The Golden State Warriors are one of five teams Dwight Howard has met with since becoming the NBA's most coveted free agent on July 1. The team brought consultant and legendary NBA figure Jerry West into its meeting with Howard and is making a strong push for the superstar center.
The problem for the Warriors is their lack of cap space, but they're trying to work around that issue. Golden State could be prepared to offer the Los Angeles Lakers a sign-and-trade package centered around Andrew Bogut's $14 million expiring contract and either Klay Thompson or Harrison Barnes. The Lakers have reportedly warmed up to the idea of a sign-and-trade scenario on the eve of Howard's decision. Golden State has also been "aggressively attempting" to clear cap space to offer Howard a contract directly, which is an alternative if the Lakers are unwilling to accept a sign-and-trade offer. That will be difficult, but the Warriors are still trying.
So why should the Warriors work so hard to break down a young team that made an impressive playoff push to land the center?
Dwight Howard and Stephen Curry are a great fit on offense
The Warriors led the league in three-point shooting percentage last season at 40.3 percent overall. While they could be without Thompson or Barnes on the perimeter, Stephen Curry made the most three-point field goals in a single season in NBA history in 2012-2013, so expect plenty of long-distance connections regardless.
With Howard as a threat in the low post and Curry taking aim from beyond the arc, defenses will be spread thin. If Howard is doubled in the post, he can kick it back out to the perimeter to find the open man.
Howard could also provide Curry a big body to use in pick-and-roll sets. Curry ranked 30th overall as a pick-and-roll ballhandler, averaging .87 points each time he put up a field goal after taking a screen, according to MySynergySports.com. Howard was ranked ninth overall in the NBA as a roll man out of the pick-and-roll, averaging 1.29 points per possession.
Together, they could be a dominant combination that leaves defenses scrambling.
Andrew Bogut's expiring contract
Another reason the Warriors should be interested in rebuilding their roster around Howard is the expiring contract of Bogut. His contract ends after the 2013-2014 season, and the Warriors could be looking to move on without the oft-injured center.
Bogut has appeared in 32 regular-season games since the Warriors acquired him during the 2011-2012 season. Ankle and shoulder issues have plagued him throughout his career. Bogut has played in 82 games only once his entire career, and it came during his rookie season. Howard has played all 82 games of a season five times.
At 28, Bogut is an expensive piece who has been been on a downward trend since the 2009-2010 season. He's fresh off of a season in which he averaged 5.8 points -- a career low -- with unimpressive 45 percent shooting. What better way to send off what may be damaged goods than to swap him for Howard? Just ask the Lakers.
Defense wins championships
Howard could be the defensive force for Golden State who vaults the team's defense into championship territory. Howard is expected to return to the court healthy after struggling to return to form after undergoing back surgery in 2012.
The Warriors' defense gave up an average of 105.5 points every 100 possessions, ranking them 14th in the league. Adding a three-time Defensive Player of the Year to the lineup in Howard would give the Warriors' defense a boost as they try to build on their Western Conference Semifinals appearance.
Howard is agile and has an incredibly high basketball I.Q. on defense. He can provide pick-and-roll coverage for Curry against the seemingly endless number of elite point guards in the NBA with his mix of physical gifts, natural feel for the game and great footwork.
Howard is a great fit with Curry on offense, but he can make an even greater impact for the Warriors on defense.