At the start of the 2013 offseason, the Golden State Warriors obtained a meeting with Dwight Howard where they gave their pitch on the benefits of joining the franchise.
The Warriors entered the Howard sweepstakes as underdogs given that they do not have the salary structure necessary to sign the talented big man as a free agent. They are projected to be over the salary cap in 2013-14 and might even flirt with the luxury tax per Hoopsworld.
Hence, the only way Golden State could acquire the three-time Defensive Player of the Year was via sign-and-trade with the Los Angeles Lakers. However, Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburn of ESPN.com reported this was initially unlikely:
Yet the Lakers also, according to sources, have not completely ruled out the idea of a sign-and-trade if they come to find next month that Howard is determined to leave. Sources say they are indeed leaning against sign-and-trade scenarios because they’d rather bank the resultant cap space from Howard’s departure for the summer of 2014. But sources say they’ve adopted a keep-all-options-open approach. So they’ll at least listen to just about anything.
Hence, it appeared as though the Dubs didn’t have much of a shot at Howard. However, Golden State’s presentation to the former Orlando Magic player apparently left quite an impression on him.
It would seem that Golden State is so enamored with the sell job they did on Howard that they are now looking into trading away some of their biggest contracts in an effort to create cap space to sign the superstar once the July moratorium ends.
Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein of ESPN.com have the juicy details:
The Golden State Warriors, increasingly convinced they have a legitimate shot at winning the Dwight Howard sweepstakes, have begun aggressively attempting to trade away players to clear the requisite salary-cap space to sign the All-Star center, according to sources with knowledge of the team’s thinking.
In addition, Mark Heisler of Sheridan Hoops shared an interesting nugget:
— Mark Heisler (@MarkHeisler) July 5, 2013
Put it all together and it seems as though the Warriors have a decent shot at the superstar. The path Golden State is currently embarking on is not without complications though. With word leaking out that management is seeking to make deals to clear cap space, it should be obvious to all players which ones are in play. Have a look at the five biggest Warrior salaries for the 2013-14 campaign courtesy of Hoopsworld: Every player not named Stephen Curry is currently on the block. And in the event Golden State cannot dump those contracts, the sign-and-trade route will certainly require them to trade away Harrison Barnes or Klay Thompson. It’s quite possible they will have to give up both.
The Warriors’ faithful might not want to give up such assets given their youth and cheap contracts. However, when arguably the best center in basketball becomes available, there almost isn’t a price too steep for him. Put it this way: A healthy Howard playing for the Warriors puts them among the top four teams in the Western Conference and gives them a chance to make the NBA Finals.
On the other side of the coin, Golden State without Howard is at best a playoff team aiming to get back into the second round. The front office is aiming for titles, and that’s what its fans have always wanted.
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