The Dwight Howard saga took yet another unexpected turn on Tuesday night. After the Orlando Magic's overtime win over the Miami Heat, Howard held court to say he wanted to stay with the Magic this year and "roll the dice" with this mix. Translation: he wants to leave in free agency so he can go to the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets without them having to gut their roster in a trade.
This apparently made Magic officials mad, because they felt everything should have been handled in-house. Right.
After Howard and Magic executives had promised each other to keep their conversations private, some team executives were privately disgusted with his public comments Tuesday night.
But I'm not here to mock the Magic. Ziller already did that. Instead, let's consider the implications.
A couple weeks ago, in a TNT broadcast, Craig Sager reported that all 29 teams had called the Magic to make some sort of offer, formal or informal, for Howard, even though Howard is likely to leave in free agency again. Now, consider the possibility that the Magic are so angry at Howard that they'll trade him anywhere no matter what he thinks about that. If we are to take Sager's report literally (which we probably shouldn't, but whatever), that means the Magic could make a trade with any NBA team to improve their roster and piss Howard off.
This, of course, begs the question: what would be the absolute best spite trade the Magic could make? Glad you asked! Below is a list of 27 hypothetical (and I mean hypothetical) offers, one from every team except the Warriors and Bucks, who just completed a blockbuster of their own. Find out which of these hypothetical deals tops our Dwight Howard Spite Trade Power Rankings.
BAD TRADES, BAD SPITE TRADES
27. Dallas Mavericks
- THE TRADE: Howard and Chris Duhon for Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Rodrigue Beaubois and a 2012 first-round pick. (Link).
- WHY THE MAVERICKS DO IT: Howard seems relatively open to playing in Dallas, especially with Deron Williams, and this deal ensures they don't sacrifice significant long-term assets. It's essentially like signing him as a free agent.
- WHY THE MAGIC DO IT: Because Mark Cuban is a small-market owner and they feel bad for him?
- SPITE RATING: Very low. After all, this is essentially Howard's backup plan this summer.
- VERDICT: If this is all the Mavericks can offer, the Magic are better off rolling the dice in free agency.
- THE TRADE: Howard and Chris Duhon for Chris Bosh, Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole. (Link.)
- WHY THE HEAT DO IT: Because they need to become even more of a super team.
- WHY THE MAGIC DO IT: Because who wouldn't want to replicate the 2006-2010 Raptors?
- SPITE RATING: Very low. Howard wants Miami more than Miami wants Howard.
- VERDICT: How many games would a LeBron/Wade/Howard team lose? Five?
GOOD TRADES, BAD SPITE TRADES
25. Chicago Bulls
- THE TRADE: Howard and Hedo Turkoglu for Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and Taj Gibson. (Link.)
- WHY THE BULLS DO IT: Pairing the two Adidas clients (Derrick Rose and Howard) is worth doing even if you trade several key pieces.
- WHY THE MAGIC DO IT: Because this offer is better than taking back Carlos Boozer, I guess.
- SPITE RATING: Very low, despite Adidas' best efforts.
- VERDICT: If it weren't for Adidas, I'm convinced Chicago would top the list of Howard's preferred destinations.
- THE TRADE: Howard and Ryan Anderson for Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe. (Link.)
- WHY THE CLIPPERS DO IT: Can you imagine Chris Paul and Howard surrounded by three deep shooters? That team would score on literally every single possession, and they'd defend better.
- WHY THE MAGIC DO IT: You're not doing any better than Blake Griffin.
- SPITE RATING: Sadly, low. Howard seems to be open to playing for the Clippers.
- VERDICT: The only reason I'm including this one in a spite trade power rankings at all is that is seems like one of the best fantasy trades you could ever concoct. The Clippers would never do it, but if you think about it, shouldn't they? Look at how good a season Anderson is having. Clearly, he's blossomed playing alongside Howard. With Paul smack in the middle of his prime, what gives you a better chance to win this year? A still-developing frontcourt that has a ton of upside but isn't there yet, or Howard and Anderson? I'm taking Option 2 every time.
