No CBA yet, but rumors fly regardless
The NBA has yet to even ratify the new collective-bargaining agreement, but that has not stopped the rumor mill. As if making up for lost time, once NBA teams were allowed to contact players’ agents, rumors began churning out en masse.
It should also come as no surprise that the three players who feature most prominently in the rumors are Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, and Deron Williams — all of whom are slated to become unrestricted free agents after the season.
However, not all rumors are created equal; some actually have a plausible chance of escaping the fantasy world they are dreamt up in and becoming reality. With that in mind, here are some of the more interesting rumors from the past week or so.
Dwight Howard to Lakers : For a man seemingly obsessed with following in Shaquille O’Neal’s footsteps, this would be the logical next step. He would move to LA, play alongside Kobe, and join the list of great centers in Lakers history. This rumor has legs because the Lakers have the assets necessary to make it happen. They can offer Pau Gasol or a combination of Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom for Howard — even offering to take a bad contract (Hedo Turkoglu?) off Orlando’s hands in the process. The idea of the Lakers acquiring a dominant center at a time many are expecting to finally see LA decline scares the daylights out of many in the West, but it is definitely a possibility.
Chris Paul to Lakers : It is no secret that Derek Fisher is aging and that Steve Blake was a disappointment in the triangle offense last year; it’s one of the main reasons LA fell to Dallas so easily in last season’s playoffs. But adding a player of Paul’s caliber would re-energize the team, providing youth and a dynamic playmaker who can make life easier for Kobe Bryant and company. And, once again, the Lakers can make it happen, offering either Gasol or Bynum and Odom.
Dwight Howard and Chris Paul to Lakers : This may be every team’s worst nightmare. The Lakers can send Gasol to New Orleans while trading Bynum and Odom to Orlando to create their own Big Three. While this has all the necessary glitter befitting an LA move and the duo of Paul and Howard would assure the Lakers of a potent tandem long after Bryant calls it a career, this scenario is far from guaranteed championships. For one, acquiring both Paul and Howard would strip the Lakers of all their trademark size (except for Howard, of course). Being able to put twin 7-footers on the floor at the same time in Gasol and Bynum and then being able to turn to the 6-10 Odom off the bench to create mismatches with his unique combination of size and versatility is what made the Lakers so difficult to match up against — even more so than Bryant. Acquiring Paul and Howard would make a big splash, but there is no guarantee that it assures LA of a spot in the upper echelon for years to come.
Dwight Howard and Chris Paul to Clippers : Stop laughing. As intriguing as Paul and Howard to the Lakers may be, Paul and Howard to the Clippers is in spades. Rumor has it that the Clippers are willing to offer any player not named Blake Griffin to acquire either Howard or Paul — so long as the acquired player agrees to sign there long term. What makes the Clippers even more intriguing is that they have cap space, meaning that they could acquire one of the two listed and then sign the other as a free agent after the season. With trade chips like Eric Gordon, DeAndre Jordan, Chris Kaman, Al-Fariq Aminu, Mo Williams, and Eric Bledsoe, along with draft picks, this is far from a pie-in-the-sky idea.
Chris Paul to Knicks : This one keeps getting thrown out there by people hoping it will stick. While Paul would probably love to go to New York, the Knicks are woefully unequipped to make it happen. The team’s best trade chips are Chauncey Billups and Landry Fields, and that package plus picks is simply not enough to pry Paul away. New York can try to get a third team involved to provide assets to the Hornets, but that is a long shot since any other team would want something significant in return for helping New York like that. The Knicks can also wait it out, hoping that Paul becomes a free agent and passes on the much-bigger payday that would come from a sign-and-trade to sign straight up with New York. To put it simply, all the planets and stars would have to align perfectly for Paul to become a Knick in the near future.
Dwight Howard to Bulls : This one sounds good, but the Bulls should probably resist the temptation. Outside of Derrick Rose, Chicago can offer attractive assets to Orlando (Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng) but would have to part with at least two of them to make a deal happen, especially in-conference. As the team is currently constituted, it has more balance, and management should give this core a chance to gel before making wholesale changes.
Chris Paul to Celtics : Early in the process a rumor floated out there regarding Rajon Rondo for Chris Paul. That one has died down considerably for a number of reasons, but it served a purpose: It marked the next player for trade rumors once Paul, Howard, and Williams are settled.
Deron Williams to Mavericks : Jason Kidd is not getting any younger, and Mark Cuban would like to milk as much out of Dirk Nowitzki as he can before the big German retires. Acquiring Williams would be a significant step towards doing just that. Already there is speculation that Dallas is lowballing its free agents (Tyson Chandler, Caron Butler, J.J. Barea) and stalling in contract talks with Jason Terry in order to maintain some flexibility to pursue Williams either via trade or free agency. Cuban likes to go big, but he will have to contend with the Nets’ Mikhail Prokhorov to do so.
Dwight Howard to Nets : Prokhorov desperately wants to have a marquee name (or two) on the roster when the Nets begin play in Brooklyn in 2012. However, Williams may choose to leave that summer if the Nets do not provide enough help in the interim. New Jersey would love to pair Howard with Williams, and they can offer Brook Lopez and draft picks to help a deal along. The Nets do not have the best deal on the table, but they are far from out of the running. They will also have cap room that summer, so they may be big players in free agency if they cannot snag a player via trade.
By: Eric Lorenz
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