Outside the Box: Rocket Launched

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on June 13, 2013 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment


This week, The Two Man Game will start looking at what the Mavs could do as another pivotal summer is upon them. Mark Cuban has said there are different ways or “permutations” to ensure the Mavs won’t have a failure of a summer if they are unable to land a big fish acquisition.

Dirk Nowitzki said Cuban is “all-in” on this summer, and committed to bringing the franchise back to where it belongs. There are traditional ways to do that but there are also outside the box ways of doing that. We’ll look at five potential angles the Mavs could work that would be considered outside the box.

There is a big fish in Dwight Howard that has mainly been linked to three teams: the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks. While both Dallas and Houston have been linked, Los Angeles is still in the driver’s seat when it comes to landing Howard as they have the extra year and nearly $30 million dollars that they can offer the prized big man.

The one thing that Houston has on their side is a situation that’s suited for Howard to where he can slide right in and join a team that is already built to make a run in the playoffs. He would just be a major enhancement. It would be a situation where he’s going to help build something, not fix it.

Cuban spoke to ESPN Dallas in May and suggested that the fifth year doesn’t sound as appealing as it may seem.

“In terms of that fifth year, that really is overrated from the perspective that if he’s young enough, he’s going to get another contract or two. When you sit down with them and say that there might be the issue of this contract ends before we can opt out of this current CBA. That may sound silly since we just signed a new CBA two years ago, but the ability for the league to opt out after six years means a five-year contract signed now puts you other side of that CBA, which may not be a good thing. You may want to be in a position where you want to sign another long-term deal before the NBA has the option to opt out of this CBA. I’m not suggesting that anything is going to happen with this CBA, but it’s just something to consider. On the second side of that, you’re young enough to get another contract.

“The third point, look at what LeBron [James], Kevin Durant, [Chris] Bosh and all those guys did. They all signed deals with opt-outs after three years, so there’s plenty of precedent. It’s not like all of these guys have to have that fifth year. A lot of them look at the flexibility and the options, and they have enough confidence in their ability to get that next contract. They have enough confidence in their ability to find insurance contracts in case they get hurt.”

Even with the health concerns of this past season, Howard is still young enough to earn another max deal. Again, if the fifth year is off the table, Houston once again seems like the best fit. If that is the case and Howard says he’ll go to the other Texas team in the running, Dallas can swoop in and tell Houston that they’ll help facilitate acquiring Howard.

Houston still needs to create wiggle room to make a max offer to Howard. It’s likely that they would need to find a trade partner to unload either Jeremy Lin or Omer Asik to a team with cap space. While the Mavs do need a point guard, a defensive minded center at a great value is much more intriguing.

Dallas certainly has the space to absorb Asik. With him being the main piece coming to Dallas, there are so many options to make it work. The Mavs could absorb him outright with cap space. If Houston didn’t want to just dump Asik, the Mavs could offer Shawn Marion and the Rockets then could pursue find a suitor for Jeremy Lin as they continue trying to find a way to creating the space to land Howard.

If bigger options simply don’t figure to work out, including Asik, the Mavs could simply inquire about Thomas Robinson. He’s clearly an asset the Rockets are looking to unload as they continue to create the wiggle room. It appears that Robinson could be shifting to his third team in only two years. While the Mavs don’t have a draft history that makes people queasy, they do have a history of acquiring players that were once lottery selections and making the most out of them. Robinson, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2012 draft, would certainly be another experiment for them.

There is danger in participating in the Rockets’ pursuit of Howard. There is the potential of building a juggernaut by being a partner with them. That shouldn’t be the mindset of the Mavs’ front office. Whenever you’re making a deal, your sole purpose is to find a situation that makes your team better. Whether it’s via giving up cap space or letting go of an asset, if you’re making your team better, that’s fine (no matter what byproduct comes of your transactions).

Dallas and Houston will be in the running for Dwight Howard. The Mavs would be in a position to improve if they were to pull the rabbit out of their hat and snag him. They would just as easily be in a position to improve if the Rockets come out victorious, even if it does present strange bedfellows.

Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He also attended Ball So Hard University, studying ideologies of Clark Kent. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.