The Dwight Howard trade rumors have been almost as closely-followed as Lebron James' dramatic Decision, but no answers have been forthcoming. Where will one of the game's dominating inside forces ultimately playing come March 15, the NBA's trade deadline.
As of last week it was a foregone conclusion, a given, that Dwight Howard was headed elsewhere. It was almost certain he was going to the Los Angeles Lakers, then to the Chicago Bulls, then to whoever else had last been announced the home of the Magic's dominating center.
Then out of nowhere on Friday, Magic owner Richard Devos says the following six words, casting doubt once more on Howard's future: I don't want to trade him.
But a trade could be hard for Orlando to avoid, as Howard has said he wants to be traded, he has been talking smack (perhaps rightfully) about his own team's shortcomings, and he has openly stated his desire to play with Derrick Rose on the Chicago Bulls.
So, assuming that the Magic retaining Howard is out of the question, let's take a look at the other five options Superman has left himself:
As mentioned before, Howard has already said he believes that Rose and himself would be a match made in heaven: If I could play with Derrick right now and God wanted that to happen, it will happen, Howard told the Chicago Tribune. It has nothing to do with me not wanting to play with Derrick Rose. I love him. That's my brother.''
Plus the Bulls have former University of Florida star Joakim Noah to trade, along with other young risers like Omer Asik, Taj Gibson and Luol Deng, meaning they may be able to put together one of the better trade deals to offer the Magic for their franchise star. Plus Howard (and everyone else) knows the potentially-unstoppable force a team pairing Howard and Rose could create. And a potential ring is hard to say no to.
Speaking of rings, last year's champions, the Mavs, have just proven that they can bring a title home to Dallas despite their age. But that advanced age may be one of the problems that make the possibility of seeing Howard in a Dallas jersey quite unlikely. The team's key players are all more than 30 years old and earning top-dollar, meaning that the Magic will likely be uninterested in any of them, no matter how dominant they've been in years past.
The team really only has one man they can trade to a team looking to part ways with one of the best players in the league in hopes of securing some new talent and freeing up some salary space. That player is point guard Rodrique Beaubois, but Beaubois alone will get the Mavs nowhere near Dwight Howard, so the chances of Superman heading to the Mavs seem to be slight at best.
Los Angeles Lakers:
Some of the hottest Dwight Howard trade rumors have centered around the idea that the center would head to the Lakers. L.A. fans would love to see a Kobe Bryant-Howard duo, and the team has a couple of players that the Magic may be interested in trading for: Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. Bynum is one of the best players on the market, but the Lakers have suggested that they may only be willing to part with Gasol, which would likely be a deal-killer for the Magic. And Gasol is aging, as is Bryant, so Howard may not want to go to such a senior team.
But the fact is that they are the Lakers, and with Kobe, and hands full of rings, the lights may be bright enough and the potential great enough to draw Howard out to Hollywood. He's a born ham, and L.A. would befit him. It just comes down to what the front offices can hash out, and though the Lakers are not the best bet, it's not insane to think Howard may be playing in Los Angeles come next season.
Los Angeles Clippers:
Speaking of L.A., Tinseltown's other team is one that Howard has definitely been eying with envy has his own team has struggled. With bonafide superstars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul leading the Clippers, they've gone from the NBA's worst team to a club that's looking at a deep playoff run this season.
The issue that Howard would have to face up to, however, is that the Clippers surely won't trade Griffin or Paul, and any deal would at least have to include DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe. Beyond that, it's hard to see who else the Clips would be willing to trade, or that the Magic would be willing to take. Of course they could try to trade Howard for Griffin straight-up. But that seems less than unlikely. Don't put too many chips in the Howard-to-Clippers basket.
New Jersey Nets:
The Nets, who are headed to Brooklyn next year and will be one of the most-followed teams as they try to grow out of their horrendous past decade in Jersey, would love to land a set piece like Howard. But the team is not at the top of his list, though they do have quite a number of tradable players the Magic may be interested in, from young center Brook Lopez, to Kris Humphries, Damion James, Anthony Morrow and rookie MarShon Brooks. Despite Howard's qualms about the Nets, you can't rule them out of any Dwight Howard trade rumors.
In the end, Howard will play somewhere, and he says it's not going to be entirely up to Devos or any other man where that somewhere ends up being:
It's about wherever God wants me to play, wherever He wants me to go, Howard said late last month. If that's Chicago, then it's Chicago. I'm praying that He's going to put me where I need to be.