Why would the Magic trade Howard to the Nets?
This deal doesn't make sense on any level to me. Why would the Magic trade Howard for any package that is centered around Brook Lopez? I mean, Brook frickin' Lopez? Are you serious? Nothing against Lopez, who is a nice young player, but he is not in the same league, the same neighborhood or even the same zip code as Dwight Howard.
This entire trade centers around the fact that Howard won't sign with any team other than the Nets when he becomes a free agent at the end of the season. So teams are obviously hesitant to part with their assets in any Dwight Howard trade without the assurance that they are getting Howard for the foreseeable future.
To all that noise, I'm calling bologna.
The only way Dwight Howard lands in Brooklyn is if the Magic are stupid enough to make this deal. Dwight Howard doesn't have a no trade clause in his contract, so the Magic can trade him to any team that is willing to call Howard's bluff.
If I were a GM, I'd roll the dice and call his bluff. It's really a no-brainer.
The Lakers, Rockets and most recently the Atlanta Hawks have all been rumored (via ESPN) to be in talks with the Magic about a possible trade for Howard. If any of those teams acquired Howard and he decided to sign with another team after next season, he would be leaving about $25 million on the table to walk away.
And where would Dwight Howard go?
Brooklyn's cap space would be all tied up in Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace. They would only be able to sign Howard via the mid-level exception, or a veteran free agent deal, meaning Howard would be taking around a $15-18 million pay cut next year.
The Knicks, Lakers, Clippers, Bulls, Thunder and Heat will also all be capped out next year and unable to make any kind of offer to Howard. So again, his attempt to strong arm his way onto the latest "super team" depends solely on the Orlando Magic caving in and trading Howard where he wants to go.
If I were running the Magic, there is no way I'd trade a superstar like Howard for an above average player like Lopez, two first-round picks from the Nets (which would be in the late, late 20s) and a lottery protected first-round pick from the Clippers (which would also be in the mid-to-late 20s).
That deal means that I'd be trading Howard for four very, very average NBA players. Also, Lopez is about to ask for a new contract, and because he is a seven footer that is halfway decent, you know he is going to get paid. Roy Hibbert just got a deal making $14.5 million per season. Lopez is going to command similar money when he is a free agent.
Think about that. You could have a guy like Hibbert or Lopez for around $14 million, or you could have a guy like Howard for around $19 million. So why make this deal if you are the Magic? Why saddle yourself with Brook Lopez and three late, late first-round draft picks when he is going to tie up all that cap space? Is that really going to make your team better?
If you are the GM and you make this deal, you are basically guaranteeing the fact that you will not beat Miami or Brooklyn for the next five years. You're also not beating Boston, Chicago, New York or Indiana anytime soon. Washington has a great looking young team.
So basically, if you make this deal, you aren't making the playoffs anytime soon. As the GM, that means you will get fired. How can you make this deal? How can you sell it to your fans? To me, it just doesn't make any sense.
If I were running the Magic, I'd listen to what the Hawks were trying to sell me. The Hawks have completely remade their roster this summer, shipping Marvin Williams to Utah and Joe Johnson and his contract to Brooklyn. The Hawks could give them Al Horford, who makes only $12 million per year and is locked in through 2015-16.
Horford is a better player than Lopez, and he has a better contract.
To sweeten the deal, the Hawks might even throw in Josh Smith, who makes over $13 million but becomes a free agent after next season. By throwing in Smith, that would allow the Hawks to take back a contract (Hedo Turkoglu or Jason Richardson) from the Magic. This would only help the Magic down the road.
Or the Hawks could throw in a ton of draft picks, which would probably be in the mid teens and would be of far more value than the picks the Nets are trying to peddle to the Magic. After all, Josh Smith grew up playing AAU ball with Dwight Howard, and the two are really good friends. So playing with Smith in Atlanta might appeal to Howard.
Either way, the trade is a win-win for the Magic and Hawks. The Magic would get Horford, a better player than Lopez, and better draft picks. The Hawks, who are going nowhere as currently constructed, would get Howard, a true superstar. If he stuck around after next year, their organization would have a sense of direction. If he didn't, they would have the slate wiped clean to start over.
If I were Hawks GM Danny Ferry, I'd make this deal. I'd call Howard's bluff. If I were the Magic, I'd make this deal. I'd tell Dwight Howard this isn't AAU basketball, where you can just pick your own team.