- THE TRADE: Howard, Liggins and Harper for James Harden, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins and Nazr Mohammad. (Link.)
- WHY THE THUNDER DO IT: Can you imagine Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Howard on the same team?
- WHY THE MAGIC DO IT: Harden could be the best shooting guard in the league in five years, and Ibaka could be one of the league's best power forwards.
- SPITE RATING: Low. I know it's Oklahoma City, but it's still playing for a great team with two elite players.
- VERDICT: This would never happen, but it's fun to imagine that Durant/Westbrook/Howard super team.
- THE TRADE: Howard, Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu for Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Steve Blake. (Link.)
- WHY THE LAKERS DO IT: They get Howard, trade Gasol and upgrade at point guard all at once. I'd move Bynum to make that happen. They probably won't.
- WHY THE MAGIC DO IT: You're not doing much better than Bynum and Gasol in a trade package.
- SPITE RATING: Unclear, since we really don't know whether Howard actually wants to go to L.A. It is a big market and a great franchise, though.
- VERDICT: Even though lots of factors are holding this one up, the idea of Howard in Los Angeles makes too sense on the surface for it to be a spite trade.
SO-SO TRADES, SO-SO SPITE FACTOR
- THE TRADE: Howard and Quentin Richardson for Marcin Gortat, Grant Hill, Markieff Morris, Sebastian Telfair and a 2012 first-round pick. (Link.)
- WHY FOR THE SUNS: Steve Nash can play forever anyway, so he'll stay great throughout Howard's prime.
- WHY FOR THE MAGIC: Anytime the centerpiece of a trade is Howard's former backup, you have to do it.
- SPITE RATING: Mild. It is Phoenix, and it is playing with Nash.
- VERDICT: #freenash.
20. Denver Nuggets
- THE TRADE: Howard, Jameer Nelson, DeAndre Liggins and Daniel Orton for Nene, Ty Lawson, Andre Miller, Rudy Fernandez and Kenneth Faried. (Link.)
- WHY THE NUGGETS DO IT: Surrounding Howard with Nelson, Arron Afflalo, Danilo Gallinari and Al Harrington is about as close as you'll get to the 2009 Magic?
- WHY THE MAGIC DO IT: Nene's still great, Lawson can be your point guard for 10 years and every team that trades a superstar must also be getting back a cult hero like Faried.
- SPITE RATING: For George Karl? Pretty high. For Howard, though? Probably so-so.
- VERDICT: I don't think Howard would love playing in Denver, but I'm not wild on a trade where the best piece coming back is an expensive center.
- THE TRADE: Howard and Chris Duhon for Marc Gasol, O.J. Mayo, Marreese Speighs, 2012 first-round pick, 2014 first-round pick. (Link.)
- WHY THE GRIZZLIES DO IT: As good as Gasol may be, the Grizzlies compromise very little of their identity with this move. Considering they've already broke the bank for Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph, they might as well go all in.
- WHY THE MAGIC DO IT: Anyone who doubts Gasol's value should look at the standings and then look at the Grizzlies' injuries.
- SPITE RATING: Medium. Memphis isn't exactly a big market, but you have to think Howard will enjoy playing with characters like Randolph and Tony Allen.
- VERDICT: Howard in Memphis would be kind of awesome, but it's never going to happen.
18. Atlanta Hawks
- THE TRADE: Howard and Chris Duhon to Atlanta Hawks for Al Horford, Jeff Teague, Zaza Pachulia and a 2012 first-round pick. (Link.)
- WHY THE HAWKS DO IT: They bring Howard home and demonstrate to fans that they care about winning, sorta.
- WHY THE MAGIC DO IT: Horford's a great piece for the future, and Teague's pretty underrated.
- SPITE RATING: Mild, though you do have to wonder what Howard will think about the organization's commitment to spending.
- VERDICT: The Hawks would be crazy to not do this, but the Magic probably will get better offers.
