Dwight Howard Rumors: 5 Teams Dwight Howard Should Consider Besides Brooklyn
The biggest name on the NBA market this summer is a guy who isn't even a free agent.
By now, you've heard that Dwight Howard desperately wants out of Orlando and into the city of Brooklyn. He's even gone so far as to say the Nets are the only team he'd even consider signing an extension with and that, if traded elsewhere, he would play out the season and hit free agency next summer.
The on-again, off-again trade debacle between Howard and the Magic has been obnoxiously frustrating for everyone involved. The biggest victims here are Magic fans. A couple of years ago, they watched Howard lead their team to the NBA Finals. Now, they get to watch Howard sandbag them in one of the biggest acts of selfishness in recent memory.
If critics were in an uproar over LeBron's "Decision", Howard's antics over the past year take LeBron's self-centered approach two years ago to a new level. It's like a "How to..." guide on how to assassinate one's public image.
Howard's Brooklyn obsession puts new Magic GM Rob Hennigan in a lose-lose situation.
If he gives in to Howard's demands, he sets a terrible precedent going forward if he's faced with similar situations with other players on the team.
However, Howard's short-sightedness has made finding another suitor difficult. After all, another team is going to be understandably reluctant to give up too much for a one-year rental of a 26-year-old center coming off back surgery who is quickly becoming very unpopular.
That hasn't stopped Hennigan from working the phones. SI's Sam Amick reports the Magic have contacted other teams in hopes of finding a new home for Howard outside of Brooklyn.
The sad part in this whole ordeal is Brooklyn isn't even Howard's best option. Even with the team drastically improving thanks to the re-signing of Gerald Wallace and yesterday's Joe Johnson trade, the Nets would significantly diminish the overall roster by trading for Howard.
According to ESPN's Chris Broussard, the Nets have offered up Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks and first-round picks in 2013, 2015 and 2017 in exchange for Howard. After sending five players to Atlanta for Johnson, going through with the Howard trade would leave Brooklyn pretty thin.
The wise move for Howard would be to open up his list of possible destinations. I wrote over the weekend that Houston deserved consideration, but there are other options Howard should consider as well.
Here are five other teams, beyond Houston and Brooklyn, that Howard should also consider signing an extension with.
5. Golden State Warriors
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This is a bit of a moot point, as Golden State has taken themselves out of the Dwight Howard sweepstakes.
Truth be told, they never really needed Howard in the first place. With last year's acquisition of center Andrew Bogut and this year's selection of North Carolina small forward Harrison Barnes, the Warriors have a starting five with plenty of potential.
Still, Howard would have been an upgrade for them as he's more durable than Bogut and better than the former Buck in nearly every statistical category. The Warriors could have sent a package headlined by Bogut and power forward David Lee and build around a core of Barnes, Howard and point guard Steph Curry.
For Howard, he would still get the opportunity to play in a state-of-the-art facility, as the Warriors are going to be moving to a new arena in San Francisco in 2017.
Granted, that's not the same as playing in the brand new Barclays Center right now, but it's still a chance to be the face of a franchise in a new area. On top of that, Howard would be playing in front of one of the best fan bases in the NBA.
Besides, 2017 gives Howard plenty of time to wash the stench off of the public image that he continues to drag through the mud.
Howard could headline a young Warriors team on the rise and do some damage in the Western Conference and be away from having to face LeBron James' Miami Heat every year for a shot at the Finals.
Steph Curry may not be Deron Williams but he has a chance to be a star. The same goes for Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes.
It may not be the flash of playing in the Staples Center, but it's still a basketball future in California. Playing in Brooklyn will never be the same as playing in Madison Square Garden, so either way, Howard would be starring for the little brother franchise in a major market.
4. Dallas Mavericks
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Normally, the ultimate goal of an NBA superstar is to win championships. Dwight Howard's desire to play only for a Nets team that has never won an NBA title seems to go against that grain.
In Dallas, Howard would be playing for a franchise that won a championship just a year ago. He would get to team with a superstar in Dirk Nowitzki and he'll have the comfort of Mark Cuban's deep pockets to make sure the Mavericks stay in the championship hunt.
Dallas doesn't have a ton to offer Orlando in return for Howard beyond point guard Rod Beaubois and some draft picks, but it would allow them to keep Howard out of the Eastern Conference for at least a year.
Even if only a rental, the move makes sense for Dallas anyway. Cuban can spend the summer throwing money at free agents in the hopes of building a team around Dirk and Dwight, while spending the entire season trying to charm Howard into staying.
The Mavericks present Howard with one of his best opportunities to win championships. We saw what Dallas is capable of when they have a force on the inside that can protect the rim. Dwight Howard is better than Tyson Chandler, and playing with Dirk will make life easier for D12 in the paint.
There's also no state taxes in Texas, which would allow Howard to be an even richer young man.
3. Chicago Bulls
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The Chicago Bulls are already championship contenders, even without Dwight Howard. Granted, their success is contingent on Derrick Rose's recovery from knee surgery, but they would be a scary team with Howard and a healthy D.Rose.
Any package for Howard would have to include Joakim Noah and Luol Deng. That seems to be a fair price for both sides involved.
