The Case For Dwight Howard

(AP Photo)

We’re now six days out from the 2016 trade deadline and the Rockets have began contacting teams about a possible trade for Dwight Howard. In typical Howard fashion, the 30-year old center is expected to opt out of his contract this summer and become a free agent, leaving the Rockets no choice but to try and get something in return for him. This, coupled with the fact that the Rockets find themselves with a 27-28 record at the All-Star break, makes them big-time sellers.

This is the PERFECT time for Danny Ainge and the Celtics to pull off a low-risk, high-reward deal. I recently preached that Al Horford is the best fit at this time, but with Ainge’s recent interview on 98.5 THe Sports Hub, it doesn’t seem likely that the Hawks will move any of their key pieces. Instead, Ainge believes they are trying to gauge the market value of their players and if they were to move them, it wouldn’t be a bargain. Houston on the other hand, is more inclined to take the best offer they can get, which could very well be from the Celtics.

According to Nets former Assistant GM Bobby Marks, Boston is in the best position to strike a deal with Houston for a variety of reasons. They have the assets to make a deal, they have a legitimate need for another star, and it just doesn’t make as much sense for other teams with comparable assets to make a deal at this time. In his article for Yahoo, Marks laid out a potential trade that would send David Lee, Jonas Jerebko, and Boston and Dallas’ 2016 first-round picks in exchange for Dwight Howard and Montrezl Harrell. Personally I LOVE this trade.

I’ll admit, I’ve grown fond of that big, energetic Swede Jerebko, but the thought of keeping Brooklyn’s picks and only losing one rotation guy for Howard and Harrell is too tempting to pass up. Obviously this trade is simply speculation, however it makes sense when you look at cap space for both teams and when you consider the source – a former Assistant GM – it seems at least somewhat legitimate.

You pretty much know what you’re getting from Howard. He’s a walking double-double and I think he’d thrive with the Celtics since he wouldn’t have to bear as heavy of an offensive burden as he’s had to in the past. I know he’s a superstar, but I think form a playing perspective, he could fly somewhat under the radar with the pieces the Celtics would have surrounding him. Thomas, Turner, Crowder, Bradley, Olynyk, Smart, etc. (the list really goes on-and-on) could do the heavy lifting on offense, leaving Howard to gobble up offensive boards and put-backs and really focus on defense. Adding Howard would finally give the Celtics a rim-protector and a legitimate big-man that could stop or slow down the other bigs around the league that have continuously bullied the undersized Celtics. Sure it wouldn’t exactly fit with the small ball lineups Brad Stevens has turned to, but if you don’t think Stevens could find a way to make it work, then you haven’t been watching Celtics basketball. I’m a firm believer that you could give Stevens just about any group of guys from across the league and he’d find a way to get them to win games. He’s just that good of a coach. Call me crazy, but I think adding Howard makes them a contender THIS YEAR. They’ve already shown they can hang with the best of the best and that’s with the rag-tag bunch of over-achievers they have, never mind adding one of the most dominant defensive centers in the league.

Beyond Howard, this potential trade shows Boston getting Harrell as well. I’ve been a fan of Harrell since his days at Louisville and watched the draft last year praying that the Celtics would take him. At 6-foot 8-inches, he’s definitely undersized and he has little-to-no offensive game outside the paint, but boy is he athletic. He wouldn’t fit the mold of most of the Celtics’ bigs, i.e. having the ability to shoot from outside, but he can run the floor with the best of them and he’s an absolute monster in the paint. Even at 6’8″, he’s a legit rim-protector and to top it all off, he’d only be a throw-in in this scenario, meaning he may not even crack the rotation right away. He would certainly fit the youth movement the Celtics have been cultivating.

The Rockets would also be unlikely to keep Jerebko next season since his contract is non-guaranteed going forward. Although it is unlikely that the Celtics would go for him next year, because hopefully they’ll be after some bigger fish over the summer, there would be a chance to reunite with the Swede next season.