NBA Rumors: Are the Atlanta Hawks in Play for Dwight Howard?

By Michael Collins

After a week of unbelievable movement in the NBA, the Dwight Howard saga continues in Orlando, with no real end in sight.

Dwight Howard wants to play for the Brooklyn Nets, but because of all the moves made by the Nets in the last few days, the chances of that happening anytime soon are slim, even if the Orlando Magic wanted to make a deal now.

Enter the Atlanta Hawks and the Danny Ferry rebuilding project.

There has been talk that the Hawks – who haven’t had a true center since the days of Dikembe Mutombo – would be willing to part with a number of players to get Howard to come to Atlanta.  Names such as Zaza Pachulia, Jeff Teague and even two-time all-star Al Horford have been mentioned.

The pitfalls for Atlanta:

  • The Hawks would most likely have to give up a lot for what could end up not only being a one-year rental of Dwight Howard, but with Josh Smith also becoming a free agent in 2013 both players (who are good friends) could potentially walk.
  • Horford and Teague are now the young centerpieces of this team with the trades of Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams.  Handing over two talented young players for one superstar with a lot of question marks surrounding his future is too risky.
  • Howard didn’t even have Atlanta on his short list of preferred destinations last season, so the chances of him being happy enough to sign a long-term deal even if he did come to Atlanta are not good.

In the end, I think bringing Howard to Atlanta would excite fans for a short time, but with the lack of pieces surrounding him, the Hawks probably wouldn’t find much more success than they’ve had the past few seasons…possibly even less.

There was a time late last year when Howard had a wish-list of four teams, and the Los Angeles Lakers were one of the teams on that list.  He could reopen that possibility, and ask the Magic to send him to Los Angeles now that the Lakers have landed Steve Nash.

It’s been rumored for some time that a potential deal sending Howard to the Lakers for Andrew Bynum had been discussed, and that talk will probably start to heat up once again.

The risk for any team interested in Howard is that he will be a free agent in 2013, so if he’s sent to a team that isn’t really his number one choice, it could end up being a one-season rental.  Howard is also coming off back surgery and it’s unknown when he’ll be able to return and if it could possibly be an issue for the rest of his career.

The only way Orlando general manager Rob Hennigan will do a deal for Howard is if it’s going to help the Magic.  He’s not going to trade him just to be done with it.  And although the Hawks have some of the right players to help Orlando in a deal, they aren’t deep enough right now to be able to compensate for those losses even with bringing a talent like Howard to the team.  It’s more likely that Howard will be traded to the Lakers or another large market team with more available players to trade without decimating their roster.

Chances are, Howard will be traded before training camp opens in the fall, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him open the season in an Orlando uniform.

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