This might be a case of me hoping to see my favorite player in the league play for my favorite team in the league. Here is the setup. Howard wants out of Orlando. Reports say he wants to go to the Lakers. First of all, everyone in the NBA needs to make sure that doesn't happen. There is no way the Lakers should be able to afford the contracts of Kobe, Bynum, Gasol, Howard, and all of the other players on their roster. So, what can the league do to prevent this from happening? Figure out how to get Dwight Howard back home to Atlanta!
First, the money issue. I know Dwight Howard would probably want as much money as possible. He would possibly be willing to sacrifice a little bit of cash to go to the team he wants, but if he can go to a good option AND earn the maximum contract possible, wouldn't that be the best option? Now, obviously the Hawks can't afford two players with max contracts as well as the impending contracts on Jamal Crawford and Kirk Hinrich (after next season). So, what do we do? I say make a sign and trade with Orlando.
Now, obviously no teams wants to make a trade with a division rival, but no teams wants to get left in the cold when their star player wants to leave (just ask anyone in Cleveland). So, what could the deal look like? My thoughts: the Hawks send Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, and Jason Collins to Orlando. Orlando gets the starting SG they have been missing since Vince Carter was shipped out and will need as Jason Richardson leaves, they get the athletic freak to pick up some of the electrifying defense (and shot-blocking ability) that will be lost, and they get a big man who apparently is capable of slowing down Dwight Howard a bit. I would also be in favor of throwing in our first round pick the next year (I would give them the next year's as well if it means we get Dwight). In return, the Magic send us Dwight Howard and a contract they don't want (Gilbert's is out of the question. Maybe a J.J. Redick or Hedo Turkoglu if they are unhappy with their performances this year). Turkoglu's contract would be similar to Josh Smith's, making the salaries work out. Basic summary of the deal: Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Jason Collins, and two first round picks for Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu. Would they go for it? Eh. Probably not. Maybe Rick Sund could work some magic (no pun intended) and make a deal work.
Think of the possibilities. Our starting five looks like this: Jeff Teague, Kirk Hinrich, Marvin Williams, Al Horford, Dwight Howard. Ideally, we are able to resign Jamal Crawford to continue to dominate as one of the best sixth men in the league. I prefer him coming off the bench and Teague starting as it would give him some confidence and allow Hinrich to guard the two. We get the best big man in the league to play center and it allows Al Horford to play his natural position, power forward.
The money situation: Without Joe Johnson and Josh Smith, we will have just under 34 million under contract. Dwight and JJ would have similar contracts, putting us up to about 55 mil. Hedo's contract puts us up to 65 mil. If we are able to resign Jamal, we are up to about 75 mil. Fill up the rest of the roster with UDFA, guys making veteran's minimum, etc, puts us over 80 mil, but not by much. Can management afford this? I say absolutely. We are bringing in a legitimate MVP candidate and he is coming home. We would start selling out games outside of the Lakers and Heat. Attendance as a whole should go up.
So, is this an impossible dream or is there a shimmer of hope? I hope it's the second one.