Dwight Howard is fresh off an interesting year in Los Angeles. The team got off to a historically disappointing start, looking like they were going to be watching the playoffs from home. Then, they started playing like the team they were supposed to be towards the end, making a herculean push for the seventh seed in the highly competitive Western Conference postseason bracket.
However, Howard wasn’t necessarily happy with the year he had in the purple and gold. He apparently wasn’t happy with Mike D’Antoni, a story which isn’t new for Howard as far as his relationships with coaches go. That means that there’s a very good chance he could head to a new city this offseason. So, are the Golden State Warriors the team for him?
First, let’s look at the season he just had. In terms of field goal percentage, he actually shot quite well, hitting 57.8 percent of his shots. He also averaged 2.4 blocks per game–another very good year in that department.
But statistically, that’s where the positives end. For the second straight year, he shot under 50 percent from the free throw line (Hack-a-Howard, anyone?). To add to that, he averaged 12.4 rebounds a game, which by itself doesn’t sound that bad. But it looks a lot worse when you take into account that the last time he averaged anything under 13.2 was in the 2006-07 season.
Now, let’s take a look at what the Warriors would likely have to give up to acquire him.
First off, they absolutely don’t have the cap space to straight up sign him. In fact, it’s looking like they could hit the luxury tax next year due to those weighty contracts of Andris Biedrins and Richard Jefferson. That means sign-and-trade.
The Lakers are going to be looking to add some youth to their roster, meaning that any kind of deal between them and the Warriors would have to involve giving up some package involving Klay Thompson/Harrison Barnes to free up the money and make space for Howard. Those are two very young players with a lot of promise that the Warriors have decided to really invest in, and both are big parts of the core squad that made them the top California team in this postseason.
Given the investment in the young players, and the sheer cost (though he’d have to discount a bit considering his year), it doesn’t seem likely that Golden State’s front office will be all too open to making this happen.
To compound onto all that information, they would have some competition for the acquisition. Some places it has been suggested he could go are Atlanta and Dallas, both of which have some money to spend this summer, unlike Golden State.
As per Hoopshype.com, Dallas has about $48.5 million on the books, and resident superstar Dirk Nowitzki has voiced willingness to take a bit of a pay cut to bring around some more talent. He would love to bring another banner to the rafters before he’s done in the league, and Howard, despite his flaws, might just get them there. He might be willing to head there in addition because he knows they can pay up, in addition to the fact that they have a recent title, and he would have a chance to play with a more established superstar in Nowitzki.
On the other hand, Atlanta has a measly $18.5 million on the books for 2013-14, making them basically a piggy bank for Howard if he looks seriously at them. They’ve been a solid team recently, securing a decent seeding in the Eastern Conference. To add to the appeal, it’s Howard’s hometown team.He’s from Atlanta. And he could fit well there, since they have Jeff Teague locked in. But that does raise the question of what to do about Al Horford, who they have under their budget 2016.
Additionally, the Lakers could make an attempt to keep him in Los Angeles long-term, since we all know they’re not afraid of the luxury tax and spending crazy amounts of money for players they want. Plus, they could offer him the largest deal of any team.
Lastly, let’s look at Dwight’s intangibles a bit: He takes the most heat for his attitude. Most of those issues started in 2009, when the Orlando Magic blew a lead in Game 5 of the playoffs and he publicly called out Jeff Van Gundy’s tactics and said he should have the ball in his hands more.
In the 2011-12 season, he demanded a trade to one of three teams (the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers or the formerly New Jersey Nets). He then reportedly asked for Van Gundy to be fired in 2012 after deciding to stick with the Magic.
After that season, he again requested a Nets trade, saying that if it didn’t happen, he would enter free agency. That past season, he also lead the league in technical fouls with 18, earning suspensions after his 16th and 18th.
Enter the Lakers era of his career.
During this past season, he again said he wasn’t getting the ball enough and that Kobe Bryant was shooting too much. Later in the season Bryant suggested that Howard should just play through pain when he re-aggravated his shoulder injury. Howard then picked up his game a bit, though he shot his lowest scoring average (17.1 points per game), his lowest mark since his sophomore year in the NBA.
What this all seems to say is that he shows a pattern of going against coaches he doesn’t like, and that he seems to lack the ability to co-exist with another superstar, wanting to be the focal point of any team he plays for.
Howard remains an excellent NBA center, even having earned All-NBA Third Team honors this year, and having the ability to play bigger than his listed 6’11″ height. However, given his history, the Warriors’ salary situation, the current team setup and the market competition they will have for him, it seems unlikely they would even be able to acquire him in the end, despite any interest in the team he might have.
And given his attitude historically, the fact that he seems to have regressed in production lately and his lack of ability to play together with other stars…do I think the Warriors even should make a run at him? No, I don’t.
*All statistics courtesy of ESPN, unless noted otherwise