DALLAS -- Dallas Mavericks forward Josh Howard brought unexpected and possibly unprecedented attention to himself Friday, just hours before Game 3 of the Mavericks' first-round series with New Orleans, by openly discussing his offseason marijuana use on Dallas' ESPN Radio affiliate.
Expounding on comments about marijuana that he made over the weekend to The Dallas Morning News, Howard joined "The Michael Irvin Show" on ESPN Radio 103.3 FM on Friday afternoon and told the Hall of Fame wide receiver that he "probably" would not smoke marijuana in-season even if the league did not have a random testing program but described "smoking weed in the offseason sometimes" as his "personal choice and personal opinion."
"I don't think that's stopping me from doing my job," Howard told Irvin.
The 28-year-old from Wake Forest, selected by NBA commissioner David Stern to fill a roster spot created by injury on the Western Conference All-Star team in 2007, added, "I think that everybody in the media world and in the sports world knows that NBA players do smoke marijuana."
It was not immediately clear what sort of punishment Howard could face for his candor, either from the league office or his team. But one source close to the situation told ESPN.com that the league likely "can't" suspend Howard.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said any punishment from the club will be meted out "internally."
"We won't make it public," Cuban said. "But we'll deal it.
"We'll do what we need to do."
NBA players are required to undergo four random tests every season between Oct. 1 and June 30. But a player who tests positive for marijuana is not subjected to his first five-game suspension -- or even public knowledge he has failed a drug test -- until his third failed test.
There likewise appears to be no penalty precedent for a player who merely shares details about his substance abuse in the media.
Two sources close to the situation told ESPN.com Howard will almost certainly be entered immediately into the NBA's marijuana program -- which would require him to submit to much more frequent testing -- but it would appear that he is not at risk for a suspension unless he has failed two previous tests.
The league issued no response to Howard's comments Friday, citing a policy in its anti-drug agreement with the union that forbids the NBA and the Players Association from publicly discussing specifics about substance-abuse issues.
Mavericks coach Avery Johnson said during his usual pregame meeting with reporters that he would need more information before responding.
"I haven't heard the interview and I haven't spoken with Josh," Johnson said . "Once I hear the interview and talk to Josh, we'll go from there."
But, Johnson added, Howard's decision to consent to the interview and invite questions on this topic on the day of a playoff game was "what I call poor timing and poor judgment."
Dallas is already reeling from a 2-0 deficit to the Hornets entering a crucial Game 3 at home.
Howard has struggled mightily in the series, averaging 13.5 points on 26.9 percent shooting from the floor. But the discussion about marijuana with Irvin came at Howard's urging -- as the station stressed repeatedly during subsequent programming -- to clarify the statements he made to The Morning News.
Asked by Irvin's co-host, Kevin Kiley, if he fears that his struggles in this series will be linked to his marijuana admission, Howard said: "Oh yeah, I understand that. . . . I know that's not the truth."
". . . Like I was saying to the [Morning News reporter], it has nothing to do with what I do as far as basketball, when I go out there and perform," Howard said. "That's how I feel about it.
". . . What I was stating was just [in response to] a random question he asked me about the marijuana use. I just let him know that most of the players in the league use marijuana and I have and do partake in smoking weed in the offseason sometimes and that's my personal choice and my personal opinion. But I don't think that's stopping me from doing my job."
Asked why he wanted to discuss this topic, Howard said: "I was raised on being truthful and honest with myself and my family, so I can say it with no problems and go out there and perform to the best of my abilities tonight and not even think about it."