Are Mavs Talking To Lakers About Dwight?

‘Have the Mavs contacted LA about a Dwight S-n-T?' We've got that scoop, plus: 'Is it true he's leaning here or there?' ‘Does Calderon fit into the equation?' ‘Is a ‘Cleveland contingency' still in play?' As we wait out the Dwightmare, we answer the four biggest questions looming, exclusively at

While we wait for Dwight's Decision, we answer four Dallas Mavericks-centric questions of the moment:

1: Have the Mavs contacted the Lakers about a Dwight sign-and-trade?

NBA sources tell that as of late in the night on July 4, the Mavs and Lakers have not visited on the subject of a Dwight sign-and-trade.

What does this mean?

On the surface, it might signal the Lakers' unwillingness to participate in such a swap. Stories abound explaining how Jim Buss will refuse to cooperate with anybody in such a deal.

But …

A) That's what they all say. Dan Gilbert said it in Cleveland, too … until the moment came when LeBron departed and the Cavs were faced with accepting a "something'' or a "nothing.'' Stubbornness lost and a sign-and-trade was completed.

B) Golden State's reported involvement in sign-and-trade talks with LA indicates, obviously, that the Lakers were bluffing. The Warriors are serious enough in their pursuits of Dwight to have leaked details of their wishes here -- -- and while that doesn't mean Dwight is definitely going to the Warriors, it does mean the Warriors (with no cap room and a trade as their only option) definitely think luring LA into a swap is within the realm of possibility.

A reminder here: Dwight-to-Golden State (or Dwight to anywhere) isn't the Lakers' call. It's Dwight's call, and his alone.

If Dwight chooses Dallas, the Mavs can essentially make room for him with a give-away of Vince Carter's contract, freeing up space to give Howard a four-year, $87.6-mil max deal that starts as $20,513,178. (The Vince-only flip depends on the to-be-determined salary cap for 2013. If Vince isn't enough, Vince plus Akognon would likely do.)

And maybe that's why Dallas hasn't talked to LA about a Dwight sign-and-trade: The Mavs don't need to do it.

2) How does Calderon fit into this equation?

We wrote earlier this week that we believe free agent Jose Calderon – long on the Mavericks' wish list – is a top target in this group. Since then, his name has floated to the top of "guys Dwight might like to play with.''

But there is a story behind the story.

Calderon -- a BBIQ playmaker with a career average of nine assists per 36 minutes and a 4.2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio – isn't some boyhood friend of Dwight's. He doesn't "hang out'' with Dwight. They've never played together before.

The Dwight/Dirk/Calderson trio isn't Dwight's idea. It's Dallas' idea.

Book this: The Mavs' meeting with Howard featured detailed analysis of how Dwight and Dirk would play together. Also factored in: How a Kidd-like point guard would benefit that tandem. That would be a good reason for coach Rick Carlisle to be joined by analytics expert Roland Beech in the Dwight meeting room: the pure basketball benefits of a Calderon (rather than an Ellis, say.)

Calderon, meanwhile, remains in play after turning down a Kings offer. It is being suggested Calderon doesn't want to play for a full-rebuilding-mode team.

Calderon is coming off a five-year, $45 mil contract and last year earned $10,561,983. That part of the equation, frankly, isn't a very good fit.

But …

3 Is that ‘Cleveland contingency' still in play?

For weeks, the Mavs have had discussions with Cleveland. They've been misreported as "locked-down'' deals designed for draft day when all they ever were amounted to "contingency deals.'' Ideas that might eventually fit for both clubs.

Go back to the Calderon idea. If signs Dwight outright and dumps Marion in the process, $6 mil of room remains. It would be a cozy fit if Calderon were to agree to a deal starting at $6 mil.

If he won't bite on that?

Yes, that ‘Cleveland contingency' comes into play. The Cavs have $18 million of cap room, haven't made any overtures to big free agents, and have engaged in tentative talks with Dallas. (Probably with Houston and Golden State, too.) The Mavs can dump Vince (who is coveted, by the way) to make room for Dwight.

And then involve Cleveland in a three-way trade involving Marion and Calderon, allowing the PG to get paid more to his liking.

4) Is Dwight "leaning away'' from Dallas?

I write all of the above fully aware that there are a dozen more reports this morning purporting to know that Dwight is "leaning'' this way or that. As you see here and in our weeks of coverage of Dwightmare, I haven't played the prediction game. I've been asked 100 times on the radio, "Where do you think Dwight will go?'' and I've left the fake answers to the charlatans and the comedians.

(Meanwhile, there is reason to give credence to Woy's tweet: "Holed away in Colorado, the Lakers are still prominent in Dwight Howard's mind, Rockets remain strong, Warriors lurking.'' The lack of a Mavs mention there is disconcerting ... but is far from a definitive elimination of Dallas, obviously.)

In the end, I subscribe to what Mark Cuban told me on the morning of July 4, in our exclusive interview and in his first interview following the Dwight visit. And Mavs fans should hope Howard himself appreciates the approach.

"The perfect situation,'' Cuban told me, "is that everyone hears about it when it's announced.''

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