Because he is an Atlanta native with ties to the community, Dwight Howard is seemingly always thrown around in wild trade rumors involving the Atlanta Hawks. Most of the time, these whispers are accompanied by little to no actual intelligence, but in the case of a report that surfaced this week, there could be some fire to the smoke.
Chris Broussard of ESPN took to the airwaves of SportsCenter, and he posited that Howard would like to return home if traded. Here is the exact quote from Broussard, with a hat-tip to Dan Feldman of NBC Sports:
Dwight Howard, the Rockets told him last week he could be traded before the deadline. Dwight, if he’s moved, would like to go to Atlanta, maybe Miami.
While that certainly isn't actionable information, it will not slow down the rumor mill with regard to Howard and, from a Hawks perspective, Al Horford. For all intents and purposes, Horford is a better player than Howard at this point in their respective careers, and within the confines of Mike Budenholzer's offensive system, Horford is a (much) better fit. However, outsiders often point to Atlanta's issues with defensive rebounding, and Howard would be an upgrade in that area and with regard to rim protection.
In the short term, it would be a shock (at least to me) if a deal was formed that included a Horford-Howard swap. However, both players are set to hit the open market of free agency following the 2015-2016 season, making Dwight Howard a name that will be endlessly mentioned with a tie to Atlanta if Horford chooses to sign elsewhere.
The situation is, at best, muddy right now, but with a national voice lending credence to Howard's interest in a homecoming, the speculation could increase in the coming days. Stay tuned.