Or will they?
Per Chris Broussard of ESPN.com, there have been some rumblings that the Clippers are willing to make some cost-cutting moves in an attempt to lure Howard over to the red side of Los Angeles during the offseason:
There was one interesting scenario that a few execs mentioned to me involving the Los Angeles Clippers. At the end of the day, it won’t happen but it’s worth mentioning just for fun. It’s the notion that the Clippers might move DeAndre Jordan and Caron Butler before the deadline in an attempt to clear cap space to sign Dwight Howard to a max deal this summer.
Let’s just go ahead and file that under things that are never going to happen.
I’m not saying the Clippers couldn’t create the necessary cap space in time, because they could. It would be difficult, and it would take them moving DeAndre Jordan, Caron Buter and a few others in favor of expiring deals, but it is possible. It’s not just going to happen.
Los Angeles’ red-jerseyed stepchild currently has the fourth-best record in the NBA, and I can’t picture them blowing up a success story in favor of pursuing uncertainty. There’s no guarantee that Howard would sign with the Clippers, even though they have Chris Paul. As Broussard notes, yes, Howard loves Los Angeles and yes, the Lakers are struggling, but they can also offer him roughly $30 million more than any other team can, including the Clippers.
Is Howard about give up tens of millions of dollars and an extra year of financial security?
I doubt it.
Also worth noting is that a jump from the Lakers to the Clippers doesn’t necessarily imply success for either party.
As constructed, the Clippers might be a better fit for Howard than the Lakers. With Howard’s back and shoulder ailing, playing fewer than 35 minutes per game could only help the healing process. Per hoopstats.com, the Clippers have the third-highest scoring bench in the league. Such depth allows them to play Jordan less than 25 minutes a night, a workload that is more conducive with Howard’s physical health.
That said, this means absolutely nothing. Not only would the Clippers be foolish to shell out max money for a player that they’d only play 25 minutes a game, but obtaining Howard would decimate the depth they’ve worked so hard to assemble.
Remember, removing Jordan from the picture isn’t going to be enough. Los Angeles will have to cut ties with three to five players just to have the cap space necessary to sign Howard. And where would that leave them?
Right next to the Lakers as one of the Association’s more shallow teams.
Paul and Blake Griffin are in their primes, so the depleted supporting cast may not affect the Clippers as much as it has the Lakers, but it’s going to have an impact. Taking into consideration how poorly Howard and the Lakers have fared under such circumstances, it’s safe to assume that “impact” isn’t going to be a favorable one.
Speaking of Griffin, could Howard and him ever co-exist? The latter and Pau Gasol have bordered on incapable of playing together, and those very same problems would arise next to Griffin. One could even argue they’d be worse.
Gasol is 32, and the Lakers could either trade him or let him come off the books after next season, in which case Howard is then the only one operating in the post. Far from the same can be said of Griffin. The Clippers aren’t going to trade him as he, unlike Gasol, factors into his team’s future.
So, like Broussard himself even admits, buying into such conjecture is beyond futile. Even if the Clippers could make room for Howard, the cost from a personnel and financial standpoint is much too steep. And the risk far too great.
We know very little about Howard’s future in Los Angeles. But what we do know suggests there is a very real opportunity for him to spurn the Lakers and take his talents elsewhere.
That “elsewhere” just isn’t going to be across the hall.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.