Report: Dwight Howard tops Mavericks’ free-agent wish list

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Dwight Howard has been linked to several teams: Bucks, Knicks, Magic, Hawks, Trail Blazers and Hornets.

But will anyone highly covet him in free agency?

Dwain Price of the Star-Telegram:

At the top of the Mavericks’ wish list this year is Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard

This runs somewhat counter to a report that Dallas doesn’t intend to pay Howard near the max – though the notions obviously aren’t mutually exclusive. Still, in this free-agent environment, it will probably take near a max starting salary to lure Howard. If the Mavericks aren’t willing to offer that, do they really put him atop their wish list?

Price was out ahead on Dirk Nowitzki opting out, even though the veteran forward publicly said he’d opt in. That should buy Price the benefit of the doubt on this.

Howard would be a nice fit in Dallas, which is trying to maximize Nowitzki’s final years. So, Howard being on the wrong side of 30 isn’t the problem it’d be other places. He’d upgrade the Mavericks’ rim protection – important next to Nowitzki – and benefit from the Nowitzki-induced floor spacing Rick Carlisle schemes up.

The center hodgepodge of Zaza Pachulia, Salah Mejri, David Lee and JaVale McGee did a fine job this season, but the position is ripe for upgrade. Pachulia and Lee will be free agents, too.

Dallas projects to have about $20 million in cap space, which might not be enough for Howard – but other players could be moved/on the move. That’s not too much to ask if Howard is the team’s top priority.