Feb 26, 2012; Orlando, FL, USA; Eastern Conference center Dwight Howard (12) of the Orlando Magic is surrounded by Western Conference guard Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers (3) Brake Griffin (32) of the Los Angeles Clippers and Kevin Durant (35) of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the fourth quarter at the 2012 NBA All-Star Game at the Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE
I have a problem. When I see reports like the one earlier today in which a "source" called the Los Angeles Clippers "a real and viable suitor" for Dwight Howard, I tend to think logically about the situation, which only leads me to conclude that the report is complete B.S. (unless the author or perhaps the source simply doesn't understand the definition of "real" and/or "viable"). I know I shouldn't do that, using my brain and all, but I just can't help myself.
Let's be clear: if the Clippers are not going to include Blake Griffin or Chris Paul in the deal (which of course they would not), then any deal for Howard is a complete no-brainer from L.A.'s perspective. The simple fact of the matter is that there's really only one mildly interesting trading chip on the roster at this point, and that's Eric Bledsoe. The Clippers would be borderline happy to get rid of anyone else on the roster -- because let's face it, guys like DeAndre Jordan and Caron Butler are actually overpaid when you get right down to it.
Orlando is clearly in a tough spot, as is Howard at this point. Howard had a grand total of one team on his list, and that team moved on today when the Nets traded for Joe Johnson. (By the way, how painfully mediocre is that team going to be? They seem to be willfully putting together a team that will pay the luxury tax every season, and will never make it out of the first round of the playoffs.)
With Brooklyn no longer an option, one report had Howard turning his attentions to Dallas. But the Mavericks have even less to offer in trade than the Clippers. Does anyone really believe that Orlando is going to trade Howard for Rodrique Beaubois, Shawn Marion and Brendan Haywood?
Now, you may be saying "But Orlando has to move him or risk losing him for nothing, and Dwight has leverage because he won't agree to an extension with a team he doesn't want to play for." That's all true, but remember that some teams will be willing to take the chance on a one season rental and the hope that they can change his mind about staying -- if nothing else, they'd give themselves a head start in free agency by having his Bird rights. The price tag will be lower if he refuses to sign an extension -- but it won't be Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan low.
What's the absolutely best offer the Clippers could make without including Griffin or Paul? Bledsoe, Butler, Jordan, Travis Leslie and Trey Thompkins for Howard and Hedo Turkoglu (whose only got two years on his contract at this point so isn't even that big of a problem any more). The Clippers could throw in some picks as well, but how valuable are first round picks from a team with Paul, Griffin and Howard going to be? I promise you that even if Orlando is to the point of desperation where they feel they must move Howard at all costs, some team will be able to make a better offer than that even for a Howard rental. Look at the haul Utah got from the Nets for a year and a half of Deron Williams with no extension guarantee.
Trust me, as nice as it would be to think otherwise, the Clippers are neither real nor viable as a trade destination for Dwight Howard.