The rumors are swirling right now that Celtics President Danny Ainge still has his heart set on pulling the trigger on a major deal. The other major rumor is Orlando’s general manager is trying to negotiate a deal with a team that was not on Howard’s list of preferred teams. Do not be surprised if these two rumors are related because it is no secret that Ainge is trying to get Howard in Celtics green.
The facts are simple. The Celtics are in need of a face lift after this year. They need to get younger. Ainge has positioned the team in great shape to reload fast with great salary cap management.The Celtics have a ton of cap space available after this year. Howard could begin that facelift. They can grab Howard and another max contract player for the 2013 season.
The question is do the Celtics have the pieces. The answer is surprisingly,yes. They can offer a package of Rajon Rondo, Jermaine O’Neal, and a combination of young guys and draft picks. Ainge clearly had no issues trading for Chris Paul without a contract extension and Howard would be no different. Ainge feels he can convince guys to stay once they taste the Celtics tradition.
The deal makes sense for the Celtics for many reasons. The Celtics get a superstar center to anchor coach Doc Rivers’s defense. In the short term they get Howard to team with the aging “Big Three” and solid revamped bench.The Celtics then can survive the year with Keyon Dooling starting at point guard and then sign a veteran like a Gilbert Arenas to fill Rondo’s minutes. The long term means that maybe they get a guy like Deron WIlliams to come over to join Howard after this year. This prospect should be enough to entice Howard to sign an extension.
This deal would not be bad for Orlando.The Magic are going to lose Howard anyway. They would get a super star point guard with a great team friendly contract in Rondo that they can build around.
I have zero doubt that Ainge is the man that is behind the mystery team around the Howard rumors. Howard is too big a commodity for Ainge to not try to get in on. I am personally not seeing a deal between the two getting done. The Lakers package with two solid big men albeit with bad contracts was not enough and neither was New Jersey’s offer with Brooks Lopez at the center of it. Rondo and JO do not seem like enough to get the job done. However, I also did not think Ainge would land Kevin Garnett. Stay tuned for updates on Howard’s trade status.