UPDATED: The Warriors are definitely interested in landing Dwight Howard if at all possible. It’s a long shot, to be sure. But Golden State doesn’t seem at all deterred by Howard’s propensity for drama, his injuries, or his wanting to play for other teams.
“Are you kidding?” one source said. “He’s the best center in the game.”
Golden State officials – Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob, general manager Bob Myers along with head coach Mark Jackson – are meeting with Howard in Los Angeles today in efforts to convince him the Warriors present his best chance of winning. Point guard Stephen Curry won’t be at the meeting, but he has reached out to Howard, using his star power to try to lure the game’s best center.
According to sources, the Warriors are willing to offer Andrew Bogut along with Klay Thompson or Harrison Barnes. But the sell is to lure Dwight Howard with the prospect of a loaded lineup that features Curry, Thompson AND Barnes. The Warriors could trade Bogut and the expiring contracts of Richard Jefferson or Andris Biedrins to give the Lakers major cap relief heading into next offseason. Golden State, which can only sign Howard via sign-and-trade, believes that is the best offer Los Angeles will receive.
But first they have to convince Howard. Golden State has some favorable strengths to pitch:
* Howard will have no concerns getting the ball. The Warriors offer a style similar to his Magic squad that went to the finals – shooters on the outside giving him room to work on the inside. Golden State is stocked with unselfish players who will happily feed Howard, especially since his success will make life easier for them
* Curry represents a bonafide yet amenable star to play alongside Howard, something he didn’t have in Orlando or Los Angeles. With the Magic, he didn’t have a dominant player to run with in. With the Lakers, the star player rode him hard, which didn’t seem to sit well with Howard. If D12 is at all in search of peace and a drama-free environment, the Warriors might look appealing. (Houston perhaps offers the same in James Harden). Of course, many think Howard likes the drama.
* The Warriors made it to the Western Conference semifinals with numerous obstacles. They gave the Spurs the most problems in the West and have the pieces to play multiple styles. Right now, Golden State is looking like one of the better teams in the West. Add Howard and they instantly become an elite, challenging OKC and San Antonio. Can Houston, the presumed front runner in the D12 sweepstakes, make the same claim? Are Atlanta and Dallas just a piece away? Do the Lakers have enough left in the tank?
* I still say don’t sleep on the religious angle. A locker room full of Christians and a preacher coach might sound good to Howard, who came into the league saying he would evangelize so hard they would put a cross on the NBA logo. Howard is hardly the zealot he was when he entered the league, but I would not be surprised at all if Mark Jackson made that part of the pitch.
The Warriors are the underdog, no doubt. The Lakers can pay him the most money and may give him the best chance at a title. But if he really is off the Lakers, and coach Mike D’Antonio, Houston seems like an ideal fit and is reportedly his top choice. Dallas is an opportunity to start from scratch and have the team built around him. Ditto for Atlanta, his hometown.
It’s going to take a monumental pitch from Golden State to get D12 on board. Then they’d have to get the Lakers on board. But of course, the very fact that they’re in the mix means the Warriors have already won, in Lacob’s eyes.