Here's what a person familiar with the Mavericks' strategy told me today about Josh Howard: For now, Dallas is telling executives who inquire about him "no." But there's a definite understanding that "no" is not necessarily the final answer. The person familiar with the situation described it as a "soft no" -- meaning the answer is no to what you're offering, but might be yes if the offer gets better.
It's too early in the game to get into what specific proposals have been floated for Howard, but the point is that Dallas seems ready and willing to move him. G.M. Donnie Nelson is simply doing what any top executive would do -- milk his rivals' interest for all it's worth.
All you have to do is consider Mavericks owner Mark Cuban's history -- and read this quote from him -- and it's clear he's not averse to making a big deal at the deadline, but only if the price is right: "If there's just a deal I can't pass up, I'm not going to be religious about cap room," Cuban said. "If I could trade Dirk for Kobe, LeBron and someone else, you'd have to consider it. When teams call about players, they all want bargains. We don't give bargains. We try to get bargains."