Friday, March 2, 2012

Where Dwight SHOULD Go

Now that the All Star break has left Orlando, it's time to figure out when and where Dwight Howard will leave, too. We've pretty much known where he wants to go as a free agent: basically, wherever Deron Williams lands, whether it be in his current New Jersey/Brooklyn location or native Dallas. I wrote in the beginning of the season about how Dallas basically conceded its chance at defending its title by taking cost efficient routes to fill its rotation in order to have the flexibility to go after these two premium free agents. Even if they deal Shawn Marion and amnesty Brendan Haywood's contract, whether or not the Mavs would be able to sign BOTH remains to be seen.

As for the Nets, there's not a single team that has the most boom or bust potential in free agency, assuming there's no trade based around Brook Lopez, MarShon Brooks, and draft picks before then. They're a longshot to make the playoffs, which won't make Williams happy, but they'll have a decent chance at winning the lottery. Thus, there's the potential of teaming Dwight, Deron, and a top pick OR winding up with nothing if Williams leaves for Dallas or somewhere else.
Next year, will Dwight be saying, "Good play bro! High five?"
Now, these certainly aren't the only options, especially now that it's March 1st, meaning that the players who signed free agent deals this past offseason are now eligible to be traded, and the trade deadline is exactly two weeks away. Otis Smith, the Magic GM, isn't looking to rebuild with an aging owner and his job on the line, but that would be what's best for the franchise instead of losing Howard for nothing. So let's look at where Dwight should go, regardless of his "preferred list" or if it's via trade or free agency. (Note: As with my Pau Gasol ideas, I try to include Hedo Turkoglu and Chris Duhon, serviceable players, in most deals for their toxic contracts as a sort of "trade tax" for acquiring the franchise center.)

1. Chicago Bulls
It's long been said that Chicago should be Howard's #1 destination of choice, perhaps none more eloquently so than by Bill Simmons. It's a huge market with a storied history and is already a great team. Pairing the game's most dominant center with arguably the best point guard in Derrick Rose would be a match made in heaven, right? Well, maybe not since Dwight's care-free style might not mix well with his Adidas partner (I mean, did you see Rose's reactions during the All Star introductions?), but it should definitely be higher on the list. A trade would be necessary, probably something looking like this with a couple draft picks thrown in--namely the valuable future Charlotte pick from the old Tyrus Thomas deal...or perhaps prized prospect Nikola Mirotic, who's trapped in Europe?

EDIT: My ideal #2 got lost in all my ideas. I had considered Atlanta as a great destination for so long that I forgot to actually write it, but I posted the gist of it in the comments section. My apologies.

2. Philadelphia 76ers
Philly doesn't seem to be anywhere near Dwight's list, but it absolutely should be. He could be the franchise's second coming of Moses Malone, and he's be free to easily sign with them if they amnesty the last year of Elton Brand's monster contract. Of course, the best chance would probably to strike a deal at the deadline and try to convince him to stay. This is a deep team with a lot of nice pieces but no true superstar, and after a hot start, they've struggled with the injury to financially motivated young center Spencer Hawes. They could take on the contract of Hedo (who would work well with Andre Iguodala) in exchange for the last year of the aforementioned Brand deal (for salary matching purposes), future draft picks, last year's #2 pick Evan Turner (who's shown much more promise this year but won't prosper alongside Iggy), and probably, gulp, Jrue Holiday (whom I'm still bullish on but also disappointed he hasn't progressed as much as I'd hoped and probably needs a new system). Lou Williams, Iguodola, Turkoglu, Thaddeus Young, and Howard could be an enticing starting five.

3. Golden State Warriors
Just kidding. One can dream.

3. Boston Celtics
Like I said when talking about the Chris Paul scenarios, I've always envisioned Dwight heading to Boston to pair with Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce (and possibly Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett at reduced rates). However, not only has Howard not shown the slightest of interest in the storied franchise, all is not well in Beantown with Rondo rumors running rampant because of supposed chemistry issues with his veteran teammates finally becoming too much. It just makes too much sense to ignore, though, especially since the C's stars all rate very well in John Hollinger's "Dwight Rater". (Sidenote: you gotta love the Glen Davis comment in typical Hollinger humor). This would pretty much be a straight free agent signing, although the huge expiring contract of KG could make for some creative trades.
Despite what Doc says, Rondo might be traded "over there."
4. Los Angeles Lakers
You wouldn't think Dwight wants to follow in Shaq's shoes, but the LA market and Lakers' winning tradition is certainly appealing. There's no way he could sign as a free agent, so it would have to be a trade. I remain insistent that with their little leverage, the Lakers would have to give up both Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum or find a third team to help provide more assets.

5. Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers have a lot of nice talent and cap flexibility, Dwight would form a dominant front line with LaMarcus Aldridge, and, um, Portland is supposedly a beautiful city. Okay, definitely categorize this one as "unlikely," but it's nice to think about. I really just wanted to talk about Portland as a possibility for moves since they've been struggling after a hot start, mostly due to an inability to close out games, as indicated by their strong point differential. Basically, I want this to happen. Portland fans have long been wanting to deal their free-agent-to-be point guard, Raymond Felton, for the free-agent-to-be Steve Nash with the hope of convincing him to stay in the Pacific Northwest after this season. Nicolas Batum is their biggest trade chip since everyone loves his young potential, and he's been shooting the lights out this year. With restricted free agency looming, the Blazers will likely only be able to keep one of him or fellow forward Gerald Wallace, so packaging Batum in a trade with Felton and the large expiring contract of Marcus Camby (still good but an injury risk) would be prudent.

The Suns waited too long to deal Nash, so shedding the horrible Josh Childress contract while nabbing Batum and possibly a draft pick would be a major coup for the rebuilding process. It would cost Marcin Gortat, but he could become a free agent after next season anyway. I would love to include Grant Hill and his one year deal for a playoff run as well, but it'd be tough to make the salaries match unless Childress or Gortat weren't included. Boy, did I diverge quite a bit from Dwight. This would be what the blockbuster deal would probably look like to land him in the Northwest. That is quite underwhelming, but it would allow the Magic to semi-compete in the playoffs still. Batum for Jason Richardson could also be thrown into that deal as well to bolster the Magic's returns if they really want to tear apart the whole team.

Which is what they should do, of course. Better luck with your next job, Otis.

1 comment:

  1. Also, I'm an idiot who forgot one of the first ones I thought of: going home to Atlanta. That's where he's from and was AAU teammates with Josh Smith. The rumor floated about is Joe Johnson and Al Horford for Howard and Turkoglu, but Orlando shouldn't want any part of Joe's massive contract. Horford is definitely a great trade piece, but he's hurt right now.

    Regardless, he's locked up for the future and could be paired with first round picks, the young Jeff Teague, Kirk Hinrich's expiring contract, and the relatively cheap Zaza Pachulia.

    This would form a core around Dwight of Joe Johnson, Turkoglu, and Josh Smith (and Marvin Williams off the bench), with a bunch of mid-level caliber point guards available in free agency this year *cough*RayFelton*cough* that could form a contender. Of course, getting the ownership in Atlanta to open up the wallet is another story.