When we discuss teams that Dwight Howard might end up with, talk inevitably turns to the Los Angeles Lakers, Brooklyn Nets, Houston Rockets or Dallas Mavericks.
Could another suitor be lurking in the shadows, though?
Given the inability of each of those aforementioned squads up to now to actually acquire Howard, him ending up elsewhere isn’t the most far-fetched idea ever.
First and foremost, it’s important to preface any discussion about the Orlando Magic's unhappy center with two notes: 1.) nothing is guaranteed, and 2.) most likely, nothing will happen this summer. As of this moment, all signs point D12 starting his 2012-13 campaign as a member of the Magic.
From there, he’ll probably be traded before the deadline or he’ll play out his contract.
Why is that the most likely course of action? Well, mind you – L.A. tried to put together a package for Howard, but they got shut down. Brooklyn tried to put together a package for Howard, but they got shut down, too. Houston made about ten million moves to put itself in position to do something for Howard, but Orlando wants no part of that proposed deal either.
Where does that leave everyone? It leaves them exactly where they started. And everyone being exactly where they started puts Howard on course to play out his contract with the Magic, and then leave to go elsewhere.
Because neither the Lakers nor Nets have the cap space to simply sign Dwight next summer, his only option in that scenario seemed to be signing with the Mavericks. Jarrod Rudolph recently indicated this much in a report he did for Real GM.
According to Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld, however, there is another option that nobody is talking about: the Atlanta Hawks.
Per his report:
The Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks have been mentioned as potential suitors for Dwight Howard in recent months, but there’s a dark horse to keep an eye on as this saga continues. If Howard becomes an unrestricted free agent next offseason, the Atlanta Hawks will aggressively pursue the six-time All-Star and try to lure the superstar center back to his hometown.
It's worth noting that, besides the fact that playing for the Hawks would give Howard a chance to do what he does at home, a lot of his friends are also members of that squad. And after a summer during which he’s basically turned himself into public enemy No. 1, playing at home with friends might be just what the doctor ordered.
“Who wouldn’t want a guy like that on your team?” Hawks star Josh Smith said of Howard to HoopsWorld. “He’s the best big man in the league. I’d love to have him. Who wouldn’t? He’s the most dominant big in the game right now.
“We do have a lot of money coming off the books, especially after this year. I don’t know what the plans are. I guess every team that’s unloading money, the media thinks they’re targeting Dwight.”
Does Howard landing in Atlanta seem like a longshot? Sure. But who could have foreseen him still being a member of the Magic by this point in the summer? Who could have foreseen that he would mishandle this situation as badly as he has up to this point?
Those things were longshots, too.
So, to answer the original question: no, the Hawks’ chances of landing Howard aren’t better than all those other teams’ chances of landing him. But a lot of strange stuff has happened up to now, and Howard wrapping up this strange journey he’s been on over the past year in Atlanta actually isn’t all that crazy of an idea.