The Case for Dwight Howard
By December 2013, Dwight Howard would only be 28 years of age. Earning the 1st year of his new max contract (starts at 20.5 million) after having decided how to run his future. By choosing another team other than the Los Angeles Lakers, Dwight Howard’s contract would logically be 4 years long, but a player option at the end of the 3rd season. If he did this, he could earn his new maximum contract then if his play and his health still warrants it. After 3 more summers, Dwight Howard would have been 30.5 years of age.
Should DH choose the Lakers’ offer of 5yrs and 120M (and the key to the city), he may yet have option years added on the 4th and 5th season when he is 30.5yo and 31.5yo pondering his next contract. In terms of the monetary value, Dwight’s 120M/5 deal can be viewed as an average salary of 24 million. If he took another contract instead, via outright signing or a sign-and-trade, his deal would total 88M/4 for an average salary of 22 million. This is the real way to look at things and not on “30 million difference”.
Should DH choose another team, his deal is limited to earning 22 million annually (not bad if you ask me) and his deal would surely contain an option after the 3rd season. At this stage, Dwight would only be giving up a measly 2 million dollars. (difference between the 1st 3 seasons in LA vs the 1st 3 seasons elsewhere) If you ask me, that is not much of an incentive if he could be “happier” elsewhere. If other teams can make a case for him, and they will, then the Lakers “money” offer is not much of an advantage after the 1st 3 seasons.
The difference between the 2 deals that are presented to Dwight until he is age 31 are the same. A difference of 2 million dollars is not a strong case to make. However, it is in the aspect of team-building that Dwight will want to see the “plan” for each team. He will look at current rosters and most importantly he will look at future rosters and the team’s ability to recruit and reload. At this point, we focus the comparison on Dwight’s 3 biggest destinations: Houston, Dallas and Atlanta.
Houston wins the most-logical choice award. With no star-power on the team since Yao and Tmac, the Harden-Howard combo would become that of the same caliber. With Harden breaking out a year earlier, with a team composed of youth and flexibility and no long-term commitments, the Rockets present a brand new way of building teams thanks to its genius GM Daryl Morey aka Dork Elvis.
Basketball analytics get ahead of the game as we move into the moneyball aspect of the game. Last season, the Rockets finished in the top 3 in scoring league-wide. This without the support of another consistent scorer beside Harden. If you combine that with the prospect of adding Dwight Howard’s defensive prowess and added offensive game, watch out league! This is why I think Houston makes the most sense for Howard. But not before hearing the 2 other suitors.
Dallas has a very strong case themselves. Although for the most part, its about theatrics and the lure of Marc Cuban. After all, Cuban is someone who’s made his fortune on the geek business and has now transformed himself into a sports mogul. He is someone thats volatile in nature but would also be the ideal fit for an in-prime superstar. The same way the Lakers take care of its superstars, Cuban has a track record of very well-fed employees especially the one that brings him the most dough. So, the intangible enigma that is Marc Cuban, the ageless jumper and heart of Dirk Nowitzki and the maneuverable cap space, makes Dallas a destination not to be under-estimated.
Atlanta would also not be brushed aside. Matter of fact they win my darkhorse team to sign Dwight award. Outside the fact that this team has just won 44 games despite a roster overhaul, this is also Dwight’s hometown. Instead of being faced with treacherous decision to leave LA and sign for greener pastures, Dwight Howard can do the exact opposite of what Lebron James did just 3 summers ago. Dwight can decide to take his talents “home” and become the Superman of Georgia instead of Hollywood. And even though, this place has that much less of a lure than a Texas or California, what comes ahead might be the biggest kicker in the decision-making process: Danny Ferry.
Danny Ferry has long worked for the Spurs top management. He was also an executive in Cleveland at one point. All stints point to Ferry having a team that supports the thought process of RC Buford – a well-built team with an established core, a team filled with players that fit the theme and the coach and a team that plays like a team.
The biggest lure of all is that Atlanta, though not very openly-discussed, has the unique opportunity to make the league’s deadliest big three. Here’s How:
With only 18 million in guaranteed contracts in 2013, the Hawks have an estimated cap space of 40 million. They have Al Horford, Lou Williams and John Jenkins combining for that 18 million. From that 40 million you deduct the cap holds of their important free agents like Josh Smith and restricted FA Jeff Teague. Pending talks with Cp3 who, himself has an even keel chance of leaving the Clippers for the Hawks, Dwight Howard would be given the most-unique proposition of playing beside Chris Paul! In his hometown! And not only that, if the Hawks somehow find a way to package Horford and Jenkins to LA to participate in a sign-and-trade for a leaving Dwight Howard, somehow manage to offer the 1st dibs and uncontested offer sheet of Jeff Teague to the LA Clippers as a consolation prize, you suddenly have Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Lou Williams and the bird rights of Josh Smith intact. Knowing Ferry, this plan has already been set in motion. The Hawks can then re-sign Josh Smith at a discounted rate with the opportunity to play beside Howard and CP3. That would seriously be lob city.
And then of course, there’s us: the Lakers. We have an injured Kobe, a disgruntled Gasol, a hobbling Metta World Peace and the ageless Steve Nash.