'Howard Powered'? The 'Pick-Your-Mavs' Pitch

Two years ago, Dwight Howard mentioned his attraction to the Mavs' willingness to allow star players a voice in the club's direction. Mark Cuban's free-agency pitch to Dwight (and to Paul) will reflect back to that mention. But Cuban's promise comes with a Deron danger and some Nowitzki knuckleheadedness.



Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban had made recent appearances on all three DFW sports stations and if you really shop-and-compare what he's said in each -- and much of what Cuban has said in a handful of exclusive visits with DB.com, too -- you hear some ... well, some inconsistencies.

The latest: The notion that a Dwight Howard would, upon becoming a Mav in 2013, become an unofficial "assistant GM'' position in 2014.

Since when did the Mavs think giving an intellectually erratic player such power was a good thing?

"In essence,'' Cuban said this week on KTCK, defining at least one segment of the pitch, "you get to come in and, it's you and we have room for two more max free agents (next year) ... So part of our sales pitch is, look, we're not going to try to fool you and say that you and Dirk and Shawn Marion and Vince and filler are basically a championship team. Maybe we get on a run, maybe we're pretty good. But the reality is you're going to work with us and Dirk to get out there and pick your team(mates)."

This approach shows a keen recognition of what superstars seem to desire. We assume it might be true of Chris Paul. But it's very specific to Howard, who two years ago, when complaining about the way Orlando management disrespected him, specifically cited Dallas as a place where players work with, not just for, management.

Guarantee: When on or around July 1, Cuban informs Dwight Howard that "You and Dirk get to pick your teammates,'' Howard's ears will stand at attention.

There is, however, a built-in problem here: Players, despite being power-brokers, generally make awful in-uniform assistant GMs. Three examples of the pitfalls:

1) Privately, one of the reasons Cuban will tell you he's kinda glad Deron-to-Dallas didn't work out last summer is because of Deron's makeup. We've heard stories of him rushing from Nets practice last season not straight to his coach's office but instead straight to GM Billy King's office ... so he could discuss the coach's work.

There are people in the Mavs organization who knew of that and believed it wasn't a form of "leadership'' but rather a form of "mutiny.'' And of course, it didn't take long for Avery Johnson to get fired.

So why, if the Mavs think Deron having power in Brooklyn is a bad idea, does the idea suddenly get good with Dwight in Dallas?

2) It is absolutely true that Dirk has a resonant voice at Mavs HQ. But ... Cuban recently laughed as told us that at the trade deadline every year, Nowitzki approaches management with ideas for trades that are generally rejected.

Dirk will be in the Draft Room on Thursday. He's looking at film of prospects. He's ... involved.

But the idea of The UberMan being taken seriously as a front-office mind?

"Donnie has the knowledge and Cuban always has got some stuff up his sleeve," Dirk often says.

Translation: Dallas likes to get Dirk to sign off on its plans. Dallas doesn't ask Dirk to design the plans himself.

3) There is a fine line between having a "voice'' and using it for ego-driven reasons. We know which side of that line Dirk is positioned on. Which side will Dwight be on?
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Isn't the truth about Dwight in Orlando and in LA not something about authority not respecting him, but rather, the other way around?

What Dwight once observed about the way Cuban allowed players involvement is true. Or better said, WAS true. A team led by Jason Kidd, with the Dirk backbone and the Jet spirit? Yes, that was a strong locker room in which those three men were made to feel like trusted lieutenants of Cuban, Donnie and Carlisle.

Those weren't inmates. And that wasn't an asylum.

Cuban can offer the same promotion to Dwight. ... and really, must offer it.

And if Dwight Howard accepts? He gets a role for which he seems especially unsuited, a level that worked in Dallas because the unique Jason Kidd was the ringleader of the level, an "assistant GM'' position that leads to him causing as many problems as a powerbroker as he solves as a player.

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