On 2 tangents about the Mavs/Howard thing:
If they had gotten Howard, they wouldn't have had the money to do a lot of the things that make them good right now. They wouldn't have been able to sign Calderon, Monta, or Blair, all important rotation players. But I heard rumors that Dirk was willing to take a major pay cut in order to put together a contending squad (take notes, Kobe), so that might not matter.
Secondly, imagine the Calderon, Ellis/Carter/Marion (wing rotation), Dirk, Howard all in their primes simultaneously. It's almost as scary as the 10-11 Celtics lineup if they were in their primes at the same time: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O'Neal.