Dwight Howard, starting center for the Orlando Magic, will be on the move in the next 12 months.
Whether it's via trade or free agency, the big man is going to garner a ton of attention. Teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics have a great basketball tradition to pitch, while a team like the New Jersey Nets can offer him a boatload of money and the chance to star for the franchise as they move to Brooklyn, NY.
All of that is well and good, but what are the five destinations that give Howard the best chance at success?
Fans were angered last summer by LeBron James' decision to join forces with Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat. They were angry for hundreds of different reasons.
While it's a great place to live, and a fun place to party, I think we can all agree the Heat don't exactly have the world's best fans.
This is not breaking news. It's been this way forever. I guess fans were just upset that the "best player" (debatable) didn't choose to play in a better basketball city like Chicago, New York or Los Angeles.
With that in mind, here are five places that would be the best fit for superstar Dwight Howard.
The Golden State Warriors are not as big of a long-shot in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes as you may think.
If they can move Andris Biedrins or Monta Ellis (or preferably both), then the Warriors will have more than $20 million coming off the books. That leaves them with David Lee, Stephen Curry and Ekpe Udoh as the only players signed past 2012. Let's add Dorell Wright and Klay Thompson to that list, under the assumption that the Warriors lock up the two young studs.
Considering the fact that Golden State is known to have one of the top fan bases in basketball (maybe not in size, but in passion), don't you think that would be a terrific opportunity for D12?
He could be in California where the sun always shines, play with one of the best offensive guards in the NBA (Curry) and be worshiped by one of the most emotional and energetic fan bases in sports today. With all of their free cap space, the Warriors will be able to surround Howard with sufficient help, both in the backcourt and frontcourt.
With Curry, Thompson, Wright, Lee and Howard, Golden State would probably be the most offensively gifted team in the world.
Add a few bangers and hustle guys in free agency?
And with Howard, who has won the defensive player of the year award three years straight, the Warriors could be a top defensive team as well.
The New Jersey Nets.
I know, it doesn't sound that intriguing for a player trying to advance his career, but hear me out.
Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov will do anything he can to build a meaningful franchise in New Jersey. He knows that you need superstars to win, which is why he went out and traded for Deron Williams. Unfortunately, Williams is looking to bolt.
And why not?
They have a dysfunctional team that isn't in position to win anything significant in the near future. Unless, of course, the New Jersey Nets trade for Dwight Howard.
The cap space is there, and the trade assets are sort of there (Brook Lopez, draft picks). The Nets would have to make a godfather offer to get him, but D12 is very obviously worth it—he is a top five player in the NBA. Also, he would almost assuredly keep Williams in a Nets uniform.
The last piece of business to discuss is the fact the Nets are moving to the Barclays Center of Brooklyn for the 2012 NBA season. This is huge news for the Nets, something that could actually bring some glitz and glamor to a franchise that has been stuck in the New York Knicks' shadow for a long time.
Howard would be the face of the franchise, the face of Brooklyn and the face of hope for depressed Nets fans everywhere.
Since Blake Griffin started unleashing vicious, mind-blowing dunks like they were going out of style, the Los Angeles Clippers have turned from the league's laughing stock into a franchise on the rise (pun intended).
Even more good news for Los Angeles Clippers fans?
Dwight Howard should be seriously considering the Clippers. No, this is not a joke. Donald Sterling, the much maligned owner who apparently yells inappropriate things at his own players, is the only stumbling block for a potential marriage of D12 and the Clips.
On the other hand, though, there is Griffin. The kid is a total superstar and a great teammate. Would it even be fair to have Griffin and Howard on the same team? Their combined vertical leaps are probably more than 100 inches. Totally insane. Regardless, they would make for a ridiculous tag team of high-flying dunks and alley-oops.
With Chris Kaman and Randy Foye's contracts running out after the 2011 season, the Clips will have $16 million free. Plus, they have only three players signed past 2012, so they could back load Howard's contract if need be.
Aside from Blake Griffin, Los Angeles has some other terrific players.
Eric Gordon made a huge jump last season and should continue his improvement this year. Mo Williams is obviously an above-average point guard and a terrific outside shooter. DeAndre Jordan would most likely become a backup (if Howard joins), but he has shown lots of potential. Lastly, Eric Bledsoe has given fans glimpses of his ability, but he is still a year or two away.
With Howard and Griffin wearing red, the Los Angeles Clippers will finally be able to challenge Kobe Bryant's purple and gold Los Angeles Lakers.
And you know what? I think the Clips would win.
With Shaquille O'Neal's retirement and Nenad Krstic's decision to play in Russia, the Boston Celtics are suddenly extremely weak in the frontcourt.
Who better to fill the Diesel's shoes than Dwight Howard?
The Celtics would have a nearly impossible time trying to trade for Howard , so their best chance is for the NBA lockout to wipe out the entire season. That would open up the door for Boston to swoop in and grab the superstar in free agency.
Listen, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are not getting any younger. I'm not suggesting that Howard coming to Boston would be a guaranteed title or anything like that. I'm merely suggesting that going to Boston would be a great career move.
The fans there have a championship sickness.
Howard will be thrown into the fire of Boston's success—fans will demand perfection, demand a championship. That will be good for Howard, a player whose killer instinct has been questioned and a player who has fallen short too many times.
The Celtics are on a quest for "Banner 18," and Howard could be their leader.
A dominant force on defense like Garnett and Bill Russell, and an athletic, freakish offensive talent never seen around these parts, Howard would assuredly be worshiped by the Boston faithful. With the Big Three era coming to a close, the Celtics would transition from Garnett, Allen and Pierce to a dynamic duo of D12 and Rondo—a mouth-watering alley-oop combination for years to come.
The Los Angeles Lakers' front office (specifically Jim Buss) must get their heads on straight. Trading Andrew Bynum and a first round pick (or two) for Dwight Howard would be an absolutely brilliant trade.
Bynum is a certifiable beast, no questions asked. But he's only 23, and he's already had a whole bunch of knee surgeries. He's seven feet tall, can block shots, and has improved his offensive game immensely. Unfortunately, none of that matters if you are sitting on the bench. Bynum has missed 160 games in just six seasons.
He's missed just seven games in seven years. Incredible. It's amazing to me how the Lakers don't see this. Besides for the obvious health benefits, Howard is just a better overall player. In 2010, Howard scored 11 more PPG, grabbed almost five more RPG, shot better from the field, averaged more blocks and steals, and played 10 more MPG.
How are these two even mentioned in the same sentence?
Howard is a top-five player, while Bynum is, at best, a top-30 player.
So what happens if Howard goes to LA? Yes, he has to share the spotlight with Kobe for a couple of years. But after that, he will be the face of the Los Angeles Lakers, possibly the most famous basketball team in NBA history.
And until then?
I'm sure he and Kobe can figure out a way to win a few championships.
That would probably be pretty good for Superman's career, don't you think?
What do you think? Are these plausible scenarios? Are there teams better suited to help Dwight's career? Let me know in the comments section below!