Howard Plans Exit, But Is Boston Big Enough For Him?

In a recent interview with Scott Raab from Esquire, Dwight Howard sounds as good as gone from Orlando.
“I just don’t know what else I can do” in Orlando when asked about his free-agent future.
Asked by Raab if he sees himself in a much larger market, Howard said, “There’s more you can do in a bigger place. I’m stuck in a tough position because I feel like right now, where I’m at, I’ve done so much.

“And I just don’t know what else I can do. I can’t live for everybody else. I don’t know what decision I’m gonna make as of right now. It’s been crazy. Everybody wants me to come here, come play here, come to our team, do this. It’s a great feeling, though, to be wanted.”

Raab, who apparently just met Howard, says, “You’re gone. I can feel it.”

Howard responds, “The toughest part for me is the city — the people. They’ve got burgers named after me in Orlando, they’ve got a Web site saying, “Please stay.” I love the people in the city. I’ve literally sat on the bench with a towel on my head crying, because I feel the passion in the stands. I just think about what’s going to be best for what I want to accomplish in my life. And I don’t want that door to close on me, wherever that door is. I don’t want it to close.”
I'm not 100% sure what Howard is looking for. My guess is that he's jealous that LeBron, Bosh, Wade, KG, Pierce, Ray, Gasol, Kobe, Amar'e, and 'Melo have all got to team up with other stars and he's essentially been alone in Orlando all these years. Also, Howard obviously has always looked up to Shaq and he has 4 titles to Howard's zero. Shaq has played with Penny Hardaway, Horace Grant, Eddie Jones, Kobe Bryant, Glen Rice, Dwyane Wade, Steve Nash, Amar'e Stoudemire, LeBron James, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, KG, and Rajon Rondo. That's 14 all-stars that Howard would die to play for. So it's not really fair to compare Howard's zero titles to Shaq. Shaq doesn't win any titles without Kobe and Wade.

Howard might be making a mistake leaving Orlando. The last star to want out of Orlando was T-Mac (also complaining about having to do it all on his own) and if T-Mac had stayed he would have gotten to team with Howard, which would have been a more successful pairing than with Yao.

Howard might think Orlando isn't going anywhere, but with the amnesty provision sure to be included with the new CBA, Gilbert Arenas will be off the books and Orlando should be able to clear enough cap space to finally be able to pair Dwight with another star, possibly Deron Williams or Chris Paul.

If Howard is set on moving to a bigger market, he should realize his options aren't that great. I can't imagine Orlando trading him to in state Miami for Bosh, so there goes the Heat. The Lakers will be way over the cap, unless Stern somehow allows them to release Kobe via the amnesty clause and then resign him for peanuts (He still would get to keep all his money). I guess they could trade Bynum or Gasol for Howard, but again I don't see Orlando going for that. There also might be a new provision in the upcoming CBA, which prohibits traded players from getting the max if traded within a year of free agency. (Tangent: Has anyone thought how teams could use the threat of trading a guy to get him to extend for less than the max? like if you don't take this generous offer, we'll trade you and you won't have a chance to get a comparable offer ever again?)

The most likely scenario for Howard if he wants a big market is a trade to the Brooklyn Nets and a pairing with Deron Williams. Brooke Lopez would obviously be the centerpiece of that trade for Orlando.  Howard has expressed interest in Dallas, but I'm not sure how Dallas could pull a trade off. They don't have the young assets to move.

A couple interesting big market teams that no one has talked about are the Golden State Warriors and the L.A. Clippers. The Warriors have a great fan base and the large Bay Area market. They could either trade some of their assets for Howard or trade them away, packaged with big contracts, and try and sign the Howard/CP3 combo next Summer.

The Clippers would want to keep Blake Griffin, but a package starting with budding star Eric Gordon might get them at least to the bargaining table.

The Knicks won't be able to add the salary to their cap, so that leaves the Bulls as the last big market team. I think Orlando would laugh at a Noah/Boozer offer.

Not a big market, but a place where NBA players like to go to is Houston. They have a savvy GM and could attempt to get in the mix for the Howard/CP3 combo.  NBA players used to like Phoenix, but they've become sort of a mess recently do to a cheap owner.

So as you can see, there are a lot of options out there for Howard, but none are that simple. You just can't decide, "Hey I want to play in New York or L.A. and make max money and play with another star or two." It doesn't always work like that. If Howard wants to win both Boston and Washington will have the cap space to pair him with a top point guard in either Rajon Rondo or John Wall (who I think is going to have an amazing 2nd season). This amnesty clause will really screw the Celtics, because all these teams will get to cut some hideous dead weight and become players for top talent. With Rashard Lewis the Wizards hands were tied. Once he's amnesty waived, the Wizards all of a sudden have over 20 million to play with a season.

There hasn't been one report that Howard is interested in Boston. The ONLY way he comes to Boston is if trades to his preferred landing spots fall through and he deems Boston the team with the best chance for him to win titles out of the teams with cap space. Doc Rivers could help entice him and maybe Bill Russell as well, but Howard would be choosing winning over glamour if he chose Boston and I'm not sure that's his top priority. While Boston is a great sports town it's not a "Big" city. You don't move here to star in movies or to promote your brand. You move to NYC, L.A, Miami or Chicago. Unfortunately those options might not be available for Howard, so if he's set on leaving he should realize now he can't get everything and decide on his priorities.