With the players and owners unable to come to an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement, we as fans find ourselves as the unfortunate third party in the midst of an NBA lockout.
During this time of the year, we usually see plenty of trades and free agent signings, but the 2011 offseason won't officially begin until the two parties are no longer at odds.
As soon as an agreement is reached, there will be a couple big names smack dab in the middle of the rumor mill.
Perhaps the biggest is that of Dwight Howard. Everyone would love to have the league's best center on their team, but there are only a few teams who might actually have a realistic shot at him. Here are five organizations that may be able to secure him through a trade this offseason.
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Orlando Gets: Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Taj Gibson and Draft Picks
Chicago Gets: Dwight Howard and Quentin Richardson
The combination of Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose would have the potential to be the very best duo in the entire league. If Rose's jump shot continues to improve, pick-and-rolls between these two would be nearly impossible to defend.
The Magic would clearly upgrade at small forward with this trade and many think they would at power forward as well (though I think Ryan Anderson is better than Gibson). Of course, they'd lose the best center in the league. But at least they'd get another solid defensive center in return.
Orlando Gets: Monta Ellis, Andris Biedrins, Ekpe Udoh, Klay Thompson, Jeremy Tyler and Draft Picks
Golden State Gets: Dwight Howard and J.J. Redick
Much like the Bulls deal, this one would yield a sweet point guard/center duo. Stephen Curry is on the verge of superstardom and Howard is obviously already there. A starting five of Curry, Redick, Dorrell Wright, David Lee and Howard would be very scary.
Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress reported that a deal very similar to this has already been offered. Apparently, Orlando turned that down. Perhaps sweetening the deal with Klay Thompson and Jeremy Tyler would help.
Orlando Gets: Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries, Marshon Brooks and Draft Picks
New Jersey Gets: Dwight Howard
For the third slide in a row, I'm looking at what would be an outrageous connection between a point guard and center (assuming Deron Williams isn't in Turkey). The deal I've laid out here would only work if the Nets work Humphries into the deal in a sign-and-trade fashion (he's a free agent this offseason).
The Magic would get a clear upgrade at power forward, a talented young center and a wild card in Marshon Brooks who I think will end up being the best shooting guard from this year's draft class.
Orlando Gets: Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, Ron Artest and Draft Picks
Los Angeles Gets: Dwight Howard and Gilbert Arenas
I actually think this deal would be an overall upgrade to Orlando's frontcourt. If Bynum was the focal point of an offense, he'd be at least the second best center in the league. And Lamar Odom is significantly better than Brandon Bass and Ryan Anderson.
I would start all three incoming Lakers, but I think Stan Van Gundy will stick with his old buddy Hedo in the starting lineup. If that was the case, Orlando would have a great defensive stopper off the bench in Artest.
That would make a possible starting five of Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick, Hedo Turkoglu, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum. You could argue that's a better looking lineup than the one the Magic had out there during the 2010-11 season.
For the Lakers, taking on Arenas's contract wouldn't be ideal, but adding Howard would be worth it (and as bad as Arenas was last year, he'd still be an upgrade over Derek Fisher).
Dwight and Kobe would be one heck of a duo and Pau Gasol would still be there as well. The one real hole in the lineup would be at small forward. They'd have to hope that Devin Ebanks makes rapid strides or that Luke Walton could miraculously return to his 2006-07 form (11 points, five rebounds, four assists a game).
Adding Howard would not only keep the Lakers in the conversation for titles now, he'd be a great foundation for the team to build around for the future.
Orlando Gets: LeBron James
Miami Gets: Dwight Howard
Obviously, this isn't going to happen, but unbridled speculation is what I'm all about.
I think Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Dwight Howard would be a more balanced "big three" than the one that's currently in Miami and Mario Chalmers and Mike Miller would be solid options for the other two positions.
The Magic would get the most naturally gifted athlete in the history of the NBA and a guy to build around for the future who won't bolt when the end of his contract is near like many others do--oh wait...