NBA Trade Rumors: Dwight Howard Would Make Atlanta Hawks Instant Title Contender

Stephen Babb@@StephenBabbCorrespondent IOctober 4, 2016

ORLANDO, FL - DECEMBER 21: Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic argues a call during a preseason game against the Miami Heat at Amway Center on December 21, 2011 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks have become a forgotten factor in the many scenarios that would remove Dwight Howard from the organization that drafted him in 2004.

The disaffected franchise player still doesn't want to play for the Orlando Magic, but his final destination isn't much clearer today than it was before the trade deadline. With talks between the Magic and Brooklyn Nets stalled and perhaps, over for good, the stage is set for other suitors to enter the fray and make their bids.

Much of the attention has focused on the Houston Rockets' ability to send Orlando a bevy of attractive assets and the possibility of the Los Angeles Lakers capitalizing on a three-team deal. 

Don't count the Hawks out just yet, though.

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution's Michael Cunningham, the Hawks have quietly talked to the Magic amidst all the more highly publicized negotiations:

The Hawks have engaged the Magic in trade talks involving Howard, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions. That person did not want to be identified because the teams involved have not discussed the negotiations publicly.

Atlanta could offer some combination of center Al Horford, point guard Jeff Teague and the usual combination of cap relief and draft picks. 

Theoretically, Josh Smith would be available too, but his friendship with Howard makes him one of the more attractive reasons for the big man to stick around. Chances are he won't be going anywhere.

That means at the very least, Atlanta would have arguably the most athletic and defensively potent frontline in the league.

Additionally, the acquisition of Devin Harris means Atlanta could part with either Harris or Teague while retaining at least one solid point guard. 

Howard's supporting cast wouldn't be amazing, but it may be good enough to make some serious noise in the postseason. Whatever role players remained like Anthony Morrow and Ivan Johnson would be helpful, and the Hawks would find other avenues to add talent.

They could absorb players like Jason Richardson and Glen Davis to spare Orlando the cap burden, or they could use their own cap space to sign some help for Howard.

The first season together might not be immaculate, but the organization would be well-positioned to compete immediately and improve quickly thereafter.

Sure, we haven't heard much about the Hawks snagging Dwight just yet, but maybe we should have.