Warriors Reportedly Looking to Trade Players to Clear Room for Dwight Howard

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistJuly 4, 2013

If reports about the Golden State Warriors' current plans are accurate, we may have our first real indication of a major contender in the chase for free agent Dwight Howard.

According to ESPN's Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst, the Warriors have aggressively begun trying to unload their expiring contracts to teams, with the express purpose of creating enough cap space to sign Howard outright, without the need for a sign-and-trade:

UPDATE: Friday, July 5, at 6:15 p.m. ET by Kyle Vassalo

TNT's David Aldridge confirms that Howard has chosen the Rockets, but SI's Chris Mannix claims agent Dan Fagen says otherwise:

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UPDATE: Friday, July 5, at 5:35 p.m. ET by Kyle Vassalo

TNT's David Aldridge sheds light on how the trade with Utah impacts Jarrett Jack and Paul Millsap:

Aldridge also reveals Howard's new top two, in no particular order:

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UPDATE: Friday, July 5, at 5:20 p.m. ET by Kyle Vassalo

Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski says prior to the trade for Iguodala, the Warriors had been out of contention for Howard, but there is no word on whether or not the move impacts Howard's decision:

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UPDATE: Friday, July 5, at 4:21 p.m. ET by Kyle Vassalo

Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski provides details on the trade that cleared room for the Warriors to sign Andre Iguodala:

With this signing, Wojnarowski suggested the Warriors had dropped out of the Dwight Howard sweepstakes, but later retracted his statement:

CBS' Ken Berger provides details on the potential moves the Warriors would make if Dwight Howard chose them as his next destination:

The upshot: If Dwight Howard chooses Golden State as his free-agent destination and the Lakers are amenable to a sign-and-trade arrangement, the Warriors are willing and able to engage, league sources told CBSSports.com.

The centerpiece of any Howard sign-and-trade with the Lakers would be center Andrew Bogut and his $14 million expiring contract, plus one of Golden State's young studs -- Harrison Barnes or Klay Thompson, league sources said. However, there has been no indication from Howard's camp -- holed up in Aspen, Colo., to make his free-agent decision -- that he's made a decision. Nor has there been any indication from the Lakers that if Howard elects to leave, they'll be willing to facilitate his departure.

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UPDATE: Friday, July 5, at 3:07 p.m. ET by Kyle Vassalo

Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski sheds light on the Warriors' potential trading partners:

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UPDATE: Thursday, July 4, at 11:22 p.m. ET by Kyle Vassalo

According to the New York Post's Peter Vecsey, the Warriors may have a suitor for players they're trying to deal: 

Andrew Bogut weighed in with an ominous Tweet of his own:

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---Original Text---

The Warriors have three significant expiring contracts on their roster—centers Andrew Bogut and Andris Biedrins and forward Richard Jefferson. A subsequent report from Stein and Windhorst confirmed that Golden State is looking to move each player for the sole purpose of signing Howard.

There is no word on how close the Warriors have come to trading any of the three, nor are there any teams named as potential suitors. 

Former Los Angeles Times writer Mark Heisler indicates that the Lakers may be open to a sign and trade if the Warriors were willing to include Harrison Barnes, Klay Thompson or Stephen Curry:

Following Chris Paul's decision to re-sign with the Los Angeles Clippers, Howard is easily the highest-profile free agent left on the market. The center's decision on where he will play next season looms over the entire offseason. He met with five teams—Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks and Warriors—over the first two days of free agency and has yet to indicate which way he's leaning.

The Lakers can offer a five-year deal that maxes out at $118 million. Each of the four other teams can only give Howard a four-year, $88 million deal, unless the Lakers agree to a sign-and-trade—something they've given no indication they're willing to do.

As such, Golden State came into the process as a massive underdog. Equipped with major salary burdens that far exceed the NBA's salary cap—and possibly the luxury tax, depending on whether the Warriors re-sign current free agents—the meeting seemed like a mere formality. 

However, the Warriors reportedly walked away emboldened after the 27-year-old center was impressed by their pitch. The team sent a contingent of officials—owner Joe Lacob, general manager Bob Myers and head coach Mark Jackson—to pitch Howard on joining the team's burgeoning core.

Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Jackson had a particularly strong effect on Howard:

Golden State also boasts a stable of young talent who got their first taste of playoff success this past season. Stephen Curry is one of the game's best young point guards, and his red-hot shooting helped push the Warriors to the second round of the playoffs. They were ultimately eliminated by the San Antonio Spurs, but not before giving the Western Conference champs a six-game scare.

With Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes also looking like building blocks for the future, the acquisition of Howard could push Golden State into true contention. The problem is finding teams willing to take on those salaries without giving up those players. Stein and Windhorst's report notes that while Golden State is willing to give up future draft picks, it has balked at adding any of the young stars to a deal. 

Bogut ($14 million), Jefferson ($11.05 million) and Biedrins ($9 million) have a combined cap figure of a little over $34 million for next season. Neither Jefferson nor Biedrins made much of an impact last season, but Bogut was a vital cog in the Warriors' playoff run. They would likely have to be traded away individually, with few teams having enough room to take on multiple exorbitant salaries. 

Sources also told ESPN that the Rockets and Mavericks are still the biggest threats to pilfer Howard from Los Angeles. Should Golden State find a way to shed this salary, though, the entire ballgame could change in an instant. 


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