If nothing materializes in the various trade discussions, however, new general manager Danny Ferry just might make a run at the superstar in the summer of 2013 according to HOOPSWORLD's Alex Kennedy:
If Howard becomes an unrestricted free agent next offseason, the Atlanta Hawks will aggressively pursue the six-time All-Star and try to lure the superstar center back to his hometown.
With other Georgia natives like Josh Smith and Lou Williams leading the way in Atlanta, there's sure to be some nostalgic appeal to a return home. Kennedy notes that Howard's relationship with newly acquired guard Anthony Morrow wouldn't hurt either.
A lot would have to go right in order for the Hawks to have a serious chance, but it's far too soon to entirely discount the possibility.
As unproductive as negotiations with the Brooklyn Nets turned out to be, there's a very real possibility that the orchestration of a three-team deal with the Los Angeles Lakers and either the Houston Rockets or Cleveland Cavaliers will share a similar fate.
But, even if the Hawks' chances at landing Howard are at all plausible, Ferry should exercise extreme caution in such a pursuit.
Given the current composition of the roster, someone like Howard may not be the answer.
For one thing, he'd force the organization to either trade center Al Horford or move him to the power forward position. There's a good argument to be made that Horford is a better fit at the 4 anyway, but then what becomes of Josh Smith?
Smith isn't a terrible perimeter shooter, but he's far better equipped to do most of his damage in the paint. Playing him at small forward probably isn't an acceptable solution.
If Horford were moved—likely in exchange for a talented perimeter scorer—we're left to contemplate the wisdom of pairing Smith and Howard in the frontcourt.
On the defensive end, they'd be a force with which to contend. There's no question about that.
Developing a successful chemistry on offense is a different story. Howard's omnipresence in the painted area would all but force Smith to look for perimeter shots.
There's a reason a spread-4 like Ryan Anderson made so much sense alongside Howard; the all-star center inevitably clogs the lane and makes it difficult for other bigs to get close to the basket.
That's partly why Glen Davis was so incompatible with Howard in Orlando.
It's also a reason the Hawks may be better off keeping a guy like Horford at center. He's an exceptional midrange shooter and allows Smith to post up or drive to the rim without worrying about running into Horford or the guy assigned to guard him.
A successful offensive scheme has as much to do with floor spacing as it does individual talent.
In that respect, Howard is a double-edged sword.
More importantly, what happens if the Hawks don't emerge as contenders right away? Will Howard show the kind of patience he ran out of in Orlando?
Even if he were initially compelled by the storybook homecoming, would he remain content with a franchise that so often flies under the radar?
Just don't count on it.
The Hawks will indeed find themselves flush with cap space, but it might be better spent on additions to the wing like Tyreke Evans or James Harden. Howard won't be the only big name hitting the market, and it wouldn't be prudent to make a big splash on such a questionable fit.
Atlanta is in fine position to make some noise in the East over the next few years, and they don't need Dwight Howard to do so.
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