A-Town has plateaued.
Ken Berger of CBS Sports reported that the Hawks are a serious threat in the Howard sweepstakes.
Josh Smith, Al Horford and Jeff Teague should all be on the table. Yeah, three starters is a ton to surrender, but it’s worth it.
This team has hit its ceiling. They will always be a step below the top Eastern Conference contenders. Because of that, Atlanta will never be in position to draft a star and with no cap room, they can’t improve.
Larry Drew’s crew is stuck and Howard is their only way to break out of the trap that they’ve set for themselves.
This season, D12 has almost single-handedly carried the Magic to a 26-15 record and the third seed in the East. Besides Ryan Anderson who’s a talented player, Orlando has no one. Jason Richardson, J.J. Redick, Hedo Turkoglu, Glen Davis and Chris Duhon make up the current Magic core.
Atlanta’s supporting cast is better than that, even after losing Smith, Horford and Teague. Assuming that the Magic would force the Hawks to take Turkoglu’s contract, he, Johnson, Marvin Williams, Kirk Hinrich and Zaza Pachulia are an improvement over Howard’s current sidekicks.
Sure, Atlanta didn’t make Howard’s list of desired destinations, but it is his hometown. If anything is capable of distracting Howard from the bright lights of New York City, it’s his family.
Even if the Hawks did successfully trade for him and he refused to sign an extension, at least Atlanta would’ve done everything in their power to improve. Instead of being stuck for the next four years exactly where they are now, rebuilding would begin.
Either way—instant contender or long road to recovery—Atlanta’s only route to the NBA Finals goes through Howard.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.