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Dwight Howard Rumors: Chad Ford Says Dallas Is 'Top Choice'

With talks between the Brooklyn Nets and the Orlando Magic now officially dead, at least until Jan. 15, when Brook Lopez is once again eligible to be traded, Dwight Howard's ultimate destination remains shrouded in mystery.

The Dallas Mavericks, who have carefully maintained their cap space headed into 2013, remain (for now) on his short-list, at least according to ESPN Insider Chad Ford:

If the Magic hold onto him all year? Yes. My guess is he'll go to Dallas. They'll have the room and he's made it clear that's his second option after Brooklyn.

There are two important caveats here:

1) It's extremely unlikely Orlando will keep Howard all season. So wherever he does end up, the Mavericks would be bidding against a team with his Bird Rights who could offer him a fresh start and a much more competitive roster than the Magic.

2) Ford, like practically every national observer, is guessing. He says so himself. Without sources "close to Howard" (i.e. Howard himself), there's really no difference between Ford's speculation and any plugged-in fan. There was no logical way to predict that Howard would opt-in and then demand a trade, so how can anyone really know what he'll do next?

Mavericks fans shouldn't get their hopes up, but at the very least, there's reason for those hopes to be alive.

For all the latest news and notes on the Mavericks free agency plans, stay tuned to the SB Nation Dallas story-stream as well as Mavs Moneyball.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.