The Bulls were not on Dwight Howard's list of preferred destinations. (Nathaniel Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)
Trade deadline week is finally here, with as many as half-dozen franchises contemplating moves that could shape the next half-decade of their existence and even alter this season’s championship picture.
This “change the landscape of the league” stuff is not hyperbole — not when names such as Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol are involved; not when the league’s glamor team, the Lakers, is in the thick of a transition era under the stewardship of an untested executive in Jim Buss; and not when the Rockets and Warriors, among others, are willing to go all-in to find third and fourth teams they could use in a monster Howard transaction.
As always, what we don’t know trumps what we know — and that statement applies not only to ongoing trade talks happening across multiple levels of all 30 franchises, but also to how the trades themselves will play out once they happen. So much in the NBA depends upon the unpredictable — luck, chemistry, roster fit, injuries, the lottery and so many other variables beyond the control of even the savviest general managers.
Which brings us to the ongoing undercurrent of chatter about the possibility that the Bulls, holders of the league’s best record, might alter the landscape of the NBA by dealing for Howard. The Magic “would like to seriously engage the Bulls in trade talks,” per the always plugged-in Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, but Chicago is reluctant to do so without Howard’s commitment to a long-term deal. Here’s more from Berger:
But the team that can make the strongest case for Orlando to depart from its risky strategy of holding onto Howard are the Bulls, who could offer 7-footer Omer Asik, Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer for Howard and Hedo Turkoglu, sources said. The Bulls also could offer a valuable first-round pick from Charlotte — top-14 protected in this year’s draft but unprotected by 2016.
Such a scenario has gained no traction since Chicago is “not on his list,” a person familiar with the situation said of Howard. Without assurances from Howard or his camp that he’d be willing to sign long-term with the Bulls, Chicago executives have exhibited no appetite for trade talks with the Magic.
The narrative throughout the league surrounding Chicago’s non-pursuit of Howard has been built on the assumption that it can offer the Magic the “best” deal. If only Howard would commit and accept second-fiddle status to Derrick Rose, or Adidas would sign off on two of its signature stars playing for the same team, then the poor Magic might be able to get something at least approximating fair value for Howard — something better than the Nets or Lakers or Mavericks or Gambling Team X could provide. Read More…