Cohen: Some Howard Trade Proposals to Ponder

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

By Josh Cohen July 4, 2012 ORLANDO -- It’s the unavoidable water cooler chat every day. Will Dwight Howard get traded and if so, where may he end up and what could the Orlando Magic get back in return? There seems to be a million different possibilities to consider. For one, it’s still no guarantee the Magic will trade Howard. The goal all along is to have D12 in a Magic uniform for as long as he elects to be here. Howard is undeniably the most prolific center in the game today and already one of the best of all time. However, if Howard chooses to remain indecisive about his future and continues on with his trade request, it’s certainly feasible that he will be dealt. We have all been subject to the trade rumors involving the Brooklyn Nets, especially, but even other teams such as the Atlanta Hawks, L.A. Lakers, Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets have been discussed as potential trade partners. I decided to assess some prospective trade ideas that I think could be favorable for all the teams involved. Most of these concepts, in fact, have really not been discussed much in the media. But, upon my deepest analysis, these are some proposals that I judge as fair-minded, realistic and financially achievable under the NBA’s trade guidelines. NEW YORK GETS: Dwight Howard ORLANDO GETS: Jeremy Lin (sign-and-trade) and Tyson Chandler OR NEW YORK GETS: Dwight Howard and additional player/s to match salary ORLANDO GETS: Jeremy Lin (sign-and-trade), Tyson Chandler, Luis Scola and Jeremy Lamb HOUSTON GETS: Amar’e Stoudemire First off, New York’s chase for Steve Nash must suggest that Jeremy Lin, who is a restricted free agent and has early Bird rights, could ultimately be available via trade. The Knicks can match any offer for Lin, including Houston’s four-year, $30 million submission that was reported on Wednesday, in an effort to keep last season’s global icon. However, if a proposed sign-and-trade were completed between the Knicks and Suns for Nash, Lin would certainly be expendable for NY to improve in other areas. It just doesn’t seem rational for the Knicks to flaunt two similar floor generals – one at the beginning of his career and the other at the tail end – if they can proffer deals to obtain first-class value in return for Lin. Down the east coast, we all are aware of Dwight Howard’s ambiguous direction. Howard requested a trade to Brooklyn, but after this week’s momentous transactions, including the re-signing of Deron Williams and Gerald Wallace and the acquisition of Joe Johnson, the Nets have essentially exceeded the salary cap and will not be able to ink Howard next summer when he becomes a free agent. Brooklyn, in effect, would have to find a way to trade for Howard and while it does have a few budding talents including Brook Lopez and MarShon Brooks, it may simply be not enough to obtain one of the best centers of all time. If the six-time NBA All-Star craves so desperately to further his career in Brooklyn, how could Manhattan as an alternative not satisfy his long term desires? The Knicks have some attractive pieces to negotiate a potential deal with the Magic, especially if Lin is obtainable. Tyson Chandler is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and if both NY and Orlando want to get really creative, Amar’e Stoudemire could get involved in any prospective deal as well. From New York’s perspective, a “Big Three” including Howard, Nash and Carmelo Anthony would certainly be capable of challenging the Heat in the Eastern Conference. From Orlando’s standpoint, on the other hand, it would maintain a governing inside presence and generate marketing power with Lin as the team’s point guard of the future. If the Magic were unwilling to accept Stoudemire’s remaining $60 million left on his massive contract, a third team with aspirations of acquiring an elite power forward may want to get involved. The Rockets, who last year were on the verge of attaining Pau Gasol in that vetoed Chris Paul to the Lakers proposal, may have a strong interest in Stoudemire in hopes he can overcome some recent injury problems. Houston has already floated around Luis Scola on the trading block and it has some intriguing prospects from last month’s NBA Draft, including Jeremy Lamb. It’s very surprising that the Knicks have not been mentioned as a possible landing spot for Howard considering they do have some attractive assets and would allow D12 to play in the city he at this time wants to transfer to. CHICAGO GETS: Dwight Howard and additional player/s to match salary ORLANDO GETS: Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and Taj Gibson It’s surprising the Bulls, who were rumored at the trade deadline last season to perhaps be one of few teams willing to acquire Howard without assurance he would sign a long term extension, to not be mentioned recently as a possible trade partner. It was very apparent after Derrick Rose’s injury in the playoffs that Chicago needs a second “star” if it wants to be serious about competing with Miami. While it remains somewhat vague whether Rose will be healthy next season after having surgery to repair a torn ACL, if he and Howard teamed up, it would be a perfect balance of power and speed to help the Bulls challenge for a title. For the Magic, a proposed deal that would deliver fan favorite Joakim Noah, All-Star Luol Deng and a blossoming Taj Gibson