Could the Dallas Mavericks be the ideal place for the two top free agents this offseason? Dwight Howard has given no indication that he will stay with the Los Angeles Lakers. Chris Paul is reportedly upset with Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. Can Mark Cuban, Rick Carlisle, and Dirk Nowitzki finally get the top free agent they have wanted since 2011?
After the Mavs won the 2011 NBA Championship, the front office began their plan to rebuild for the future. The lockout was looming and owner Mark Cuban was determined to be ahead of the curve in avoiding a steep luxury tax. While Dallas was looking for players, Chris Paul was looking for a new team. The Mavericks hoped the possibility of playing with a legend like Jason Kidd would be a benefit, but they knew getting Chris Paul out of New Orleans would require a trade to big for them. Dirk getting traded was not an option. We all know how the scenario played out with Paul making it to LA, but not with the Lakers. Now after two seasons, two abrupt ends in the first round of the playoffs, and no named head coach, Chris Paul is now able to go wherever he pleases with no trade needed.
Dwight Howard’s voyage to LA is similar, but when he arrived he realized that the bright lights of LakerNation can cause sun burn. A coaching change within the first month of the season took Dwight from the future of the franchise to an expendable rent-a-player. Mike D’Antoni has never coached a low post player that requires the ball. Kobe Bryant will be rehabbing his Achilles tendon for the majority of next season, which means Howard will have to shoulder LakerNation on his own. As he has stated before, he will keep his options open and I can’t say that I blame him.
Both players find themselves in the most unique position in all of sports when it comes to contracts- a “do-over”. A chance to do it all over again. A chance to take a second look at a contract decision with the option to stay or go to a different team within two years or less. This is what Mark Cuban was expecting and planning for. Free agents having the ability to make any team an instant championship contender by making their own decision where they want to play.
Lately, the talk about Dwight seriously considering going to the Houston Rockets with James Harden combined with grumblings that Chris Paul is upset with Donald Sterling for placing blame on him for the firing of head coach Vinny Del Negro has sparked the ultimate hypothetical scenario of the offseason. Will Dwight and Chris team up together? A better question is why not? Who better to lob the ball the Howard in the paint than Chris Paul? Who better to run the pick-and-roll or the inside-outside game with than Chris Paul and Dwight Howard?
What better place for the two players to land than in Dallas? Utah and Atlanta have a lot of cap room, but Dwight doesn’t want to return home just yet and neither team has Dirk Nowitzki on the roster. The Atlanta Hawks don’t have a head coach and the Mavericks have a top 5 coach in the league with Rick Carlisle. If Rick Carlisle could take Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler to the finals, what could he do with Chris Paul and Dwight Howard?
You could make the argument that both players would enjoy working for Mark Cuban. Howard and Paul have both had their issues with owners, GMs, and coaches in the past. Cuban is widely reagrding as the pro-player owner. From locker room amenities to travel and accommodations, Cuban has gone out of his way to make this a place for stars to shine.
Last, there is the Nowitzki factor. No other team, outside of Houston potentially, could add Paul and Howard to form a “Big 3″. Like the Miami Heat in 2010, adding the the top two free agents with your current superstar makes you the elite. The result of having a “Big 3″ is three trips to the NBA Finals and a title. It also worked out for the Boston Celtics with two trips to the NBA finals and a title. Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, and Dirk Nowitzki could be next.
Follow Rodney Fisher on twitter @RodneyRFisher