With NBA free agency officially underway, teams around the league are patching up and rebuilding in hopes of a playoff appearance in 2012-13. Ironically, with plenty of free-agency options, the league’s most sought after talent, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, is still under contract.
According to a report by ESPN’s Marc Stein, there are three major suitors in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes—the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets.
While all three teams are surely making lucrative, multi-player/draft-pick trade offers to the Magic, Howard should have his fingers crossed with his sights set on Brooklyn.
A trade scenario sending Howard to the Nets may be slightly less likely, though. This is because, if Houston does not have the ammunition to reel in Howard on their own, the Rockets would be willing to work out a three-team deal, according to Stein’s report.
If that ends up being the case, Houston would acquire Lakers center Andrew Bynum and would facilitate a deal resulting in Howard landing in Los Angeles.
The Nets, who are on their own in Howard trade talks, will have a difficult time matching whatever offer the Rockets/Lakers put on the table—if that is the direction they decide to go in. Nonetheless, Brooklyn has shown the most interest in bringing in Howard up until this point.
Howard’s issues with the Magic management and coach Stan Van Gundy became obvious last season, resulting in this press conference, which was awkward, to say the least. No matter where he ends up, a fresh start would be extremely beneficial for the six-time NBA All-Star.
But a fresh start in Brooklyn may be the most beneficial scenario for Howard. The Nets are heading into their first season in a new city with a new logo and new color scheme. By going to Brooklyn, Howard will have the opportunity to remold his reputation on a team that is also looking for a new start.
The Nets have already traded for veteran forward Joe Johnson from the Atlanta Hawks, and they locked up guard Deron Williams with a five-year, $98.75 million deal, according to Ken Berger of CBS.
By showing interest in Howard, it looks like the Nets are trying to follow the “Big Three” mold made popular as of late by the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat.
(By the way, now that the Miami has inked Ray Allen, are teams expected to have a Big Four to be competitive, as opposed to a Big Three?)
In 2011-12, the Nets finished dead last in the Atlantic division with a 22-44 record. Only Cleveland, New Orleans and Charlotte had fewer wins. However, last season’s lack of success goes out the window if the Nets are able to bring in Howard.
The deadly combination of Johnson, Williams and Howard would automatically skyrocket Brooklyn to contender status in the Eastern Conference.
New York has been without an NBA championship since 1973, when Hall of Fame guard Walt Frazier led the Knicks to the Finals, where they triumphed over the Lakers.
There are plenty of hungry basketball fans in Brooklyn and beyond that would love to see another New York championship. Acquiring Howard would breathe a little life into those dreams.
Unfortunately for the workers who are tirelessly constructing the Barclays Center, where the Nets will play their home games in 2012-13, they may not receive their due credit. Much like Lucas Oil Stadium is referred to as the house that Peyton Manning built, Howard has the potential to be credited with the Barclay Center’s rising if he ends up in Brooklyn.
As cliché as it sounds, the sky is the limit for Howard in Brooklyn. New York is a much larger media market than Orlando. If Howard earned the nickname “Superman” without ever winning an NBA Final with the Magic, imagine what would happen if he and the Nets were able to bring a championship—or two, or three or eight (okay, I’ll stop)—to New York. His fame and popularity would shoot through the roof.
All this being said, no matter where Howard ends up, whether it be Houston, Los Angeles or Brooklyn, he will play out the remainder of his contract effectively, which is only one more year.
That’s right, we could be right back here next summer, discussing Howard’s plausible landing spots for the 2013-14 season.