Deng was being shopped heavy during the draft and Noah, while one of the game's best big men, can't seem to stay healthy. The Bulls could agree to take back Jason Richardson to save Orlando some money and fill the void left by Deng.
Once Rose comes back, Howard can feast on Rose's alley-oops, while also having a partner to bang on the boards with in Carlos Boozer. Just imagine how tough it will be trying to out-rebound the Bulls with Howard and Boozer, with Taj Gibson off the bench.
Another benefit to playing in Chicago is the fan base. The Bulls have lead the league in attendance the past two seasons and have an extremely loyal fan base that dates back to the Jordan dynasty in the 90's.
A Howard-Rose combination makes the Bulls a much tougher opponent for Miami in the East than Howard joining the Williams-Johnson-Wallace trio in Brooklyn. Plus, Howard would be playing for one of the game's premier defensive minds in Tom Thibodeau.
It's a move that depends greatly on Rose's knee, but it's Howard's best option to win an NBA championship.
2. Atlanta Hawks
New Hawks GM has worked quickly in shaking up this Atlanta roster.
Joe Johnson and his albatross contract? Gone.
Former draft bust Marvin Williams? Gone.
The next on the block could be athletic forward Josh Smith. However, what might keep Smith in the A-T-L is the potential master plan of aligning him with Howard and All-Star point guard Chris Paul next summer.
The first step would be sending center Al Horford and point guard Jeff Teague to Orlando for Howard.
From there, Ferry could try his best to sell Howard on staying in the same area he grew up in and became a high school legend. After that, Ferry can turn his attention to righting one of the franchise's biggest wrongs: bringing in Chris Paul, the guy they passed on for Williams in 2008.
Paul is expected to turn down the Clippers' three-year, $60 million deal this summer, mainly because he stands to make significantly more money next summer. The Clippers have the advantage of offering Paul a five-year, $110 million deal, but also risk Paul signing elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent.
If Ferry can convince Howard and Paul to stick around Atlanta for awhile, that duo along with Smith not only gives the Hawks a great young trio, but also gives them three of the league's best defenders.
Howard has won Defensive Player of the Year three times and Paul is the reigning steals leader.
The biggest problem is Atlanta isn't known for packing the house. Even during the Braves' run under Bobby Cox, Atlanta struggled to sell out games. That's a huge negative for Howard, who seems more interested in atmosphere than anything else.
However, Atlanta is the one thing that these other cities aren't: home. Howard was born and raised in Atlanta and, in a time where he'll struggle to find many fans, he'll always have his family to lean on.
For as much as Howard wants to play with Deron Williams, the possibility of playing with CP3 has to trump that.
Atlanta just saved nearly $105 million by moving Johnson and Williams' contracts. They are going to be players in the free agent market next summer. The immediate returns for playing in Atlanta may not entice Howard, but the potential of forming his own "Big Three" at home with Paul and Smith will make it all worth it.
1. Los Angeles Lakers
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The reluctance by Howard to join the Lakers is somewhat understandable. After stealing Shaquille O'Neal's "Superman" gimmick, Howard probably doesn't want to come off as too much of a Shaq clone by following The Diesel's path from Orlando to Los Angeles.
That being said, it's an opportunity to play for the Los Angeles Lakers. This is a team with years of tradition and a fan base packed with celebrities. It's the chance to be in Hollywood. It's the chance to play with Kobe Bryant on a team with the second-most championships in league history.
It's an opportunity to be part of a legacy of great Lakers centers that includes Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaq. It's one of the most recognizable sports franchises in the world.
What more could you really ask for, Dwight?
The Lakers have made an offer of Andrew Bynum and Metta World Peace in exchange for Howard, but the catch is that Howard must agree to an extension with the team. Even though Bynum is an unrestricted free agent next summer, the Lakers don't want to take a chance of giving away its best trade chip for someone not interested in staying for the long haul.
Bynum is the best piece the Magic can realistically hope to get back for Howard. Sure, he's a bit aloof, doesn't always try hard and is maddeningly brittle, but he's a very good center when he's healthy.
He's 24, with seven years of NBA experience and a championship under his belt. He can lead the Magic for the next decade.
As for Howard, he becomes a part of a team that already has one of the greatest ever in Kobe Bryant as well as an All-Star forward in Pau Gasol. Once Kobe inevitably hangs 'em up, Howard gets to become the face of the Lakers franchise, which makes him much more marketable than being the face of the Nets.
As with Golden State and Dallas, he'll get to play out West, which is seeing its contenders facing the effects of Father Time. Howard could help the Lakers dominate the West for years and the scoring load won't be nearly as heavy as long as the Black Mamba is around to jack up shots.
It's a move that should have been made a year ago, and honestly, one that many expected to happen by now. As resistant as Dwight is to follow Shaq, the fact remains that O'Neal was a three-time champion with the Lakers and one of the biggest stars the sport has ever had.
Those are pretty good footsteps to follow in. Doing things his own way has done nothing for Howard. It will only benefit him to follow the path left by the greats before him by becoming a part of a franchise with a storied tradition of winning.