There are certain players throughout the NBA capable of shifting between the 4 and 5—Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan come to mind—but Superman isn't one of them. He can flash those pearly whites of his and pretend everything will be fine all he wants; he's not fooling anyone.
Even traditional power forwards must be able to score outside of the paint, which Howard can't do. Neither can Omer Asik. Both inhabit the same, confined space. Playing them alongside one another will be a floor-spacing disaster that has the potential to render a once-potent Houston Rockets offense anemic.
Rather than shifting Howard to the 4 and watching their title ambitions perish beneath a faulty offensive prototype, the Rockets should take to the trade market and acquire a stretch 4 who makes sense. Howard is at his best surrounded by shooters (see the Orlando Magic), not when he's tasked with playing next to a more conventional tower (see the Los Angeles Lakers).
Houston has the assets to make a splash, too. Furnished with a number of promising young prospects and two potential starters on almost-reasonable contracts (Jeremy Lin, Asik), the Rockets must think big—so that they can run small.
A small forward at heart, the 6'8" Danny Granger would make for a magnificent stretch 4. Or maybe he could just allow Chandler Parsons to switch positions.
Knee injuries limited him to five games last season, but he's only one year removed from averaging 18.7 points per game while shooting 38.1 percent from deep. He's also connected on 38.4 percent of his deep balls for his career, making him an ideal floor spacer, or everything Howard and Asik aren't.
Trading for him would admittedly be a tad complicated. For one, the Indiana Pacers must be open to striking a deal, which isn't all that far-fetched. The rise of Paul George coupled with the emergence of Lance Stephenson could leave Granger expendable.
Ideally, Granger would serve as a sixth man in Indy, so as to not break up the chemistry the starting lineup built last year. But he's already said he expects to start next season. Handing the organization's reins to George is one thing; ceding your starting spot to Stephenson would be another.
Should the Pacers find bringing Granger off the bench isn't a realistic option or he fails to assimilate into their new dynamic, his expiring contract could be had for the right price.
Take note, Houston.
What, you were expecting Kevin Love? No doubt he'd be a great fit in Houston, but unfortunately for every team in the NBA, Flip Saunders isn't David Kahn-incompetent. Love isn't going anywhere.
Derrick Williams might or rather, he could.
To this point Williams hasn't been what you would consider an ideal stretch 4. He's shooting just 30.5 percent from behind the rainbow for his career and, per Synergy Sports (subscription required), he shot 36.5 percent from the floor as a spot-up marksman in 2012-13.
Minny is in a state of transition, though. Saunders has previously said Williams is working hard to improve his game, with the hope that he can play both the 3 and 4 next season. If that's the kind of role Williams is tailoring his game to, then the Rockets would welcome an improved three-point clip.
At the very least, Williams gives Houston more options offensively at the 4 than Howard or Asik ever could. He did shoot 33.2 percent from the outside last season, building upon his rookie clip by more than six percentage points.
Obtainable stretch forwards don't grow on trees, and Williams at least has the potential to develop into a three-point gunner, which is more than I can say for Howard.
Ryan Anderson is the ultimate stretch 4. He was a stretch 4 even before it was cool to be a stretch 4. Shooting threes at the power forward spot is his business, and business is good.
In his first year with the then-New Orleans Hornets, Anderson jacked up 6.9 bombs per game, burying 38.2 percent of them. His career clip from downtown currently stands at 38.4 percent.
Immediately after Howard put pen-to-paper on his new contract, an Asik-Anderson trade was reportedly in the works. Nothing ever came to fruition, but the framework is there.
New Orleans is in need of a center not named Jason Smith or Greg Stiemsma and Houston has to get its hands on a shooter taller than 6'7". Asik has already requested a trade from the Rockets and Ryno spent three years raining down threes next to Howard in Orlando.
Make this swap, or some version of it, happen.
What better way for the Milwaukee Bucks to delve deeper into their halfhearted tank job than by dealing who projects to be their (second-) leading scorer?
Ersan Ilyasova swished 44.4 percent of his deep balls last season en route to averaging 13.2 points per game, and is one of the few stretch forwards who also doubles as an actual power forward. Go figure.
The way Milwaukee is presently assembled it won't have enough shots to go around. Gaggles of shooters were brought in over the offseason to fill out a team that seems scared to be more or less than mediocre.
Prying Ilyasova from the Bucks isn't going to be cheap since 1) general manager John Hammond tends to overvalue his players and 2) Milwaukee, in a blaze of utter stupidity, already overpaid Zaza Pachulia, meaning their interest in Asik will be nonexistent.
Fortunately, the Rockets have six additional second-round picks headed their way through 2017 (minus the one they'll send to Philly next summer), and you know how much Milwaukee loves those obscure selections.
Perhaps a third team willing to take on Asik (or Lin) would need to get involved to satisfy any financial requirements. Or maybe the Bucks will pull the trigger the Zaza Pachulia of trades. All I know is if there's a deal out there to be found, the Rockets better find it.
Mark Cuban would never ever trade Dirk Nowitzki. Never, ever. Unless, of course, Dirk asked for it. Which he would never do. Unless, of course, the Dallas Mavericks' roster changed his mind. Which it might.
Big D missed out on landing another star free agent for the second straight summer and was subsequently forced to piece together a roster filled with misfits and mediocre talent.
Only this time, the Mavs' patchwork extends well beyond one year. Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon aren't going anywhere next summer and while Dallas should have some cap space to work with, is Nowitzki prepared to endure another offseason's worth of unfulfilled promises?
Nowitzki enters free agency himself next summer, at which point he can leave on his own accord. But say the Mavs get off to another slow start and it becomes clear they aren't making a playoff push, doesn't Dirk consider waving his no-trade clause to play for a contender? Wouldn't Dallas have to surrender to his request, given all he's done? Aren't the Mavs obligated to at least listen to any package consisting of Asik—an upgrade over Brandan Wright and Samuel Dalembert—Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas and whoever else it takes to make it work financially?
As much as Nowitzki loves Dallas, he's not keen on the idea of playing for a mediocre faction, one that's only drifting further away from contending for a title. Once the season begins, maybe he sees the Mavs aren't championship bound. Maybe he and Dallas reach a mutual crossroads.
Maybe the Rockets swoop in with an offer (likely involving a third team) that makes this possible. Just maybe.