You know the script of the story so far: Superman decides he can’t win a ring and seeks help from the hailed greatness of the Black Mamba to form a championship-worthy team. Once in the fantasy-land of Hollywood, this alliance of Superman and Black Mamba seeks to dethrone King James. At the time of the acquisition, 90 percent of anybody with an opinion picked a 2013 Finals matchup of the Miami Heat vs. Los Angeles Lakers. (And who wouldn’t like to see the Black Mamba match up against King James in an entertaining battle for the ages?)
That’s where the fantasy ends and reality begins. The season begins and coach Mike is fired for another coach Mike, injuries plague the team, and in the season's grand finale…Kobe Bryant fades away with a terrible injury. But not to disappoint the fans, an encore of the Dwight Howard drama is nowhere near from over.
ESPN's Chris Broussard has been monitoring the Dwight Howard situation very closely over the past couple weeks and has reiterated only exactly what everybody already knew: Mike D’Antoni is the major roadblock to his re-signing; the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks are Howard's primary suitors. (Not sure why there’s the obsession with Texas but who knows, maybe he’s hoping some of the San Antonio mojo will rub off on him if he’s in the same state…)
Sources: Dwight Howard unlikely to re-sign with the Lakers. Dallas and Houston the favorites. Main issue w/Lakers is Mike D'Antoni's system
— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) June 27, 2013
A closer look shows that neither spot is really ideal for the unrestricted free agent who wants to be the main guy in a big market. The Rockets are hovering around the salary cap and do not have the most ideal supporting cast. Kevin McHale is all about the perimeter shooting (Houston tied for first in 3PT field goal attempts last season) which does not favor a low-post presence like Howard. The talent is there, but the style could easily be more of what Dwight experienced in 2013 with the Lakers.
The Dallas Mavericks have the ability to build around Howard because well…Dallas is nearly bare bones themselves. Mark Cuban currently has seven players currently on the payroll for next season: an aging Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, and Vince Carter lead the way. Four young players who combined to average 6.6 points per game in 2013 pull up the rear. Is that really an attractive option for a guy who (supposedly) wants to win a championship?
If the unrestricted free agent Howard wants to have a shot at a chip (in the near future), play in a big city, and be the big fish, than the Boston Celtics are the perfect team for him to climb on board with. Fresh off of cleaning house by dumping Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Doc Rivers, the Celtics appear to be in the midst of the dreaded rebuilding process...but Dwight Howard could make that process over in a matter of weeks.
|Imagine the reception that this press conference would get...|
The potential starting lineup would be as good as almost any other Eastern conference team on paper: Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Jeff Green/Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, and Dwight Howard.
That may not be quite on the level of what the Brooklyn Nets or Miami Heat currently are running with, but it’s significantly better than what the Mavericks would have to put together—not to mention they’re in the West. As for the Rockets, they have the talent but I just don’t see the style meshing with what Howard wants. Aside from Boston's current player personnel, those three first round draft picks that they have to work with give them security and hope for the future.
Two major hindrances in a Howard to the Boston Celtics scenario would be the coaching situation (which is, as of now, up in the air) and the salaries that the Celtics took on when they acquired Wallace, Humphries & Co. in the blockbuster trade with the Nets. Coaching could be a problem for Howard because he may very well want the confirmation that the system will at least in part be run through him. At this moment, there is no guarantee there for Howard.
If it came down to money, Celtics GM Danny Ainge would do anything in his power to get one of the premiere big men in the league. Amnestying any of the players from the Nets would probably be option No. 1, and trading big salaries for just about anything would be option No. 2. Stealing Dwight Howard from the Lakers is an opportunity too good for Ainge to pass up.
|Dwight Howard has no idea what Kobe is|
really thinking about in this picture...
A Rajon Rondo-Dwight Howard duo is in the realm of Tony Parker-Tim Duncan in the early 00s: a capable, young point guard with a championship background paired up with a defensive stopper inside who can score from the post. The Big Fundamental clearly had (and has) a more refined post game than Howard—let’s be very clear there. But when you have a wizard like Rondo running the point, it’s very easy to see him putting Howard in a position to score when he gets the ball. Dwight knows that he would be a primary option and get more than enough touches in Boston. And in terms of acquiring future free agents (LeBron in 2014?) it would an appealing destination. Ainge would have the luxury to build around two guys who don't require the shot volume of superstar guards like Russell Westbrook or Kobe Bryant.
Boston would be the best fit for both Howard and the future of the Celtics franchise.
The final scene to this dramatic comedy would be hilariously perfect if Howard and his indecisiveness decided to leave the Lakers for the Celtics—especially considering all sources point toward Houston and Dallas. If he decided to become a Celtic, it would be in the same ballpark of Babe Ruth leaving the Red Sox for the Yankees or Ray Allen leaving the Celtics for the Heat. (Somehow Boston sports are always mixed up in some controversial blockbuster trades involving big names.)
No great player has left the Lakers of their own volition. Shaquille O’Neal was forced out; Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar all retired as Lakers. Kobe Bryant doesn’t look to be moving away anytime soon. Dwight Howard would mark the first time that one of the best players in the league opted to leave the lights of Los Angeles and the Staples Center for greener pastures. Maybe it would begin the Curse of Superman...
Howard landing in Boston would be the perfect ending to the ESPN-sponsored Hollywood special, The Dwight Howard Saga.