The start to the 76ers 2012 season could not have started much better for the fans. In Philadelphia, we finally assembled an exciting, young, energetic, and talented team to finally compete for an NBA championship again.
And then this happened.
In today's version of the NBA, teams are driven by superstars, and thanks to those first free-agents who started the trend of taking their talents to form one big talented swirl of shit, its forcing other superstars to want (and need) to do the same to compete in the league.
As teams like Miami, Chicago, Boston, and Los Angeles (both) come together with several top-tier players, the remaining lone superstars just wait for their chance to ditch their team and sign somewhere else, where another star is already waiting.
Now that Chris Paul has found some footing in Lobs Angeles, Dwight Howard is up next.
The Orlando Magic center has been nothing short of an undeniable force, averaging 18 points and 13 rebounds over the course of his 7 year career. On January 11, he put on a Wilt-esque performance with 45 points and 23 rebounds against the Blazers.
Regardless of the numbers, you cannot ignore his presence in any game (even if its just because of his shiny silver arm bands leading to his watermelon-sized shoulders).
But there is no other forces in Orlando with him. So what does Dwight need to do? Request a trade, of course!
And because superstar players now have the league wrapped around their fingers, Dwight even went as far as to give the Magic organization of list of teams that he would sign a long-term deal with, including the Mavericks, Lakers, and Nets.
Howard prefers to be traded to the Nets because of the opportunity to play with (surprise!) superstar Deron Williams. However, the injury to Nets' center Brook Lopez, who was a center piece to the deal, broke a bone in his foot before the season started.
Now, the Nets are scrambling to get a deal back together, the Lakers were already blocked for trading for Chris Paul, and the Mavericks never really showed initial interest for Howard, so could his list have to expand?
More importantly, can Philly get on the list?
A main goal of new Sixers owner Adam Aron is to make Philly a destination that superstar free agents at least consider coming to. While we have no superstar for Howard to join, the Sixers should at least be showing up on his radar.
Now listen, I'm not saying I want Dwight Howard in Philly, and I'm not even convinced that we need him, but it would be very cool if in the next couple weeks a tweet from him says "jus put Philly on the list, hit me up @Sixers!" To which Adam Aron would immediately respond "HOLY SHIT! BOARDING MY JET TO ORLANDO NOW." To which Philly would respond "We have an NBA team?"
If this were to happen, should the Sixers push for him? Make an offer for a sign-and-trade? I'm no expert on salaries and all this new CBA nonsense, but I'm pretty sure the Sixers have the room to work it out.
Right now, with the Sixers playing the way they are, and winning the way they are, it's easy to tell Howard to suck it and to see how far this team can go with the talent they have this year.
With Spencer Hawes playing up to his I-want-a-new-juicy-contract standard, I feel like my complaints for a dominant center have been stifled (as long as Samuel Dalembert never, ever comes back). And I wouldn't really like to lose any of the young players that we have groomed to play at the level that we've seen this year. (Even after Andre Iguodala clanks another free throw off the rim).
On the other hand, by giving up one or two young players, a shitty contract, and some picks, we could get the most powerful defensive force in the league. A young core in Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner along with Dwight Howard would be quite a sexy team in the East and possibly a legitimate title contender for years to come. And as I have written before, I think that great team play beats out a group of talented a-holes 9 times out of 10.
Picture it: Jrue Holiday and Dwight working a flawless pick-and-roll, Evan Turner getting any missed jumpers cleaned up by the big man, or Lou Williams breaking down his defender and getting to the secondary only to toss it up and have Howard punish the bearings on the rim.
So should the Sixers see if they can get onto Howard's list? If you think they shouldn't, you can't say it wouldn't hurt to at least try. And Adam Aron would get back a ton of lost Sixers fans if he makes an public effort to push for a superstar like Howard.
As for me, I wouldn't want to give up any of our players and ruin the chemistry that we created for this great start to the season, but if the right deal came along, I wouldn't be able to say no.
Howard is an elite player, and while I don't think any team should ever gut their entire core just for one superstar (as the Knicks watch Denver being oddly successful with their whole 2010 roster), I think that making certain moves for a player of his caliber is a necessity at some point.
And not only is Howard a beast on the court, he is just a fun dude. Our city would have a massive talent that loves fan interaction and charity work and who hasn't ever complained about practice or killed a dog.
Not only would the Sixers be well represented, but he would bring our city fresh, positive attention that we haven't seen in quite some time. The Sixers fan base would double immediately and the organization wouldn't have to give away free tickets to fill the seats.
And if this were to happen, Dwight would certainly forgo the Heat-like celebration at the Wells Fargo Center for a much more fan-friendly welcoming party.
I can see it now, holding up his jersey at the bottom of the art museum steps in a grey Sixers hoodie, then turning around and running up the steps like a modern-day Rocky, only to unveil a statue of himself dressed as Superman that he bought with his signing bonus.
But, with watermelon-sized shoulders.