NBA Trade & Free Agent Buzz: Dwight Howard and Chris Paul Could Be Clippers?

Andrew PierluissiCorrespondent IIIJune 15, 2011

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 28:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic stands at the scorer's table after being earning a technical foul against Zaza Pachulia #27 of the Atlanta Hawks during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on April 28, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The NBA season just ended and it ended in spectacular fashion.  Two superstars and all-time greats finally got their well-deserved rings in Dallas while a crownless king spent another year of his career without getting his.

Thank you, Dallas and Miami, for an amazing series but now the offseason starts.  This year’s offseason will not be all that interesting as the free-agent pool is not all that great and the draft class looks to be a weak one.

Instead of focusing on this year’s offseason because of these reasons, let’s fast forward over to 2012 when things will get very interesting.  Let’s fast forward to the summer of Chris Paul and Dwight Howard.

Paul and Howard can both opt out of their contracts and become free agents in 2012.  They will be highly coveted by pretty much any team that has any sufficient cap space.  With a year still to pass, there are teams bound to create cap space for the sole purpose of signing one or both of these superstars.

While superstar marriages might have lost some of their reputation with Miami’s loss to Dallas in this year’s NBA Finals, people tend to forget that reaching that level in just one year together is still a big accomplishment.

Chris Paul and Dwight Howard could be thinking about this when it's time to chose a team.  If they chose the Clippers, they would also join two more superstars in the making.  All of the sudden, a superstar foursome would be an intriguing possibility.  Of course, there are always financial limitations so let’s take a look.

For the 2012-2013 season, the Clippers only have slightly over $24 million in committed salaries, which includes a qualifying offer to Eric Gordon.  Gordon will likely decline the offer and demand a salary in the $8 to $10 million range.  Also, that includes the $8.5 million salary of Mo Williams who will likely be traded (likely for expiring contracts) if the Clippers consider signing Paul. 

These things considered, the Clippers will have about $22 million in salary commitments, which would leave them about $36 million in cap space.  This would be enough to sign both Paul and Howard to max contracts, especially if the new CBA lowers player’s salaries.

The Clippers can keep their young guys like Eric Bledsoe, Randy Foye, Craig Smith, Ryan Gomes and DeAndre Jordan, or sign similar players for a relatively small cost.  If Paul and Howard sign similar deals to what LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh signed, it would allow the Clippers to keep their salary commitment to just about this year’s salary cap of $58 million for their first year fielding the likes of Paul, Howard, Gordon and Blake Griffin.

This brings us to the next point, re-signing Blake Griffin.  Blake Griffin is already a phenomenon in the NBA, and keeping him will require top dollar.  Griffin will likely demand a max contract that will likely be close to what Paul and Howard would sign for.

What this all means is that the Clippers salary would go up exponentially to almost $70 million in 2013 and as much as $90 million by the time the foursome near the end of their contracts.

Of course, several factors will have a severe impact in what the franchise decides or is able to do come the summer of 2012.  Nothing is known about what the new CBA will look like and the kind of restrictions it will put on franchises.

Another factor of great influence is that the Clippers owner, Donald Sterling, is not a man that likes to spend money “Marc Cuban style”. 

The chances of something monumental like that occurring are close to zero, but so were the chances of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh teaming up.  The ice has been broken, and it would not be totally surprising to see more starts pairing up to challenge for titles.

Do you think this move is remotely possible? Any advantages or disadvantages to such a move? Voice your opinion in the comments section below.