The LA Clippers Need to Chase Dwight Howard
However, their co-tenants have had a quietly successful offseason as well, bulking up their bench by trading for Lamar Odom, signing Jamal Crawford and Grant Hill while re-signing Chauncey Billups. Their starting center, DeAndre Jordan, has plenty of promise and will most likely have a bright future in the NBA as he has all the makings of a dominant center. He has yet to develop any semblance of an offensive game and his defensive instincts are average at best, but he is only 24, and he has improved each season.
The Clippers are trying to appease their core of Blake Griffin and Chris Paul in an effort to build a legitimate contender for years to come. Without the benefit of a general manager, the Clippers have used the three-headed monster of Andy Roeser (Clippers President) , Gary Sacks (Director of Player Personnel) and Vinny Del Negro (Head Coach) to make their offseason moves. So why have they not entered the Dwight Howard sweepstakes?
The Lakers have Andrew Bynum on the table. There isn't a team out there that can match that offer. However, the Magic have no guarantees he will sign with the team long-term when his contract ends after this season. That would put them in the exact same position Dwight has them in now. The Cleveland Cavaliers apparently want in on the trade, absorbing Bynum and sending picks to the Magic, however, they refuse to part with their recent draft picks, another hold-up in the trade.
RealGM reported late last night that Dwight Howard is willing to commit long-term to the Lakers if dealt there. This comes as no surprise. Who is their right mind would refuse to sign long-term with one of the most storied franchises in all of sports? But that is no longer the issue. The stumbling block in this trade is the inclusion of a third team due to Bynum's indecision.
Enter, Clippers. Just like last offseason when the Clippers stole Chris Paul from under the Lakers nose, they need to swoop in and land Dwight Howard. They recently waived Ryan Gomes and his $4 million salary, allowing the team to absorb another contract in a potential deal with the Magic, providing Orlando with some cap flexibility as well as talented, young players in return.
The combination of DeAndre Jordan (2012-'13 salary: $10.5 million), Caron Butler ($8 million), Eric Bledsoe ($1.7 million) plus two future first round draft picks would be enough to absorb Dwight Howard's $19.5 million salary as well as Jason Richardson's remaining three years on his contract ($6 million per).
Stealing Paul was a huge win before last season's storied run. Snatching Howard from under the nose of their inner city rivals? Icing on the cake. Dwight to the Clippers makes sense because the combination of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Dwight Howard with the extraordinarily deep bench they've built this offseason would be an immediate championship contender. If Dwight is willing to commit to the Lakers because of the off-court marketing opportunities, the Clippers equally make sense. And why wouldn't Donald Sterling want to stick it to the Lakers? He's forever operated in their shadow, and currently has the opportunity to stick it to the man.