What If Dwight Howard Had Wound Up with the Brooklyn Nets?

Thomas Duffy@@TJDhoopsFeatured ColumnistJanuary 24, 2014

Oct 16, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) warms up against the Orlando Magic during the first half at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports
Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Wake up everyone, you're just having a Dwightmare.

It's okay, don't be scared. Dwight Howard won't be a free agent for at least another three years.

Sadly for the All-Star center, we can never just pay attention to his 18 points and 12.6 boards a night.

Howard told Jessica Camerato of Basketball Insiders, recently, that a trade to the Brooklyn Nets was “promised” to him in the midst of his ugly departure from the Orlando Magic back in 2011-12.

Here's what Howard told Camerato about the prospect of a trade to the Nets:

I thought the Brooklyn thing was going to come through at the end of the season. It was something that was promised, but it didn’t happen. Once it didn’t happen I figured everything happens for a reason. I just let it go. I was upset for a while, but I just let it go.

What’s done is done. D12 is happily thriving with the Houston Rockets after an awkward, disappointing 2013 campaign with the Los Angeles Lakers. A Howard-Nets pairing is completely out of the picture for now.

But hey, let's have some fun.


A totally different look for the Nets

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Orlando declined the Nets’ final offer which included four future first rounder picks, Brook Lopez, Marshon Brooks and Kris Humphries in exchange for Howard, Jason Richardson, Chris Duhon and Earl Clark.

Feb 29, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard (12) reacts against the Washington Wizards during the first half at the Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

After getting turned down, Brooklyn signed Lopez to a four-year, $60 million deal and then traded a ton of role players (including Jordan Farmar, Antony Morrow and DeShawn Stevenson) and a first round pick for Joe Johnson.

Had Brooklyn managed to pluck Howard from Orlando, it’s probable that Johnson wouldn’t be a Net.

And in all likelihood, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett wouldn’t be suiting up in black and white this season either, being that the trade which brought them to BKN was similar to the proposed deal for D12.

That would've left Deron Williams and Howard to christen the Barclays Center in the team’s inaugural season after making the move from New Jersey.

And that could've gone one of two ways.


Was Brooklyn a good fit?

No caption needed, Kobe's face says it all.
No caption needed, Kobe's face says it all.Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The first scenario includes Howard meshing well with Williams, becoming the face of the team and carrying them to an NBA finals appearance. He was able to do it in Orlando, but D-Will could’ve served as the second superstar that he always needed.

To gain a better understanding of the second possible outcome if this trade had gone through, feel free to ask Kobe Bryant how 2013 worked out for his Lakers.

Despite his phenomenal athleticism and defensive prowess, a three-ring circus seems to follow Howard around, especially in regard to free agency. There is a chance that what happened to Los Angeles last season could’ve happened to Brooklyn if the Nets were able to acquire D12.

It’s impossible to definitively say that one scenario was more likely than the other.

But after coming into the 2013-14 season with a (seemingly) loaded roster that boasted 35 cumulative All-Star appearances from the starting five alone, it seemed as though the Nets were better off without Superman.

But then they started playing. Lopez went down for the year, Pierce and Garnett looked their ages, and Williams' ankles gave him some trouble.

To be fair, the Nets are arguably one of the hotter teams in the NBA right now. They’ve got the league’s best record since January 1, and have looked like the powerhouse that they were supposed to be over the summer.

But they’re still under .500, and there's a good chance that their next draft pick won’t come until 2019.

Had the Orlando trade panned out, the Nets would virtually be in the same situation draft-wise. But they’d have Dwight Howard.


Potential empire now just a dream

This could've been a special duo.
This could've been a special duo.Noah Graham/Getty Images

Who knows, maybe the Nets will surge into the second half of the season with the same “swag” that D-Will talked about (as per David Murphy of Bleacher Report) and make a title run. But the window of opportunity to do so after this season is closing.

At times, Pierce and Garnett have looked like the NBA champions and first ballot Hall of Famers that they are. But there have been way too many instances where they look like Uncle Drew—you know, before Kyrie Irving starts playing hard.

Long-term, short-term, every term—the Nets would have a brighter future and a better team with Dwight Howard.

Last season, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith reported that Howard told Rudy Gay, “on the court,” that he made a mistake by getting traded to the Toronto Raptors. D12 also told Gay that he “should have waited” until next year so that they could join forces in Brooklyn.

Williams, Howard and Gay would’ve been a formidable trio, worthy of the notoriously overused “big three,” designation.

But sadly for the Nets, none of this happened and will never come to fruition.

Well, until Howard stomps his feet and throws another tantrum, that is.


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