With the recent rumors that the Los Angeles Clippers are trying to acquire Dwight Howard, we should take a look at what this possible pairing means for another team in the Pacific Division, the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors and Clippers face each other four times every year, so any move either team makes, means the other will have to deal with the consequences.
The first consequence of the Clippers acquiring Howard means that the West finally has a “super-team,” much like how the Miami Heat and their Big Three came together, this would likely put Chris Paul, Dwight Howard and either DeAndre Jordan or Blake Griffin together, depending on the deal the Clippers can strike with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Which brings us to the next important point: will the Clippers have to give up Griffin to get Howard? It would give the Lakers a new, exciting centerpiece to build around and would make the deal much easier to swallow for the Buss family. But will Donald Sterling (the Clippers’ owner) be willing to give up the player that brought his team to relevance for the first time in a long time?
Apparently, Sterling in enamored with Griffin, and any kind of deal for him would have to blow him away, but right now, the future of this team more depends on keep Paul happy, as he is the best point guard in the game. He has as much veto power as any executive in the league at this moment.
Much like the formation of the Boston Celtics “super-team” in 2007, this Howard deal is contingent upon Paul first signing his max extension to stay with the Clippers, which now seems likely with the Doc Rivers deal completed.
This type of super-team makes the West all the more difficult to win because of the elite pairing of point guard and center. Maybe in the history of the game there hasn’t been a more potent combination on both ends of the court. Even if Howard stays the exact same player he is and develops no more post moves, Paul is an expert at throwing lobs, and that caters right to Howard’s game. Howard could average 20 points per game and 10 boards per game with nothing but dunks.
One major factor into how this fits with the Warriors plans is Andrew Bogut‘s health. Or more simply, will he be healthy for the four meetings. The four games per year aren’t a big deal, but come playoff time, the road to the Finals absolutely will go through the Clippers, and if Bogut can’t stay on the floor to guard the rim and defend the post, the Warriors have no shot next year.
One long-term ramification of this deal is the Lakers’ haul–Griffin. With a new superstar to build around, do the Lakers acquire the right players and coaches to get the maximum production from his insanely high ceiling? This could lead to more problems for the Warriors, as almost no player can match Griffin’s athleticism. It keeps the Lakers relevant in the short term and gives them a star to build their franchise around for the future. This is the nature of the Lakers, never fade to irrelevance.
Another issue for the Warriors is that Festus Ezeli will be out for six-plus months. Sure, he was extremely raw last year, but the potential was easy to see. His hands still aren’t soft enough to catch those pocket passes on the pick-and-roll, but his impact was immediately felt on the defensive end.
Any deal that makes the Clippers stronger is dangerous for the Warriors, as there is no clear cut favorite in the West right now. A Los Angeles super-team would vastly change that.