So once more, Dwight Howard was asked where he might end up this season.
After stating that his desired locations included Los Angeles, New York, New Jersey and Dallas, Dwight has now said—Per Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune—that he's open to landing in Chicago with the Bulls and reigning NBA MVP Derrick Rose.
Woo, boy. If Los Angeles is "Lob City" with Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, what would we call Chicago with a Rose-Howard tandem? They could be, potentially, the best point guard-center combination in NBA history.
It is also a matchup that has the potential to utterly dominate the Miami Heat, whose greatest weaknesses are at point guard and center.
Rose and Howard together would be a tandem the likes of which we have never seen before. A dynamic young point guard with incredible explosive strength and poise, and a young center hitting the prime of his career, currently averaging well over 20 points and 10 rebounds every night. They would have to go down as the Miami Heat's equals in the title chase.
Those are the possibilities if this were to ever happen.
And that's a very, very big "if."
The Bulls went all-out for the giant free agency frenzy of summer 2010 and came out of it second best to the Miami Heat when they landed Carlos Boozer. Boozer is now signed up to a contract that makes him nearly impossible to trade.
The Orlando Magic would, in a trade, demand that Hedo Turkoglu's bloated contract be taken on by the team getting Howard. That, for the Bulls, isn't impossible as they can deal Luol Deng to start making the finances work.
They would also need to give up Joakim Noah and probably either Omer Asik or Taj Gibson.
For the Magic, getting Luol Deng, a player who should be complaining to the White House if he isn't in the All-Star game this season, Joakim Noah—the second best center in the East—and then very good defensive players of their pick in either Taj Gibson at power forward or Omer Asik to back up Noah, this is a trade they should be willing to take.
The quality they get back more than makes up for the quality they lose.
The biggest question is whether the Bulls really want this trade. This Bulls team, remember, won 62 of 82 games last season and has addressed their only real positional weakness by adding Richard Hamilton at shooting guard.
They have the MVP in Rose and they have Noah and Deng, players who should and will be all-stars. They have unparalleled depth at almost every position with Gibson and Asik backing up Boozer and Noah in the frontcourt and Ronnie Brewer, C.J. Watson and Kyle Korver coming off the bench as guards.
The question therefore is—do they actually need to make a franchise-changing move?
The Bulls' 62-20 record last year and their current 17-5 mark this year are slightly deceptive. They won games both this year and last that they had no business winning. They either did it with incredible determination and refusal to quit or via their opponents having a terrible game when it could have been closer.
The Bulls have won this season despite injuries to Rose, Hamilton, Watson, Deng, Noah, Gibson and John Lucas III.
So trading for Dwight might not be the strange move it looks like on paper. He would alter the structure of Chicago massively. However, would it be too much?
The Bulls rank near or at the top of almost every defensive category, including both total and offensive rebounds. This is largely due to the performances of Brewer, Deng, Gibson and Asik, of which two, or even three would leave with Noah for Orlando in a trade for Howard.
Does this mean the Bulls' identity would lose their identity too?
That seems unlikely. Howard more than makes up for any lost rebounding—he isn't the winner of three consecutive Defensive Player of the Year awards for nothing.
Whichever way you cut it, the Bulls starting lineup would be intimidating and more than a match for the Miami Heat's trio of superstars.
Rose and Hamilton sharing the backcourt could average 35-40 points per game. Add in Turkoglu's ability to shoot threes from small forward beside Boozer, who can play inside and out from power forward, alongside Howard near the basket.
You have a team more or less built to exploit the Heat. That is, after all, what the Bulls must do to get to the Finals.
To those who say that trading mid-season leaves little time to work Howard in, do the Bulls really need to win a lot of games post-trade deadline?
Yes they'll only have six or so weeks to get used to playing together. But as they are pretty much assured a playoff berth—a top half one at that—they can take all the hits they want so long as they are right by the playoffs. And with such a young core, would sacrificing this year even be that bad?
Ultimately, this trade will remain a long shot unless either organization starts making serious noise about the chances of it happening. As it stands, the Magic are still living under the massive shadow of Dwight.
That shadow will only grow larger as the trade deadline approaches.
Did somebody say roller coaster?
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