Yesterday I explained that because of the cap complexities, it would be extremely difficult for the Houston Rockets to acquire both Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. Today, ESPN.com is reporting that Howard and Paul have been in constant contact about teaming up. The article states that while neither player is particularly fond of the idea of playing for the Hawks, Howard’s hometown, they would consider the prospect given that the Hawks have the money to sign both players outright. Reportedly, the preference would be to join forces with the Clippers.
The report wreaks of a leak from the Paul camp in hopes of forcing L.A.’s hand into trading Blake Griffin for Howard. Without a viable threat, the Clippers could simply just call Paul’s bluff, knowing that he has no better alternatives than simply staying put. Enter the Hawks.
While they’d still have Al Horford, Atlanta wouldn’t be able to offer the tax difference provided by the Texas teams which even made the idea of leaving their own teams palatable in the first place. So you mean to tell me that they’re going to take less money to go to a city they don’t want to be in to play on a team with 9 other guys straight from the NBDL? The scheme doesn’t seem credible.
My hunch is that Paul wants the Clippers to deal Griffin for Howard, the former of whom the Clippers insist is untouchable. Paul has to be able to threaten that if the Clips don’t play cooperate, he and Howard will just team up elsewhere.
If I’m the Clippers, I deal Griffin. While he’s younger, I don’t subscribe to the doctrine of always preferring youth. That can get one into problems, especially when the alternative option is still just 27. You only have so many windows of opportunity – it would be foolish to pass one like this up.
Where does this leave Houston? As I explained yesterday, while it can be done, it would be incredibly difficult to pull off signing both Paul and Howard. My hunch again–based on nothing but my own opinion–is that the Paul camp sees Howard as its ticket. Paul can’t risk losing Howard to Houston which is pretty much a ready-made situation for the latter. That leaves Paul without options and without leverage.
As I explained in Part 1, I just can’t see either of the L.A. teams agreeing to a sign&trade with Houston. Regardless of what you think about Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin, I think the Lakers especially would prefer to just start clean than to take the players back in a trade. If the two superstars really are intent on playing together, they could really make things easier and just agree to small paycuts. That would make it easier for Daryl Morey to move the necessary parts in separate deals to be able to sign the players outright. (Even then, I still don’t see a team absorbing Jeremy Lin’s contract for free. Maybe I’m undervaluing him, but if I had the equivalent of $8.3million of cap space–whether it be through a TPE, space, or expiring contracts–I can think of at least 3o ways I’d rather use it than on trading for Jeremy Lin. That’s just me though.)
Ultimately, I don’t think the two stars will be able to pair up but it makes for interesting discussion.