17. Houston Rockets
- THE TRADE: Howard, Chris Duhon, DeAndre Liggins and Justin Harper for Kyle Lowry, Patrick Patterson, Samuel Dalembert, Hasheem Thabeet, Chase Budinger and a 2012 first-round pick (from New York). (Link.)
- WHY HOUSTON DOES IT: They've been searching for a center since Yao Ming got hurt and you can't do any worse than Howard.
- WHY ORLANDO DOES IT: Kyle Lowry is really good and ... well, assets!
- SPITE RATING: Mild. Howard may not love playing in Houston, but I think he'll like it more than most other options.
- VERDICT: This isn't a great trade for Orlando and it won't piss Howard off as much as, say, Minnesota (foreshadowing!), so I don't like it.
- THE TRADE: Howard and Turkoglu for JaVale McGee, Rashard Lewis, Trevor Booker and a 2012 first-round pick (top-3 protected). (Link.)
- WHY FOR THE WIZARDS: It'd go against everything Ted Leonsis believes, but John Wall and Howard is a combo you can't pass up.
- WHY FOR THE MAGIC: They'd still remain in the headlines because of everything JaVale McGee does. Well, that and the draft pick.
- SPITE RATING: Medium. The Wizards may be terrible now, but D.C. really is a fun city and John Wall is likely to be better than any teammate Howard's had before.
- VERDICT: That pick has to be completely unprotected, and even then, the Magic probably say no, so this one kind of fails.
BAD TRADES, HIGH SPITE FACTOR
- THE TRADE: Howard and Hedo Turkoglu for Antawn Jamison, Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson and a 2012 first-round pick (top-5 protected) (Link.)
- WHY FOR THE CAVALIERS: It's kind of similar to the Wizards' logic, except the games of Kyrie Irving and Howard mesh even better than Wall and Howard.
- WHY FOR THE MAGIC: A healthy Varejao is a pretty good center, Thompson is still young and that pick is a lottery pick. Yup, that's about as good as I can do.
- SPITE RATING: High. Playing with Irving will be fun and Howard could position himself as the anti-LeBron to that city. But it's also Cleveland.
- VERDICT: If LeBron didn't want to play in Cleveland, why would Howard?
- THE TRADE: Howard, Chris Duhon and DeAndre Liggins for Boris Diaw, Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, Eduardo Najera, 2012 first-round pick (top 3 protected). (Link).
- WHY FOR THE BOBCATS: They get Dwight Howard.
- WHY FOR THE MAGIC: Didn't you hear? Howard has stated emphatically that the Bobcats are his desired destination.
- SPITE RATING: Astronomical. The Magic may get nothing back, but at least this is putting their money where their mouth is if they really want to make Howard miserable.
- VERDICT: There's a reason the Bobcats are one of the worst teams to step on the floor in the last decade.
- THE TRADE: Howard and Hedo Turkoglu for Nicolas Batum, Gerald Wallace, Marcus Camby, Jamal Crawford and a 2012 first-round pick. (Link.)
- WHY FOR THE BLAZERS: The prospect of pairing Howard with LaMarcus Aldridge does seem pretty cool, and all four of the players they're trading are free agents anyway. Plus, this brings things full circle with Turkoglu after he seemingly agreed to a five-year deal with them in 2009, then changed his mind and signed with the Raptors.
- WHY FOR THE MAGIC: Blazers fans gave Otis Smith and Alex Martins a tape that plays in their sleep. It's simply an audio file of Kevin Pritchard saying "Nicolas Batum is a superstar" over and over again.
- SPITE RATING: High. I'm sure Howard will be thrilled with going to the city where great big men's careers always get cut short due to injury.
- VERDICT: "Nicolas Batum is a super ..." dammit, that tape's subliminal messaging is working on me too.
12. Sacramento Kings
- THE TRADE: Howard, DeAndre Liggins and Justin Harper for DeMarcus Cousins, Marcus Thornton, J.J. Hickson and Francisco Garcia. (Link.)
