Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and all the NBA Trade Rumours

Whilst this is first and for most a LeBron James/Miami Heat blog, we do like to talk everything NBA here at the Gospel, or at least everything interesting in the NBA (that’s why there was very little, if any lockout information).

Ever since David Stern muttered the word ‘tentative’, the internet, the papers and basically every NBA fan’s conversations have been saturated with trade rumours surrounding two of the NBA’s elite, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard and New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul.

Before I embark on this analysis, I want to make it clear to all you Lakers fans that there is absolutely no chance both end up in the purp and gold. The media are so pro Lakers, they will have you believing this is possible. I am not sure it is at all possible for you to acquire one, so do not for a second believe Chris Paul and Dwight Howard will join Kobe Bryant at Staples. It isn’t going to happen.

Ok, let’s go.

It’s fair to say that Chris Paul is one of the least happy people in the NBA right now, especially given he turned down the chance to join LeBron James’ representative company which would have seen him too become a free agent last season and I would say without a shadow of a doubt those two would be playing together, most likely in New York City for the Knicks. That is still his dream destination, albeit with lesser but still elite teammates and friends, but the situation is now out of his hands.

It is nearly a completely different situation for Dwight Howard.

Howard is head and shoulders above any other center in the league, and not just when he jumps. People attribute Andrew Bynum of the Lakers as being the second best center in the league, and whilst I disagree, it is very difficult to determine a no.2 because there is just so little talent at the position. It seems every 5-10 years the NBA gets a truly great, dominant center and it seems most of the time these players end up at the Lakers. There are exceptions, but certainly LA seems to claim these big men as their own.

Howard is more interested in the fame and the spotlight than any other player in the league. He is constantly running his mouth, posting videos of his immaturity and making unnecessary comments to ensure attention is on him. He acts like the first born child when mummy and daddy bring a new brother or sister home, constantly demanding attention through a series of childish actions, trying to draw eyes off the new baby. The new baby in this instance is LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and to a more personal level, Shaquille O’Neal, amongst others. He has no right to feel this way either, because he himself is the new one and acts more like a baby than any other.

The thing I find most disturbing about Dwight Howard is the criticism he gave to LeBron James for leaving Cleveland and Shaquille O’Neal for selling out to get to the Lakers, yet he is now doing the exact same thing. He craves attention and what better place to get it than the Los Angeles Lakers?

He has put Magic GM Otis Smith in a very uncomfortable situation. Smith has attempted to surround Howard with talent able of getting them that one step further than their Finals appearance in 2008. Whilst he clearly overpaid on players like Vince Carter, Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas, at least Smith has been trying to convince his star player to stay, which cannot be said for Cleveland’s Dan Gilbert.

The likely destinations for Howard are the Clippers, the Nets and the Lakers. Of these three, the Lakers offer the least attractive compensation. The big name three of Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom are the Lakers’ only trading chips, and it is certain they will need to send at least two of those to claim Howard. Bynum is young and talented but has the knees of an 80 year old and the attitude of an 8 year old. Pau Gasol is one of the most skilled big men in the game, but he is getting old and is spineless. Lamar Odom is a regular on the Kardashian’s plethora of TV shows, enough said. If I were Orlando I would reject the trade even if the Lakers offered me all three.

The Clippers and the Nets make the most sense. Everyone is jumping aboard the Clippers bandwagon because of the human highlight reel that is Blake Griffin and, like the Lakers, they too offer a chance to play in Hollywood. They can offer an array of young talent and draft picks, exactly what you want when rebuilding a team following the loss of a superstar. The Nets offer something more unique. Their upcoming move to Brooklyn gives Dwight Howard a chance to be the center piece of a brand new franchise in a brand new city penetrating a brand new and capable market. Brooklyn wants so desperately to dissociate itself from New York and bringing their rival Nets to town with Dwight Howard and Deron Williams would be the F U the people of Brooklyn have wanted to deliver to their more fancied neighbours for a long time.

I am not a fan of Dwight Howard. I do not like his attitude, I do not like his personality and I really don’t like how he handles himself off the court. But I would love to see him join Deron Williams in Brooklyn and begin a rivalry with those Knicks that would come to rival anything else we have in the league. The Nets have so much cap space they can bring in another max contract as well as Dwight Howard, meaning the big 2 of Williams and Howard could certainly be a big 2.5. He could go to the Lakers or Clippers and be the next Shaquille O’Neal, only with less rings, or he could do something special and help Deron Williams establish a new order on the East Coast.

Let’s go back to Chris Paul. He is in my opinion the best and most pure point guard in the NBA. There should be 31 teams knocking on New Orleans’ door asking what they want for him. He is a fighter, he is a winner, he has a great attitude and from all reports he is a genuinely nice human being. The perfect beacon for any franchise.