to Orlando would create a defensive-oriented culture. The Bulls were the premier defensive team in the NBA last season, largely because of those three. They are committed on every possession and make it extremely difficult for opponents to create shot opportunities. On the other hand, the problem with this proposed package is that the Magic would not receive a distinguished “star” back for Howard. It’s undeniable that to compete for championships, you must feature at least one top-notch talent. And while Noah, Deng and Gibson are all very good players, we know what their ceiling is and there is no real potential for any of them to develop into championship leaders. OKLAHOMA CITY GETS: Dwight Howard ORLANDO GETS: James Harden, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins and Perry Jones You have to wonder if Rob Hennigan’s connection to the Thunder would make this proposed deal a serious option. While OKC may not be comfortable acquiring Howard as a rental, it would have to evaluate its potential with a trio of he, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. In fact, those three All-Stars together even for one season could legitimately be the most balanced and intimidating trio in NBA history. What’s most attractive about this concept for the Magic is that though he didn’t necessarily play well in the NBA Finals, James Harden definitely has the potential to blossom into one of the best players in the NBA. In contrast to the aforementioned proposal with the Bulls where you definitely know what you are getting, Harden is far more of a mystery. Largely because he plays in the shadows of Durant and Westbrook, sometimes it’s difficult to detect what the reigning Sixth Man of the Year can develop into. Some believe, as a matter of fact, Harden would be a perennial All-Star and one of the top 15-20 players in the league if he were the primary option on a team. Meanwhile, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins are defensive driven and Perry Jones, who was selected 28th overall in the NBA Draft, was projected to be a lottery pick until reports came out that he was dealing with some knee issues. L.A. LAKERS GET: Dwight Howard ORLANDO GETS: Andrew Bynum and Steve Blake There seems to be complications with the forever-discussed Howard-for-Bynum swap. D12 has reportedly stated he would not sign a long term deal with the Lakers and Bynum, who is also entering the final year of his contract, could theoretically do exactly the same and not sign an extension before his free agency hits. It seems very clear that the Magic would desire a long-term solution regardless of whether Howard is traded or not. Getting Bynum for one season would negate that objective if he chose to leave next summer when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Logic would insinuate that the only way this proposed idea gets done is if Howard decides he would sign long term in L.A. and Bynum elects to do the same in Orlando. The other hesitation, perhaps, from the Magic’s standpoint is that they may not be completely comfortable exchanging the best center in the NBA for the second best center in the league. Any time a trade is made, the hope at minimum is that both franchises feel they received equitable value in the deal. Since the Lakers seem reluctant to trade both Bynum and L.A.'s other major asset, Pau Gasol, in the same deal the Magic would probably have to find a third team to faciliate a package in which they would land more than just Bynum and any complimentary role player. Perhaps Houston, which always appears hungry to secure a formidable star, would get involved if Gasol was sent its direction. GOLDEN STATE GETS: Dwight Howard ORLANDO GETS: Harrison Barnes, Klay Thompson, Andrew Bogut and future draft picks This concept all depends on how you assess Harrison Barnes. If, on one hand, you are on the side that Barnes will evolve into the elite talent that so many projected when he first started at North Carolina, then you may be in favor of a deal like this for the Magic. If, on the other hand, you are in the section that doesn’t believe Barnes’ capability will translate in the NBA, then this proposed deal would not seem very attractive. The Warriors have previously avowed their keenness to acquire Howard with no assurance he would stay long term. When you examine Golden State’s roster, Stephen Curry is its best asset. But you have to figure the Warriors would not trade Curry if Howard won’t commit to them. As a result, my best assumption is that everyone except Curry is available. What makes this idea at least somewhat interesting is that if Orlando obtained future unprotected, and let me emphasize unprotected, draft picks, it’s possible those selections will eventually be high lottery. If the Magic got back unprotected draft picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018, for instance, and Howard left Oakland after next season, you can presuppose that the Warriors would be a pitiable team in all those years. Remember, when you hear that a team is getting back future unprotected draft picks in any trade, those picks are only valuable if the team that offered them will be bad in the next few years.Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic. All opinions expressed by Josh Cohen are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Magic or their Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors. [poll:48822]

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