Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard together? Doesn't seem likely, but Howard has set the stage to leave Orlando. The primary questions now is will the Magic play hardball and will Chicago be on his list of destinations?
SR: Do you think that the drive to represent, on an iconic level, will be a factor in your free agency? Do you see yourself in a much larger market?
DH: There's more you can do in a bigger place. I'm stuck in a tough position because I feel like right now, where I'm at, I've done so much. And I just don't know what else I can do. I can't live for everybody else. I don't know what decision I'm gonna make as of right now. It's been crazy. Everybody wants me to come here, come play here, come to our team, do this. It's a great feeling, though, to be wanted.
SR: You're gone. I can feel it.
DH: The toughest part for me is the city — the people. They've got burgers named after me in Orlando, they've got a Web site saying, "Please stay." I love the people in the city. I've literally sat on the bench with a towel on my head crying, because I feel the passion in the stands. I just think about what's going to be best for what I want to accomplish in my life. And I don't want that door to close on me, wherever that door is. I don't want it to close.
It's hard to imagine Dwight being any more clear of his intentions without outright saying "Sorry Orlando, but I'm out of here.". The only thing that keeps Dwight in the magic city is a championship this season, and the Magic are awfully far away from that if a season is even played.
The other factor, of course, is whether or not the Magic play hard ball with Dwight in an effort to keep him in the city. It's a tricky line, because keeping a superstar when he's not emotionally invested anymore hasn't worked out that well, but trading him doesn't work out well either.
Dwight Howard has a long wish list for where he ends up if you piece together the rumors over the last season. He wants to win a championship as the man in a warm weather, major market city that has the means to acquire him.
Which, as far as I can tell, means he wants to play for the Lakers. The Lakers could also offer up Andrew Bynum and change in a trade for Howard which is probably about as exciting as Orlando gets, plus they get to send him out West which is nice. It's going to be tough for Chicago to trump that offer especially since Bynum is a young piece that could be part of a core.
The Bulls would likely offer up Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, and whatever young pieces the Magic might want (Gibson, Asik, Mirotic, Butler, future picks, etc.. ) to get back Howard + a bad contract. Can they top LA's offer? Probably not by enough if Orlando views it as an advantage to not build another superteam in the East that it will have to contend with.
Their best hope is that Howard realizes that the Lakers are on their last legs, and that Kobe's skills are in decline. A championship window with the Lakers only lasts a couple seasons, and then they'll be in full rebuild mode.
However, the Lakers have rebuilt more often and more successfully than any other franchise and will sell Howard on the fact that they'll figure out a way to keep a great team around him and have a history to back it up.
The Bulls best hope, and only, hope is that Dwight more or less demands Chicago and is willing to play hard ball to get here. Chicago makes perfect sense as a destination for him, and I Adidas would probably feel it's a dream come true to get Rose and Howard on the same team especially if it leads to titles [likely].
As such, Chicago has to have some pull, but it doesn't have the nice weather, and while he's certainly as valuable a player as Rose, it's hard to envision people viewing the Bulls as Howard's team rather than Rose's team. [of course, same is true of the Lakers and Kobe]
It would have been interesting had the Bulls not signed Carlos Boozer and held off on extending Joakim Noah, they'd be sitting around max cap space this summer to pursue Howard and would have been the only team in the NBA that would be worth joining that he could have landed on.
Of course if they saved their cap room they likely would have won 45 games, Rose wouldn't have won the MVP, and the situation wouldn't look nearly as enticing as it does now either. They wouldn't be viewed as a true contender.
For the next eight and a half months, Bulls fans will simply cross their fingers.