How The Grizzlies Can Trade For Dwight Howard.


On Monday afternoon, the Orlando Magic brought months of speculation to an end as they fired head coach Stan Van Gundy.

Van Gundy, one of the league’s winningest head coaches had come under fire over the course of the past season because of what appeared to be a strained relationship with Dwight Howard.

The sad truth of the NBA is that rarely does firing the head coach actually accomplish anything, let alone firing a good head coach and hiring someone who almost definitely will not be as good.

There just aren’t that many difference-making head coaches in this league, and there are even fewer that are available.  By all accounts, Van Gundy was one of the guys who could take a bad team and make them average, an average team and make them good and take a good team and make them a contender.

Orlando wasn’t a contender this season, and they definitely weren’t after Howard’s back injury, but Van Gundy’s teams always overachieved and even made the 2009 NBA Finals with a starting back court of Jameer Nelson and Courtney Lee.

Seriously! That was two of the guys in their starting line up! That team should have been first round fodder, but they won the east.

That’s just the superstar era in the NBA.  Wilt Chamberlain was even traded two times in his career.  It’s only natural to take the side of the player, especially if he’s a truly great player like Howard is.

The fact is that in this modern era of the NBA, when a superstar has started making noise about leaving town, the coach is usually the first to go and only once has it turned out for the team.

Coincidentally enough, the coach fired was Stan Van Gundy in 2005.  The Miami Heat had made the eastern conference finals and lost to the Detroit Pistons in six hard-fought games. The Heat started the next season slowly and Van Gundy was fired and Pat Riley took over in the interim.  The Heat ended up winning the world championship that same season.

However, the Cavs fired Mike Brown in an attempt to appease Lebron James and he left anyway, the Toronto Raptors fired Jay Triano for Chris Bosh and the Chicago Bulls fired Scott Skiles to try and resurrect an otherwise tepid season.

As we know by now, James and Bosh left their teams for Miami and the Bulls’ 2008 season actually got worse, but the point remains: firing a coach to appease a superstar never works.

Except that one time that it did.

So if things go south at the beginning of next year and Howard decides that he wants to leave, the Magic will have little choice than to deal him, but their haul will be dependent upon Howard signing an extension with his new team, and then Van Gundy will already be gone.

Yeah.  It’s complicated.

So what do we know right now? Howard’s last list of “approved” teams that he would sign an extension with were the Nets and Mavericks.

We know that the Nets traded for Deron Williams last season with the intention of having an all-star on their roster when they made their move to Brooklyn.  As good as having one star is, what could beat having two? A Williams/Howard combo could be a contender in the east going off what we’ve seen so far this postseason.  Could Williams, Howard and Gerald Wallace win a round in the playoffs? Could they make the conference finals? Who knows.

The case for Dallas is less clear to me.  Dirk Nowitzki is obviously there and as great as he’s been, you’d think he’s on the downside of his career and the west has proven itself to be a much tougher road to navigate than the one out east.

The Chicago Bulls would seem to be a logical landing spot because of their market, the presence of Derrick Rose (get well soon, #1) and their status as one of the NBA’s signature franchises.

Naturally, Howard isn’t interested in playing for the Bulls.  Some say that Adidas doesn’t want their two big-ticket guys on the same team, making a Rose/Howard combo somewhat problematic.

Still, others say that Howard hates cold weather and would reject Chicago for that reason alone.

It’s a shame that there isn’t a pseudo-contender out there that needs a true go-to guy and has an all-star center to put into a potential trade for Howard.

Oh look, it’s the Memphis Grizzlies!

Seriously though, Howard would never sign an extension with Memphis, but that’s a deal that could make a ton of sense for the Magic.

The Grizzlies could offer Marc Gasol, Rudy Gay and even a signed-and-traded O.J. Mayo as part of a package for Howard, Hedo Turkolgu’s toxic contract and whatever it takes to make salaries match for Mayo.

The Magic do it because that’s as good a haul as you’re getting for Howard.  True, the Lakers could offer Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, but would the Lakers with Kobe and not much else be any more of a title contender than the Grizzlies with a core of Howard, Zach Randolph, Mike Conley, Tony Allen and Darrell Arthur or Marreese Speights?

The Grizzlies would hate to give Gasol up, but when a player of Howard’s caliber is on the table, you do whatever you need to to get him on your team.  There aren’t many guys that would be an upgrade to Gasol, but Howard’s one.

They’d also take a hit at the 3 in going from Gay to Turkolgu, but Turkolgu actually plays pretty well with Howard and would give the Grizzlies some much needed outside shooting.  Mayo is likely gone this off-season anyway, so adding him into the deal doesn’t affect Memphis one way or the other, as long as it doesn’t require them to take back an additional bad salary.

Again, this is all dependent on Howard signing an extension in Memphis, which he would likely never do, but let’s say he did.  The Grizzlies would have the most interesting package of anyone in the league to pursue him with.

As it is, he’ll end up in Brooklyn and play for the Nets and he’ll still put up numbers, but it’s unlikely that they’d ever amount to much and after reading this trade idea, you’ll wonder why he didn’t just choose Memphis.