Dwight Howard sets the stage to leave Orlando

Dwight Howard sets the stage to leave Orlando

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?

From Esquire magazine:

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.

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  • I don't see any way Howard doesn't end up with the Lakers. They've got the piece to trade in Bynum, and Howard will want to be there. In addition, Orlando will want to trade him out of the eastern conference.

  • In reply to RichG:

    The nuggets traded melo for essentially wilson chandler, gallo, and some center that I've never heard of. I think felton was shipped off for andre miller.

    I suppose the real question is how much money will howard loose by leaving the magic under the new collective bargaining agreement, and how much of that money could be made up by entering a larger market. If the monetary amount is negligible, howard is in a strong bargaining position to dictate where he wants to play.

    Also, Don't count the nets out.

  • In reply to pinkizdead:

    Acutally, if there's no NBA season in 2011-12, Howard will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2012, and Orlando won't get any compensation for him. Even if the players and owners come to an agreement, the new CBA could do away with sign-and-trades, which also means no compensation for Orlando.

  • In reply to RichG:

    Or it could implement a franchise tag.

    Or it could make it so there is no desirable destination in the NBA he can sign with because no one is under the cap enough to afford him in a marquee destination.

    The new CBA will change Dwight Howard's options tremendously, but it's somewhat unknown as to how it will change them.

  • pathetic that another huge superstar seeks the help of an MVP to compete for a championship. sure, i understand their desire to win and stacking teams is the surest way under a faulty system. Legends aren't born from cheaters though. The most impressive thing to do would be to stay with his own team and dominate, going against all odds. Look at Dallas. Here was a bunch of old, on the verge of retirement, role-players, some who have never really even been stars, going up against the big 3 from Miami. We all knew the result, but we were wrong. That's legendary.

  • If Noah turns out to be the flash in the pan he is emerging as, then the Bulls have nothing besides Derrick. Joakim's FG% which is a huge hallmark of a quality player has fallen through the floor. Boozer has been horribly dissapointing in second half field goal percentage, ppg, and playoff perfromance. His defensive efforts and abilities are poor. Thibodeau in all honesty is a better defensive specialist version of Skiles with little more maturity in the head coaching role. It's called rising to your own level of incompetence(past your own level of competence). He's the perfect defensive assoc. head coach/asst. He should remain so. And Howard is a punk just like Paul, LeBron, Carmelo, Wade etc. etc although Wade has often been clutch, but other then shot blocking does not invest a lot in one on one defense. I see the Bulls and Rose as the what could have been story for the next few years unless they hit the lottery/score another star/superstar in the draft. If I'm wrong about Noah then they still could be contenders. Otherwise you trade him hopefully for a high draft pick or young player who turns into a star.

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    The main thing I think would actually most go against the Lakers would be the fact that Shaq went there. I remember a while ago Howard actually got pretty pissed when someone said he was always imitating Shaq and said that he would make his own path.

  • Howard won't be playing for the Bulls no matter how much we Bulls fans want that dream to come true. He wants to be in a warm weather city and the Lakers have the best package to offer and I agree, the history of putting together championship teams for their star players. I agree with RW that the Bulls will eventually have to trade Noah to get another star player on the team, whether it be by a player already in the league or through the draft with a very high draft pick. A trade of some sort is the only way to improve the Bulls offensive problems whenever the season starts... Sorry Jokim but you might have to go.

  • Sorry, I don't understand the warm weather city thing at all for a professional basketball player like Howard. What he is going to do in LA? Lie on the beach during non-game days? He doesn't need a tan:-)
    I understand the deal with opportunities with Hollywood in LA and maybe advertising in NY. It is warm in Chicago during the non-playing days of the NBA anyhow. He probably has more time in Chicago to focus on his non-basketball stuff because of the proximity to travel across most basketball cities compared to LA or NY. That's why you have so many "consulting" companies based out of Chicago.
    Plus, he has all that stuff Rose provides in basketball and business sense.
    LA lucked out(or made a right pick) with Kobe when Shaq came. How is that guaranteed again? Howard obviously needs a prime top 10 player in the guard position to take him where he wants to go. Kobe is not that and there is less than 10% chance of that happening in the next 5 years with LA. NJ Nets and Chicago are probably the two teams which can provide him that need. NY probably has a better shot than LA. I would rate Chi/NJ, LA Clippers, NY, LA Lakers as the bets in basketball sense and business sense combined.

  • After watching our over paid ineffective front court against the Heat, you have to make a run at Howard. I can understand not wanting to trade Noah for no-defense Carmelo but for Howard, throw the kitchen sink in to get him. I think Howard would be foolish to pick NJ over the well coached Bulls, Deron Williams has already peaked, Rose is still learning and adding weapons to his arsenal. I hope these big time free agents aren't scared off by Reinsdorf and his cheap ways....why else is Chicago always having a hard time landing top 10 free agents.

  • Two insane predictions.

    1. Howard to LA Clippers, like schaumburgfan suggested. If it has to be a trade, Clippers give up DeAndre Jordan (to replace Howard, good young piece), Aminu (lots of potential), and Jamario Moon (to make the dollars work). Howard would love to be in LA while the Clips are climbing and the Lakers are declining, and the trio of Howard, Griffin, and Gordon would dominate the West for the rest of the decade.

    2. Bulls get Jeremy Lamb at SG after trading up in the 2012 NBA Draft. They win the 2013-14 NBA Championship--Lamb's sophomore season--with him serving as a true shooting guard and secondary scoring option.

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