The NBA Draft is still more than a month away and free agency doesn't begin until July, but the Dallas Mavericks are wasting no time in the offseason to return to title contention next year with an aging leader in Dirk Nowitzki, who turns 35 years old in a couple of weeks.
On Wednesday, Chad Ford of ESPN reported that the team is "likely" to shop their 13th pick in June's NBA Draft in order to clear up $1.6 million in potential cap space to instead be spent on Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard or the Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Paul, both of whom are set to become a free agent July 1. Howard was paid $19.5 million this season while Paul was on the Clippers' payroll this year for $17.7 million.
As Ford points out, Paul and Howard would have to sacrifice a fifth year on the max contract they could seek from their current team. For Howard, the difference could be over $30 million; he could sign a five-year, $118 million max-level extension if he remained with the Lakers, but under the new collective bargaining agreement, he wouldn't get more than a four-year deal worth $87.6 million if he left for another team. Nowitzki, who is owed $22.7 million this upcoming season, said earlier in May that he would take a "significant pay cut" when he becomes a free agent in summer 2014 to allow the team to retain the marquee player they might sign this summer and to also acquire more talent next summer. According to Ford, Nowtizki will join Mavs owner Mark Cuban, president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson and head coach Rick Carlisle in the recruiting efforts this summer.