There has been a lot of speculation regarding where Dwight Howard is going to play basketball in 2012. It seems like every time you Google his name or turn on ESPN, there's a different story about who the leading contender is to land the current Magic star.
Howard has made himself look pretty bad throughout this mess.
You know how people thought of Lebron after the whole "Decision" debacle? Well, Lebron's actually a pretty good guy, but the way people thought of him is how Dwight actually is. Painting himself to be the victim in this whole thing is causing a lot of negative feelings, and much deserved backlash to fall upon Howard.
But that's neither here nor there. Here are the current odds on where Dwight Howard will play in 2012.
It's pretty clear at this point that the L.A. Lakers are the odds-on favorite to land Dwight Howard. According to ESPN.com's Ric Bucher, the Lakers are looking to make a three-way deal that would send Howard from Orlando to L.A. in exchange for Andrew Bynum.
This trade would then be facilitated by the Cleveland Cavaliers, not by the Houston Rockets as previously thought. The Cavs would receive Bynum from Orlando, in exchange for a bevy of draft picks along with veteran Anderson Verejao.
While not all may necessarily agree with this trade, it appears at the moment that it's the most likely scenario in this ongoing Dwight Howard saga. Although it's unclear how the sometimes mentally weak Howard would deal with the spotlight of playing in a major media market like L.A., it doesn't hurt that if he joins the purple and gold they would instantly become strong title contenders, right up there with OKC and Miami.
If the Lakers are the favorite to acquire Dwight Howard, then the Brooklyn Nets are a clear second. The Nets already boast a strong roster, consisting of star guard Deron Williams and the talented Joe Johnson. They also recently resigned Kris Humphries, a solid player in his own right.
Brooklyn is already a good team, and like L.A., the addition of Howard would make them serious contenders, second in the East only to Miami, but they could easily give the Heat a run for their money if Howard comes to BK. Couple that with the fact that Howard would be playing in New York at a brand new arena, and you have a definite recipe for success.
It looked like the Nets were beginning to fall back in the race to land Howard, but according to AOL Sporting News, there was never a meeting between reps from Orlando and L.A. that was supposed to have taken place. So, maybe the Nets will wind up stealing Howard from L.A. after all.
The Rockets would absolutely love to acquire Dwight Howard. They've had a void at Center ever since Yao Ming was forced to retire due to injury, which Howard would surely fill. They recently inked now former Knicks star Jeremy Lin, which helps them somewhat, but they're still on the outside looking in at the two favorites: Brooklyn and L.A.
The Rockets did use their amnesty clause on Luis Scola in an attempt to make it easier for them to sign Howard. But even if they did get the Magic star, they wouldn't be title contenders, which will obviously really hurt their cause. Howard definitely wants to win now, so naturally going somewhere that he can win multiple rings is probably at the top of his list.
If he wants rings, Houston isn't the place for him to go, plain and simple.
One possible scenario that has seldom been mentioned is for Howard to remain in Orlando in 2012. While it doesn't seem like that it will happen, here's one way that it could:
Howard has destroyed his image in his home city with his conduct this off-season, but if he were to do in interview with Jim Grey or another top reporter, and explain his actions, as Skip Bayless and Steven A. Smith explain in this video (starts at 4:30), it could certainly help his cause and image immensely.
It's a long shot, but don't totally count out Howard returning to Orlando. It's been his home for his entire career and, in a perfect world, he would probably want to remain there. Crazier things have happened, and while I don't necessarily expect Howard to stay, it would be a cathartic ending for him if he signed an extension and remained in Orlando.
Unfortunately, Orlando just doesn't appear to have the pieces to entice Howard to stay. But this team has been to the NBA Finals before and you never know what will happen when it comes to NBA Free Agency.
There are two teams still lingering out there that are unlikely suitors for Howard, but must still be mentioned.
In Dallas, it's no secret that celebrity owner Mark Cuban would love for Howard for join forces with Dirk Nowitzki.
However, it's more likely that if Howard doesn't sign a contract extension this year that the Mavericks could acquire him in 2013 at the end of the season. So, if he does indeed keep his current contract and makes it clear he won't extend it, keep the Mavericks in mind for next summer.
The next and even more unlikely team is the Atlanta Hawks.
Howard was born and raised in the ATL, which certainly helps their case to land him. They do have Howard's former AAU teammate Josh Smith, but again it appears that it's not all that likely that Howard would play in Atlanta this year.
But similar to Dallas, if he neglects to sign an extension, perhaps he and another free-agent like Chris Paul could team up there in 2013.
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