His circumstances, as I mentioned above, are much different and much more difficult than Howard’s. We all know Paul wants to play with Carmelo and Amare in New York. The only problem is that the Knicks traded basically everything they had to the Nuggets last season when acquiring Anthony. All that’s left is Landry Fields, Chauncey Billups and everyone’s favourite frenchman (mostly because everyone hates the French, he is just the least hated), Ronny Turiaf. That certainly is not enough to land Chris Paul, especially considering Billups has one year left on his $14 million deal and New Orleans traded away their point guard prodigy, Darren Collison, to the Pacers last year. Cap space does not interest them, clearly. Especially considering the league’s impending rules on salary cap minimums.

I will get back to the New York Knicks situation shortly.

The other teams that are supposedly the front runners for Paul include the Celtics, the Clippers, the Lakers, the Warriors and the Mavericks. Again, of these teams, the Clippers offer the most attractive trade package. The Celtics have reportedly offered Rajon Rondo, but that does not interest the Hornets because they believe he will be much less effective with the Hornets’ talent compared to that of the Celtics’. Completely understandable and I agree, despite how big of a Rondo fan I am. The Mavericks cannot offer much in terms of youth, mostly because their entire team returns to their respective retirement villages after each game, and I can’t see them having a real impact, despite what Mark Cuban will tell you.

The Lakers seem to throw their name into every hat, but they are unsure whether they would prefer Dwight Howard or Chris Paul. The biggest problem with the Lakers over the past few years is they do not have anyone to run their offense, to take ball handling pressure off Kobe and have not had anyone to guard the opposing team’s point guard. Chris Paul would be a dream for that team. They already have two very good big men, so if they were able to keep one of them in trading for Paul, you’d think the team would be better with a greater balance, rather than just stuffing the center position because they can. At the same time, Dwight Howard is certainly a bigger name, would arguably have a bigger effect but most importantly, help solve the deteriorating defense of the Lakers. So it’s a conundrum for the Lakers, should they even feel the need to make a trade.

The Warriors have, surprisingly to me, emerged as a real front runner for the league’s best point guard. They have a collection of nice young pieces (not to the extent of the Clippers but still viable trade options), draft picks and cap space. The most attractive chip they hold is certainly Stephen Curry, although reports suggest they are unwilling to include him unless Paul ensures them he will sign an extension. Their new coach, Marc Jackson, would be an ideal mentor for Paul, having played point guard for a contending team many years ago when he joined Reggie Miller in Indiana, and they, at least in the past, played an offensive system that Paul would surely thrive in. However, they are hardly a close to contending team, can offer nothing of the talent the Clippers could surround Paul with and despite being able to possibly link Paul with his former favourite teammate, Tyson Chandler, I can’t see Paul having any intention of moving to nor staying with Golden State.

That is the key to his situation. Whether Paul will sign an extension or not. It is the reason Denver were forced to trade Anthony to the Knicks for a worse deal than they could have sought anywhere else in the league, because of his refusal to sign an extension with anyone but New York. That is where Chris Paul can win. If Paul tells the Lakers, the Clippers, the Warriors, the Celtics, the Mavericks and the rest of the league he will only sign an extension with New York, the Hornets have two options. They can either trade him to New York for whatever little the Knicks can offer or they can hold onto him till the end of the season and lose him to the Knicks for nothing. It’s a no brainer, should it come to that.

The Knicks must seek a third or fourth team to help them make the deal more attractive. We all know where Paul wants to play and it’s likely he will hold the Hornets ransom to ensure he gets there. I cannot see him joining the Lakers because of the somewhat rivalry that emerged between him and the team during their clashes over his career. The Clippers are still the Clippers and Boston are on their way down. Even with a third or fourth team in a Paul to New York trade, it will still be very difficult for the Knicks. They will have to find someone interested in Billups’ expiring contract, they will have to send away pretty much every first round draft pick they have until 2020 and will lose Landry Fields, the man they deemed too good to trade for Carmelo Anthony.

I would love to see Chris Paul join Anthony and Stoudemire in the mecca of basketball and create a big 3 that rivals that of Miami’s. The inevitable playoff series between the two would be titanic.

I am unable to predict where Chris Paul or Dwight Howard will end up, nor will I attempt to. The variables and considerations of each potential deal are never-ending and will only be resolved by time. The NBA officially opens for business on December 9, when teams can sign, cut and trade players.

Could we see Chris Paul traded that day? Yes. Could we see Dwight Howard traded that day? I’d say that is more likely. Could we see both Chris Paul and Dwight Howard traded on December 9th? Potentially. But I do not think it is overly hasty of me to say that neither of the two will be playing for their current teams on opening day. I believe Howard wants to leave Orlando and we all know Paul has no future in New Orleans.

The best thing for all concerned and involved is to rip off the bandaid fast and let the wound heal.

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