- WHY THE KINGS DO IT: As good as Cousins has been this year, you always have to worry about him going off on another coach. This at least removes all doubt.
- WHY THE MAGIC DO IT: Cousins' presence is an essential, and Thornton's actually pretty good too.
- SPITE RATING: High. The Kings have loyal fans, but they also have owners with very little money and a fellow superstar (for now) in Tyreke Evans that doesn't really play well with others.
- VERDICT: Hard to do much better than Cousins if you're the Magic, but I have a feeling Howard would grow to appreciate Kings fans.
11. Toronto Raptors
- THE TRADE: Howard and DeAndre Liggins for DeMar DeRozan, Jerryd Bayless, Ed Davis, Leandro Barbosa and the rights to Jonas Valanciunas. (Link.)
- WHY FOR THE RAPTORS: A bunch of three-star youngsters is nice, but you trade three-star guys for one superstar every time.
- WHY FOR THE MAGIC: If Valanciunas is as good as legend suggests (which he probably won't be), he's about as good a Howard replacement as you'll find.
- SPITE RATING: High. The best thing about Toronto is its nightlife, and Howard doesn't drink.
- VERDICT: This isn't the worst haul in the world, but it all depends on Valanciunas. Otherwise, it's kind of like trading Hakeem Olajuwon for Willie Burton and Harold Miner.
- THE TRADE: Howard and Hedo Turkoglu for Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Carl Landry, Al-Farouq Aminu and the Timberwolves' first-round pick. (Link.)
- WHY FOR THE HORNETS: If you had the chance to trade Chris Paul for Howard, would you do it?
- WHY FOR THE MAGIC: Look at how well the Hornets recovered from the Paul trade. (Checks standings).
- SPITE RATING: Very high. Chris Paul got tired of carrying an entire city and team on his shoulders. I'm sure Howard will be thrilled to have that burden.
- VERDICT: Take the same trade package received for Chris Paul and trade it to the Magic for Howard? You have to love the basketball reasons behind that one.
- THE TRADE: Howard, Hedo Turkoglu, Justin Harper and DeAndre Liggins for Brook Lopez, MarShon Brooks, Jordan Farmar, Mehmet Okur, Kris Humphires and 2012 first-round pick (via Houston). (Link.)
- WHY FOR THE NETS: Howard wants to play there.
- WHY FOR THE MAGIC: Even that crappy package is better than losing Howard for nothing.
- SPITE RATING: Surprisingly high. Sure, Howard wants to go there, but will he want it as much when it's him, Deron Williams and ... Anthony Morrow?
- VERDICT: There's a reason Howard would rather just sign there as a free agent.
- THE TRADE: Howard, Jameer Nelson and Chris Duhon for Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Elton Brad, Spencer Hawes and a 2012 first-round pick. (Link.)
- WHY THE 76ERS DO IT: With Hawes injured and also a free agent, they are weak down low. With Howard, they can still be outstanding defensively and now have an offensive plan that goes beyond "don't turn the ball over at any cost." Plus, it'll be fun for Nelson to return to Philly.
- WHY THE MAGIC DO IT: Holiday and Turner can be their backcourt for the next 10 years, and if Hawes stays healthy, you could do worse at center.
- SPITE RATING: High. The 76ers are a good team, but Howard's going to hate playing for Doug Collins. Also, I'm sure Philly sports fans will be very tolerant of his demeanor.
- VERDICT: I've wanted the 76ers to make a variation of this deal for a while, so I'd like to see this.
- THE TRADE: Howard, Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu for Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O'Neal and 2012 first-round pick (via Clippers). (Link.)
- WHY THE CELTICS DO IT: Dear Danny Ainge: you aren't signing Howard as a free agent this summer, so this is the only way to make it work.
- WHY THE MAGIC DO IT: Maybe they'll treat Rondo as an actual franchise piece instead of one that always seems to pop up in trade rumors.
- SPITE RATING: Medium. Boston doesn't seem like a Howard kind of city, but they have a winning tradition at least.
