Get your hopes up, and he’ll probably squash them. Believe, and you’re likely to be wrong. As such, proceed with caution.
Dwight Howard may or may not become a free agent following this season (depending on what unfolds at the trade deadline), but if he does, two analysts believe Boston should be a top destination.
Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix tells Green Street Boston makes sense for Howard:
“I honestly think the Celtics believe they are not out of the running for a guy like Dwight Howard,” Mannix said of the Orlando center, who is eligible for free agency after the season. “I know Boston believes they can’t get him in a trade, but I really believe the Celtics think they can sell Dwight Howard on the city and on the team if he makes it to free agency. … And Boston, to be honest with you, they’ve got a pretty good pitch. They can tell him they have Rajon Rondo in place, a great point guard, a top-five point guard, Paul Pierce under contract for the next few years and all this cap space to give him a max deal. I think Boston has a real chance to make a strong pitch to Dwight Howard if he makes it to free agency.”
Rajon Rondo, 61.5; Paul Pierce, 86.4; Ray Allen, 109.1; Kevin Garnett, minus-34.9: You’ll notice that Boston’s three perimeter players all rate very highly for playing with Dwight, and that even Garnett’s mark is pretty solid compared to the other frontcourt players on this list. You have to think this might pique Howard’s interest ever so slightly — he has a great distributor to get him the ball, two deadly 3-point shooters on either wing, and carte blanche to get every defensive rebound. (Incidentally, Garnett, like Griffin, had his 3-point percentage ratcheted down to a more a believable 30 percent from his current 75 percent on four attempts). Of course, this is only one axis of Dwight’s decision; age is another, so while Howard may be a nice fit with these four at the present, it’s hard to imagine the three elder Celtics lasting very far into a Dwight Howard tenure in Beantown.
Just allow yourself to willingly suspend disbelief for a few moments, then ponder what the current Celtics squad would be like with Dwight Howard. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce float to the corner, all alone because their defenders are double-teaming Howard. Kevin Garnett’s sometimes-frustrating love for perimeter jump shots suddenly becomes a perfect fit. Rondo has a pick-and-roll partner dropped down from heaven (or if you don’t believe in heaven, from whatever factory makes 6-feet-10 men of steel). I don’t want to say the Celtics are a perfect fit basketball-wise if Garnett and Allen decide to stay (they’d be quite old, after all) but nowhere else could combine a magical pick-and-roll point guard with two deadly shooters and a big man who thrives on playing the perimeter — in other words, the ideal complementary pieces for Howard, as long as the Celtics can still move at that age.
Think about it this way: the Magic are 18-11 starting Jameer Nelson (who aged 45 years during the lockout), Hedo Turkoglu (who may or may not have passed away two years ago), Jason Richardson (ditto to Turkoglu) and Ryan Anderson, who is the team’s only legitimate starter besides Howard. Howard is a basketball savior designed to hide teammates’ weaknesses and boost their strengths. Put him in Boston and my head would explode from the possibilities.
But sadly, I doubt Howard will come to Boston. The Celtics have not signed a worthwhile free agent, ever. Does the possibility of pairing with Rondo and spending two years with Garnett, Allen and Pierce at the end of their careers change that? I doubt it.