It's a trade so intriguing that not even its implausibleness can slow the speculation.
As NBA deals go, Dwight Howard to the Oklahoma City Thunder is as far-fetched as it gets.
But as long as Howard remains in limbo, or until the Thunder completes its complex payroll puzzle, there will be a convenient rationale for linking Orlando and Oklahoma City in the never-ending Dwight derby.
Some media members already have floated the idea, and at least one outlet recently erroneously reported that the teams were in talks to send the league's best center to OKC. Fans have clamored for the deal for far longer.
All the conjecture, however, fails to acknowledge one substantial fact — Howard doesn't want to play here.
That's not an indictment on Oklahoma City. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant have hushed the haters who said this city couldn't and wouldn't retain star players. Howard simply has his sight set on two locations. Brooklyn and Los Angeles.
Dallas is a last-ditch option.
But the big man wants to play in a big market, and he's driving the bus to his preferred destination a year ahead of free agency like Chris Paul and Deron Williams and Carmelo Anthony did before him.
Howard holds all the leverage because he can hold all other franchises hostage. His camp has made it clear that he will only re-sign with the Nets or Lakers if traded. Every other team would be trading for nothing more than a one-year rental.
That puts the Thunder in the same boat as 27 other teams, all of which would love to have Howard but fully understand how futile a pursuit would be.
In the case of Oklahoma City, the Thunder would have to forfeit some mix of James Harden, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins and Eric Maynor just to get Howard for one year. In essence, the Thunder would be gutting its team for a player who has no interest in staying beyond next season. Oklahoma City would then be left with Durant and Westbrook and no salary cap space to sign anyone of substance. A return to mediocrity also would be quite likely, which would prevent the Thunder from securing high draft picks with which to surround Durant and Westbrook.
It's just too risky.
And with Orlando coveting young talent, high draft picks and cap relief, the Thunder isn't an ideal partner to begin with. Oklahoma City's draft picks would be in the late 20s, and the Thunder can't afford to take on massive contracts like those owed to Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson.
From a financial standpoint, Oklahoma City also wouldn't be any better trading for Howard. If the Thunder must eventually trade Harden or Ibaka for monetary reasons, acquiring Howard would not be the deal that provides relief. It'd be a lateral money move, perhaps even having a negative effect by the time the rest of the roster is filled out.
You also can't overlook the fit.
Howard is a player who has gotten a coach and a general manager fired, made a mockery of the Magic organization with his demands and is growing an increasingly negative reputation for not being about winning. The Thunder runs from players with that much baggage. Adding Howard's ego to a team that already must be careful with how it massages Durant and Westbrook's personalities would be like playing with fire.
But on paper a trio of Westbrook, Durant and Howard instantly would become the best in basketball. It's what makes the speculation so scintillating — even if Howard wants to play for the Thunder about as much as he wants to play for the Bobcats.