The Dallas Mavericks are now focusing on the offseason following an early exit from the 2016 NBA playoffs at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder. According to the latest NBA rumors, the Mavericks’ main target in free agency is Dwight Howard who will opt out of his contract with the Houston Rockets.
The Mavs exceeded expectations this season by making it to the postseason without a proper center, settling with decent veteran Zaza Pachulia. In a report by the Star-Telegram, the Mavericks’ top priority this offseason will be signing Howard to a contract.
However, there are many negatives with the eight-time All-Star center including wanting a long-term contract with an annual salary of around $30 million. He is also a bad free throw shooter, lost some of his athletic ability and there are questions about his work ethic and desire to win.
Related NBA Rumors: Dallas Mavericks to make Dwight Howard top priority in free agency
Nonetheless, Dallas will have backup plans just in case another DeAndre Jordan incident happens like last year. If Howard does not sign with the Mavs, three players will be linked to them this offseason according to the Star-Telegram.
First on the list is Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside who averaged 14.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game this season. Those are all career-highs for the 26-year-old center and his 3.7 blocks per game led the NBA.
Second big man the Mavs will look to sign if Howard and Whiteside don’t pan out is the Chicago Bulls’ Pau Gasol. However, he is already past his prime and would likely prefer a team that will contend for an NBA title like the San Antonio Spurs.
On the other hand, Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks is the third on their backup list of centers. He is much younger than Gasol and more experienced than Whiteside.
Besides the four centers, the Mavs’ targets in free agency include Ryan Anderson of the New Orleans Pelicans, Nicolas Batum of the Charlotte Hornets, Kent Bazemore of the Hawks and Mike Conley of the Memphis Grizzlies.
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