NBA Trade Speculation: 5 Most Logical Trade Partners for Dwight Howard

Roy Burton@thebslineContributor IJune 30, 2012

NBA Trade Speculation: 5 Most Logical Trade Partners for Dwight Howard

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    Now that the NBA draft is over, the league can resume its regularly scheduled programming: "Where Will Dwight Howard Ultimately Wind Up?"

    While most of us thought he'd be a free agent this summer, Howard decided to waive his opt-out clause, forcing the seemingly never-ending saga to continue for a second act.

    Something has to give: Orlando would be foolish to allow its superstar center to walk without receiving anything in return. So with D12 completely adamant about not re-signing with the Magic, here's a look at the five most logical trade partners for Dwight Howard.

5) Houston Rockets

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    Just because the Rockets weren't able to trade their three first-round picks to Orlando doesn't mean that the team is completely out of the Dwight Howard sweepstakes.

    Houston has a bevy of talent to choose from and GM Daryl Morey would likely throw in a first-round draft pick or two if necessary. The Rockets have made no secret whatsoever in their interest in Howard: If the team can convince him to sign a long-term deal, Houston just might pull off the biggest coup in recent NBA history.

4) Atlanta Hawks

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    Not only does Howard hail from Atlanta, but current Hawks power forward Josh Smith is one of the Orlando Magic center's closest friends.

    Atlanta has more than enough attractive assets to offer Orlando, and the Hawks may even be willing to take back a bad contract if it results in Howard's arrival in the Peach State.

    With the possibility of a Howard/Smith front line, Atlanta should be one of the more aggressive teams courting Howard this summer.

3) Chicago Bulls

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    A Dwight Howard trade to Chicago almost makes too much sense.

    The Dwight Howard-Derrick Rose tandem would be one of the league's most fearsome duos, and the Bulls would legitimately have a chance to defeat the Miami Heat in the playoffs on a consistent basis.

    A package of Joakim Noah and some of the Bulls' other young talent seems to be a reasonable offer, but either Chicago hasn't broached the subject with the Magic, or Orlando isn't intrigued by what's on the table.

2) Brooklyn Nets

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    The Nets were probably in a better spot to trade for Howard before the team dealt its lottery pick for Gerald Wallace, but they still may be able to swing a deal with the Magic.

    It seems as if New York/Brooklyn is Howard's ideal destination, and if Orlando gets desperate, the Nets may be able to acquire the 6'11" center for far less than they would have paid last year.

    Deron Williams might be the keystone, however: If the free-agent point guard decides to sign elsewhere, Howard might not be all that enthusiastic to join a talent-starved Nets team, even if Jay-Z is a part owner.

1) Los Angeles Lakers

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    A chance to win an NBA championship? Check. Complementary All-Stars already in place? Check. A large metropolitan area that boasts untold marketing opportunities? Check.

    The Los Angeles Lakers are the prime fit for Dwight Howard, and the potential of a Bryant/Gasol/Howard trio should strike fear in the hearts of every other head coach in the NBA.

    The Lakers have the chips to make a deal happen—it may just be a matter of Mitch Kupchak picking up the phone to hash out the important details. As NBA commissioner David Stern might say, a Dwight Howard trade to the Lakers makes perfect sense for "basketball reasons."