If Paul Millsap decides to walk in free agency, the Hawks may have no choice but to rebuild. This makes dealing Dwight Howard before next season a distinct possibility. Howard may not be the superstar that he once was, but he was still a highly effective player for Atlanta in his first season. There will be suitors out there for Howard’s services if the Hawks opt to go in that direction.
Hawks deal Dwight Howard and the #19 overall pick to the Charlotte Hornets for Marvin Williams, Marco Belinelli and the #11 overall pick
Charlotte was in the market for the Howard’s services last season and may have even been offering him a larger contract. They currently have a trio of young centers in Cody Zeller, Miles Plumlee and Frank Kaminsky, but none of them provide the physical presence on the boards and on defense that Howard does. He would be an immediate upgrade at the center position for the Hornets and get them a little bit closer to legitimate championship contention.
The Hawks do not get to shed much salary, as Williams and Belinelli account for about $19 million this year. However, former Hawk Marvin Williams, would provide more wing depth and shooting for an Atlanta team that is lacking in those areas. Belinelli would also add another pinpoint shooter off the bench and his contract expires after next season. The real prize in this deal is the #11 pick from the Hornets. The Hawks will not be able to dump a bunch of salary, but moving up 8 spots in this loaded draft could help the Hawks tremendously down the road.
The problem: With the Cavs and Warriors currently dominating the NBA, the Hornets would be fooling themselves if they thought the addition of Howard would make them legitimate contenders. Howard would certainly put Charlotte in the playoffs, but he really does not increase their championship odds, so it would be hard to justify giving up the #11 pick.
Hawks deal Dwight Howard and the #19 pick to the Portland Trail Blazers for Festus Ezeli, Shabazz Napier and the #15 pick
The Trail Blazers really went hard after Howard last season, and given his production in Atlanta, they probably would still be interested in acquiring the 8-time all-star. Howard could be the defensive presence in the middle that Portland has not had, and they give up very little to receive him.
The Hawks pull this move as primarily a salary dump as they commit to a rebuild. They pick up two expiring contracts in Festus Ezeli, who would serve as a very effective back up big man for the next season, and Shabazz Napier could be the future back up point guard for the Hawks. Malcolm Delaney really struggled in that role last year, and Atlanta desperately needs to add depth at point guard. Atlanta also moves up four spots in the draft.
The problem: The Trail Blazers acquired Josuf Nurkic prior to the trade deadline last year. Nurkic broke out as a starter for the team, averaging 15.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.9 blocks and 1.3 steals. While the 19 games he played for Portland is a small sample size, Nurkic looks like the real deal. Acquiring Howard for $23 million is no longer necessary.
Hawks deal Dwight Howard and the #19 pick for Kennth Faried and the #13 pick
Denver only has one true center on their roster and that is Mason Plumlee. Nikola Jokic could benefit from a full time move to power forward. Howard would provide help on the boards which would allow Jokic to focus more on scoring, similar to the effect Tyson Chandler had playing alongside Dirk Nowitzki. He would also be a significant upgrade over Plumlee. The Nuggets have been looking for a piece to draw a crowd and make them more competitive. Howard could be just that as the veteran in a group of blossoming stars.
The Nuggets have shown willingness to part ways with Faried as he continues to see a decrease in minutes. Faried is an undersized power forward that makes up for it with his ridiculous athleticism and relentless motor. He could immediately contribute as a starter or off the bench for Atlanta and still has two years left on his contract. Atlanta also moves up 6 spots in this year’s draft while shedding over $10 million in salary per season.
The problem: It all revolves around the Nuggets, as this deal would certainly catch Atlanta’s eye. Kenneth Faried is a nice piece going forward, and Atlanta is able to shrink their cap number by a large number and move up in the draft. Denver, however, may not want to slow their rebuild by acquiring Dwight Howard. While they are desperate to return to the playoffs, there is no way Howard makes Denver a championship contender.
Hawks deal Dwight Howard and the #31 overall pick to the Milwaukee Bucks for Matthew Dellavedova, Mirza Teletovic and #17 pick
The Bucks are a young team on the rise, but could certainly use a dominant rebounding and defensive threat in the post. Milwaukee might try and deal Greg Monroe, and adding Howard to replace him could be in the cards. Howard would solidify Milwaukee defensively and put the Bucks one step closer toward being championship contenders.
The Hawks do not dump a lot of salary in this deal as both Teletovic and Dellavedova are signed for multiple years. However, both players could play roles on the Hawks as they look to rebuild. Dellavedova is a nice backup point guard and Teletovic would provide shooting off the bench. Atlanta certainly would not be competitive after completing this deal, but they would trade up 14 spots in the draft and begin focusing on the future of the organization.
The problem: Milwaukee has a lot of money invested in Greg Monroe. They may not want to invest that much money into their front court. Atlanta has also suggested that they want to remain competitive and avoid a rebuild. That would not be the case with this move, as Teletovic and Dellavedova are no where near as talented as Howard.
There are not going to be a lot of bidders for Howard’s services this offseason. His resumé of off the court issues as well as his declining numbers will deter most teams. Even the teams that will consider a deal, are not going to be willing to part ways with much value. If the Hawks want to complete this trade, it is going to have to be at a discounted price that will probably force the team to rebuild. The Hawks will likely explore the market for Howard, but given the ownerships reluctance towards a rebuild, a trade is still highly unlikely.