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OKC Thunder: Dwight Howard joining Thunder would cripple team in long term

Adding the NBA's top center would probably be just for one year. And OKC would probably need to give Orlando a combination of players such as James Harden, Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka and Eric Maynor.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: July 29, 2012
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photo - Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard (12) drives to the basket against Oklahoma City Thunder's Nick Collison, left, during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Dec. 25, 2011. The Thunder won 97-89. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams) ORG XMIT: OKAA110
Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard (12) drives to the basket against Oklahoma City Thunder's Nick Collison, left, during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Dec. 25, 2011. The Thunder won 97-89. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams) ORG XMIT: OKAA110

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.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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