate him," Nelson
said.

Howard is expected to play immediately.

"You can never have enough depth at the front-line positions,"
Nelson said. "He provides something different from what we have.
He's a guy that can extend the defense with his mid-range jump
shot."

Howard and the Minnesota Timberwolves agreed to a buyout Monday,
and the Cavaliers were among the teams interesting in signing him.

Center Erick Dampier and swingman Devean George won't play in
the Mavericks' season opener because of injuries.

To make room for Howard, the Mavericks waived center DJ Mbenga.

Mbenga averaged 1.3 points and 0.9 rebounds in 79 games the past
three seasons for the Mavericks. The 7-footer played only 21 games
last season before tearing ligaments in his right knee Feb. 7. He
played in only one preseason game, and had five rebounds and two
blocked shots in 12 minutes.

"DJ needs an opportunity to play and develop," Nelson said in
a story on the team's Web site. "We're hopeful that with playing
time, whether it's in the NBA or Europe, he'll be able to join our
team in the future."

Also Tuesday, the Mavs exercised their 2008-09 contract option
on second-year guard Maurice Ager, their first-round pick in 2006.
Only the first two years of a first-round draft pick's contract are
guaranteed, while the third and fourth years are team options.

Ager averaged 2.2 points while playing 6.7 minutes a game in 32
games a rookie last season.