5 NBA Stars Who Could Hold Their Teams Hostage Like Dwight Howard

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistJuly 9, 2012

5 NBA Stars Who Could Hold Their Teams Hostage Like Dwight Howard

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    Dwight Howard.

    The name itself is enough to make NBA fans cringe. He's been all over the news for more than a year, headlining a self-induced nightmare that has yet to reach a resolution.

    Though the Orlando Magic continue to shop Howard elsewhere, his affinity for landing with the Brooklyn Nets is continuing to prevail.

    Why? Because he has leverage. He can hold the Magic hostage, knowing that they'll be forced to give in to his list of demands, no matter how often it changes.

    And he's not the only one. 

LeBron James of Miami Heat

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    LeBron James holds a different kind of leverage over the Heat than Dwight Howard yields over the Magic.

    James cannot opt out of his contract until after the fourth season, but with an aging Dwyane Wade and a freshly awarded league and Finals MVP by his side, he could run the show in Miami any way he sees fit.

    After winning his first championship, it seems unlikely James would create waves, but should the going ever get tough in South Beach, anything is possible.

    If the King himself decides to demand a trade to a certain team, or insist the Heat make a certain move in the next two years, the organization would have no choice but to oblige.

    Regardless of how many rings James finds himself donning.

Deron Williams of Brooklyn Nets

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    Deron Williams already announced he will re-sign with the Nets, but nothing is written in stone—or ink, for that matter—until July 11.

    Though it is highly unlikely Williams reneges on his verbal agreement, the CBA gives him the right to do so. The point guard could easily force Brooklyn into a corner by demanding a sign-and-trade to whatever team he sees fit.

    It took a marquee name in Joe Johnson to push him to remain with the Nets, but the potential absence of Dwight Howard leaves the window open for Williams to get nasty.

    Until they're afforded the luxury of five years and $98 million worth of leverage, Williams holds Howard-esque power over all of Brooklyn.  

Josh Smith of Atlanta Hawks

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    Despite putting themselves in position to be major players in the free-agency market next summer, the Hawks have to be concerned with the future of Josh Smith.

    The reality of Smith welcoming a trade from Atlanta cannot be pushed aside just yet. With only a year left on his contract, the versatile forward controls his own destiny, whether he makes it to free agency or not.

    While the Hawks can opt to trade Smith before he is given the opportunity to spurn them next summer, he can hinder their potential return by refusing to sign an extension with any number of teams, much like Dwight Howard has.

    And we're currently witnessing how that type of power is unfolding.

Chris Paul of Los Angeles Clippers

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    Dwight Howard isn't the only one at it again.

    Chris Paul has opted not to sign an extension the Clippers have on the table, namely to keep his options open at the end of this season.

    The point guard is no stranger to dictating his own future—though the Hornets had it much better than the Magic—and entering the last year of his contract sets the stage for him to call the shots in the Los Angeles.

    Though re-signing Chauncey Billups and Blake Griffin, and bringing Jamal Crawford into the fold, ensured the Clippers would be major players in the West, it gives the team little financial flexibility moving forward.

    Subsequently, should Los Angeles' blueprint for success begin to waver even slightly, the door is wide-open for Paul to take control and hold his team hostage for a second time.

Andrew Bynum of Los Angeles Lakers

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    As the Lakers continue their pursuit of Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum has the ability to hold Los Angeles hostage.

    Like Howard, Bynum is set to become an unrestricted free agent after this season, and like Howard, he can also refuse to sign an extension with any team he chooses—including the Magic.

    The absence of Bynum ruins any possibility of Howard joining the Lakers, a testament to how much power the volatile center truly holds.

    So while Kobe Bryant may call the shots for purple and gold, it's Bynum who can shape the future of the franchise any way he chooses, beginning with the dismantling of Howard negotiations.