NBA Rumors: Chris Paul And Dwight Howard Nearly Signed With Mavericks In 2013, Per Marc J. Spears

Chris Paul, then playing for the Los Angeles Clippers, dribbles the ball in front of then-Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard.
Scott Halleran / Getty Images

While the Dallas Mavericks quickly fell out of championship contention after winning the 2011 NBA Finals, a new report suggests that the team might have had a chance of remaining on top of the Western Conference in the years that followed their first — and only — league title so far. According to a leading NBA insider, point guard Chris Paul and center Dwight Howard — who were still among the NBA’s best at their respective positions at the time — both came close to signing with the Mavericks when they entered free agency in the summer of 2013.

In an appearance on Zach Lowe’s The Lowe Post podcast on ESPN, Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated claimed that six years ago, there were rumors that Paul and Howard were planning to take their talents to the Mavericks after wrapping up their stints with Los Angeles’ two NBA teams. But instead of moving to Dallas, Paul re-signed with the Clippers, while Howard moved from the Lakers to the Houston Rockets as one of the 2013 offseason’s top free-agent acquisitions.

“I really think that they, Chris and Dwight, basically wink, wink said they were going to Dallas, from what I’ve heard, and that Dwight backed out,” Spears said, as quoted by NBC Sports. “Word on the street. But we hear a lot of stories. That’s one story I’ve heard.”

According to NBC Sports, that wasn’t the first time that Paul and Howard were linked to the Mavericks, as both players were eligible for free agency in 2012 but chose to opt into the final year of their contracts. The publication added that Dallas’ descent into mediocrity just two years after their 2011 Finals victory was “somewhat by choice,” as the organization was “willing to accept a lower floor” by letting some of their top players leave via free agency in hopes of landing even bigger stars.

As further noted, Paul continued playing at an elite level after apparently spurning the Mavericks for a return to the Clippers. Howard, on the other hand, was already “slipping,” but as his Basketball-Reference player page shows, he still posted double-double averages in points and rebounds in the five seasons that followed his troubled first stint with the Lakers.

Following a four-year period where they missed the playoffs, the Mavericks are currently enjoying the fruit of their rebuilding efforts, with second-year wingman Luka Doncic and recently-acquired forward Kristaps Porzingis leading the way for a team that’s ranked third in the Western Conference, with a 17-7 record. However, NBC Sports opined that it’s “fun” to think about how good Dallas could have been after their championship run, had Howard and Paul joined the Mavs six summers ago.