Debunking Myths in Golden State Warriors' Pursuit of Dwight Howard

Joseph AkeleyAnalyst IJuly 4, 2013

Debunking Myths in Golden State Warriors' Pursuit of Dwight Howard

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    For better or for worse, the Golden State Warriors are in the thick of the Dwight Howard offseason circus. 

    According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the Warriors made a great impression on the big man in their Monday meeting and are a "factor" in the sweepstakes. 

    Fans and scribes have spread a lot of misinformation related to the Warriors' pursuit of the mercurial center. 

    Here I'll try my best to debunk of a few of those untruths about the Howard hoopla. 

Lakers Value Expiring Contracts

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    The Lakers have only one player on the books for the 2014-15 season: It's Steve Nash at $9.7 million

    Why would a team that has that much cap space want to take on more expiring contracts?

    What the Lakers would be after in a sign-and-trade is talent.

    For the Warriors to acquire Howard, they'd need to trade about $22 million in cap space for the 2013-14 season back to the Lakers. Of the three Warriors who have an expensive expiring deal, only Andrew Bogut has any value. 

    Even then, the Warriors would have to throw in other players to match Howard's salary because Bogut is making $14.2 million in 2013-14.

    To summarize, the Lakers obviously value bad players with expiring contracts over bad players with long-term contracts. Wouldn't anyone?

    What they don't need are talentless players with expiring contracts. In other words, they have no reason to accept a deal with Richard Jefferson or Andris Biedrins in it unless they get back young assets and/or draft picks too. 

    If the Lakers aren't high on Bogut, they'd have no reason to accept a trade with him as the main piece. They'd rather let Howard go elsewhere and have fewer salary-cap penalties to deal with. 

Lakers Wouldn't Trade Dwight to Division Rival

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    Would the Lakers prefer to keep Dwight Howard out of the Western Conference?

    Probably.

    But considering he's almost assuredly going to end up on a Western Conference team, keeping him out of the division shouldn't be on their list of priorities. 

    Remember, in a typical NBA schedule, teams play four games against division foes and three-to-four games against out-of-division conference foes. 

    In other words, Howard could do just as much destruction to the Lakers playing for the Houston Rockets or Dallas Mavericks as he could for the Warriors. 

Warriors Would Be Getting Ripped Off by Including Barnes or Thompson

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    This is a basic case of fans overvaluing the players on their favorite team.

    Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson are both valuable assets. They could become stars, although I find that unlikely. 

    Right now, they're very good players with potential to be great. 

    Meanwhile, Dwight Howard might be the best center in the NBA. 

    Sure, the Lakers were disappointing last year, but Howard still averaged 17.1 points, 12.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. Just as impressively, he only missed six games despite all of his injury issues.

    We're talking about a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, a guy who led this roster to the NBA Finals. 

    If the Warriors end up trading ONE (not both) of the two young assets and Bogut for Howard, they'd be getting solid value.

    Keep in mind, if they pulled off this sign-and-trade, they'd have Howard under contract for four years. They'd still have cap space from Jefferson and Biedrins coming off the books after the 2013-14 season. With that money, they could pay for a valuable free-agent swingman to form a starting five that could win an NBA title. 

    The alternative is to keep the roster intact and try to find a center at the end of this season (or re-sign Bogut), but the Warriors likely won't be able to lock up a big man of Howard's talent. Nabbing Howard now might just be the best road to championship contention. 

Conclusion

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    The Warriors need two things to happen to land Howard. 

    First, they need Howard to tell the Lakers that he wants to be traded to the Warriors. 

    Second, the Warriors need to entice the Lakers with an offer that Mitch Kupchak feels is valuable enough to justify taking on more luxury-tax penalties that they could avoid if they simply let him walk.  

    Let's assume for a second that Howard does tell the Lakers he wants to go to Golden State. 

    In this case, the Warriors should absolutely try to lowball Kupchak. They should offer a package with Bogut and draft picks first. Remember, the Lakers have no leverage in this situation right now. They might accept his offer to avoid the embarrassment of losing Howard for nothing. 

    If they say no to the offer, the Warriors have two choices: They can walk away, or they can offer either Barnes or Thompson as part of their final offer.

    I doubt the Warriors are desperate enough to offer both Thompson and Barnes. And according to Warriors beat writer Marcus Thompson, they pitched to Howard that he'd get to play with Stephen Curry, Thompson and Barnes. 

    If the Warriors could somehow acquire Howard without giving up Curry, Barnes or Thompson, it would be a coup for the ages.