HANG TIME WEST – Dwight Howard adding the Warriors to the rolling credits of his little drama just became the best thing going in free agency. The sides are scheduled for a Monday pitch session scheduled in Los Angeles to either discuss their future together as a perfect match or figure out why anyone took the meeting in the first place.
The player who reportedly wants to get away from the Mike D’Antoni offense is fielding an offer from a perimeter-oriented team headed by perimeter weapon Stephen Curry. Dwight’s hypothetical arrival in Golden State would make dumping the ball inside one of the focal points, if not the focal point, of the offense. The group known for great locker room chemistry wants the superstar that isn’t known to help in that department.
This is great stuff even by Dwightmare standards.
But this aggression isn’t wholly bad for the Warriors. Get in the Howard sweepstakes, make a great pitch that can win points with agents down the line — the way that the Clippers failed to land LeBron James but laid the groundwork for the eventual union with Chris Paul — and gain credibility as a franchise just by making the list of finalists. Maybe they can shock the world, which is right in line with owner Joe Lacob’s approach of thinking big and bold.
Except that these are the Warriors of 2013, not 2011. They have something very good going, with a victory in the first round of the playoffs and a credible showing in defeat in the semifinals. They will need to give up at least two starters, and possibly two young starters with bright futures, to get Howard in a sign-and-trade with the Lakers.
Golden State obviously knows there is a commitment involved beyond the contract. That would almost certainly mean giving up, at very least, 40 percent of the starting lineup that just made a serious play for the Western Conference Finals. Maybe Andrew Bogut, no longer needed as the starting center, and Harrison Barnes?
But what if the Lakers insist on Barnes and Klay Thompson with an eye toward the future, with Andris Biedrins or Richard Jefferson as salary-cap ballast? The uncertainty is whether they like the idea of Howard as part of the bridge to the proposed new home in San Francisco or love the idea and will stop at nothing to move forward with Howard and Curry as the new foundation.
The Rockets and Mavericks, viewed as the most serious threats if Howard changes teams, can sign him outright. The Warriors need the Lakers’ involvement to get him, leaving L.A. with the leverage over Golden State. And leaving Warriors with a barrier to the Howard sweepstakes.
Then there is the chemistry consideration. If the Warriors get turned down, as heavy odds indicate they will, they can say whatever they want about Bogut being able to handle this with professionalism. But emotions come into play at some point, compounded now by a Yahoo! report that they have looked into trading David Lee. The notion that the front office would pick around the edges to improve the team but mostly just let the group in place get better with a healthy Bogut and experience for several young players in prominent roles is long gone.
There are more ways for this to go wrong for both sides than for a great connection, and sometimes just window shopping can become costly for a team.