Chris Paul and Dwight Howard have been talking recently about becoming teammates next season, according to ESPN’s Chris Broussard.
Because Broussard is reporting this, that means that it almost certainly won’t happen, but that’s beside the point.
Any team that could put the best point guard and arguably the best center in the league on the court at the same time has a chance to contend for an NBA Championship, and that’s exactly what would happen if Paul and Howard team up somewhere next year.
While it seems unlikely this will actually happen, let’s look at the potential teams that could pull this off, and how they’d stack up against the other teams in the NBA.
Atlanta is the only team with enough salary cap space to sign both Paul and Howard to max contracts. Howard is from Atlanta, and even though playing in front of his hometown fans isn’t a top priority to him, he has said he’d sign there if Paul will too.
With the addition of Paul and Howard, the Hawks starting lineup would be one of the best in the NBA. Howard would play the center position, which would allow Al Horford to move back to the power forward spot, which is where he played in college. Lou Williams and Kyle Korver, two excellent shooters, would play the shooting guard and small forward positions. This is almost a perfect starting five. Paul can score, but is best at finding his teammates for open shots. Horford is a very good midrange jump shooter and wouldn’t clog the lane up for Howard. When Howard gets double teamed, he would be able to kick it out to Williams and Korver, two knockdown shooters.
Thinking about it, this would be a very, very scary team. They would be able to beat you in so many different ways. Their biggest weakness would be their lack of athleticism on the wing, but Howard is one of, if not the best shot blocker in the game and would be able to erase some of those mistakes.
This team would contend for an NBA Championship immediately.
Los Angeles Clippers
Both Paul and Howard love living in LA, so this would be ideal for both of them. However, for this to work, a sign-and-trade would have to take place. The Clippers would resign Paul, the Lakers would resign Howard, and then they’d work out some sort of deal that sent Howard to the Clippers in exchange for a package built around Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan. For the sake of this argument, the Lakers send Dwight Howard to the Clippers for Bledsoe, Jordan, and Caron Butler. Who knows if the Lakers would want Butler, but the money works so let’s go with that.
That would give the Clippers a starting lineup of Paul, Jamal Crawford, Willie Green (they would sign a SF but they wouldn’t have one on the roster), Blake Griffin, and Howard. While this starting five is definitely better than the Clippers line was this year, I’m not sure they would be that much better than they were this season.
The biggest flaw of the Clippers team this year was that neither Griffin or DeAndre Jordan would hit a midrange jump shot, and their wasn’t room to work in the post because the other defender was sagging off into help position. Dwight Howard doesn’t help this problem at all. Howard is an atrocious jump shooter, and the Clippers would have the same issue again this year. Howard is definitely better than Jordan, but him signing with the Clippers doesn’t make them an NBA Title contender in my mind.
Reports have linked Howard to the Rockets before this offseason, but no one has reported Paul going there at all. This is highly unlikely, but as long as Darryl Morey is the GM of the Rockets, don’t count anything out. Here’s how this could work.
Houston signs Chris Paul to a max contract. The Lakers resign Dwight Howard, and then send him to Houston for Omer Asik, Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons, and a 1st round pick.
That would give Houston a starting lineup of Chris Paul, James Harden, Carlos Delfino (assuming they pick up his team option for $3 milllion dollars), Thomas Robinson, and Dwight Howard. That is a squad right there. Paul and Harden would instantly form the best backcourt in the league, and Howard would give them the post presence they lacked last season. The Rockets also have an array of shooters to put on the perimeter to open up the lane for Howard in the post.
This team would have a chance to compete for an NBA Title. Offensively, they would be nearly unstoppable. They’d have shooters, they’d have slashers, they’d have a post threat, and they’d have a point guard who would be able to distribute the ball to the right players at the right time.
If this happens, watch out for Houston.