Report: Mavericks interested in Dwight Howard, but not at max he seeks

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Dwight Howard is going to opt out of the last year of his contract with the Rockets and become a free agent this summer — and make no mistake, the man wants to get PAID.

As in he wants a max contract, which for him will start north of $30 million a year under the spiked NBA salary cap that will jump by more than $20 million a team this summer (thank you new television deal!).

The Dallas Mavericks will be among the teams interested in Howard, but that price tag is making them balk, reports Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

Sources says the Mavericks’ interest in Dwight Howard as a free agent this summer will be dependent on the price. The Mavs do not intend to be in on the bidding for Howard if it’s in the neighborhood of a max contract, which would have a starting salary of more than $30 million. The Mavs made Howard their primary target and offered a max contract in 2013, when the center signed with the Rockets. However, concerns about the 30-year-old Howard’s durability and desire have caused the Mavs to decide that he isn’t worth a nine-figure investment over four years at this point.

The buzz around the league is that teams are hesitant as much over the years as the money — some teams may be willing to go near max cash but they are going nowhere near four years (at least not without team options). As much as there are concerns about his attitude, the bigger concerns are about how he can physically hold up.

When he plays — and gets touches on offense — Howard can still be one of the top centers in the league. He is averaging 13.8 points and 11.8 rebounds a game this season, shooting better than 60 percent, and he has been the only Rocket playing defense for stretches of the season. But how much he can play and how many games teams will get the full, focused Howard remains a concern.

I’d say the market isn’t going to be what he expects this summer, but nobody knows what the market will be like this summer with a dearth of top talent but a lot of cash in the marketplace (more than two-thirds of the teams should have space for at least one max contract). As someone with another team told me when discussing what Howard might get this summer (and me balking at teams offering him a max) “it only takes one.”