- VERDICT: Something just feels weird about Howard in Boston.
- THE TRADE: Howard, DeAndre Liggins and Justin Harper for Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard and Tiago Splitter. (Link.)
- WHY THE SPURS DO IT: With Tim Duncan in the twilight of his career, now's the time to find a replacement.
- WHY THE MAGIC DO IT: Parker is still really, really awesome at basketball.
- SPITE RATING: Fairly high. Do you think Howard is going to want to play in San Antonio? Do you think Howard wants to play for Gregg Popovich? If Howard is reportedly reluctant to follow the same path as Shaquille O'Neal did, do you think he'll be thrilled with following Duncan? Exactly.
- VERDICT: This would be a funny spite trade, but the Spurs would never do it.
- THE TRADE: Howard for Roy Hibbert, Paul George, George Hill and a 2012 first-round pick. (Link.)
- WHY THE PACERS DO IT: They have all this cap room and they aren't getting a free agent to sign there outright, so this is the next-best thing.
- WHY THE MAGIC DO IT: Hibbert was an all-star this year and everyone around the league seems to love George, so you'd be hard-pressed to find a more enticing package of young talent.
- SPITE RATING: High. Indiana is a region that tailors to a certain kind of star, and that's not Howard.
- VERDICT: It'd be a pretty good trade for Orlando, and suddenly, the Pacers are a legitimate threat to win the East. I like this one.
SPECIAL HILARITY DIVISION
- THE TRADE: Howard, Hedo Turkoglu and Chris Duhon for Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Iman Shumpert. (Link.)
- WHY THE KNICKS DO IT: Trading Anthony will solve all their problems. Duh.
- WHY THE MAGIC DO IT: Whoa Carmelo Anthony is available!
- SPITE RATING: Pretty high. New York is where all superstars become overpaid and underachieve.
- VERDICT: The thought of the Magic trading for Anthony just to piss Howard off is making my head spin.
GREAT TRADES TO DECENT TEAMS IN TINY MARKETS
3. Utah Jazz
- THE TRADE: Howard and J.J. Redick for Al Jefferson, Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and C.J. Miles. (Link.)
- WHY THE JAZZ DO IT: Howard immediately upgrades their defense, they keep Paul Millsap and Enes Kanter and can slide Redick into the starting shooting guard spot.
- WHY THE MAGIC DO IT: Jefferson's legitimately productive, Favors is emerging and Hayward's still quite young.
- SPITE RATING: Very high. Can you imagine Howard in Utah?
- VERDICT: I kind of like this one, both for spite reasons and because it's not that bad of a deal for the Magic.
- THE TRADE: Howard, Quentin Richardson and Daniel Orton for Nikola Pekovic, Derrick Williams, Michael Beasley, Anthony Randolph and Wes Johnson. (Link.)
- WHY MINNESOTA DOES IT: Dwight Howard, Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio together is a basketball wet dream.
- WHY ORLANDO DOES IT: If they really believe Nikola Pekovic is this good, it's actually a pretty decent offer.
- SPITE RATING: High. The Timberwolves would be an amazing place for Howard to go if he was just into being on the most fun team, but there's also the fact that it's Minnesota.
- VERDICT: If Howard gets angry about playing with Love and Rubio because it's Minnesota (which will happen), he'll become an even bigger villain than he is now. It's almost perfect. However...
- THE TRADE: Howard, DeAndre Liggins and Justin Harper for Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight, Jonas Jerebko, Jason Maxiell and a 2012 first-round pick (top-3 protected). (Link.)
- WHY THE PISTONS DO IT: I'd gut that roster for Howard too.
- WHY THE MAGIC DO IT: Monroe is quite awesome, and the pick is very high.
- SPITE RATING: Dwight Howard in Detroit. Let be pause for a second to consider that ... sorry, I can't stop laughing.
- VERDICT: This is kind of perfect. Monroe plus the high lottery pick is a great haul, and Howard playing in Detroit is just ... sorry, I'm still laughing.