Talk around the league is about how the Magic cannot possibly get equal value in return for Dwight Howard. But what if a team had two All-NBA players to offer? Could it happen? Should it happen? After the jump, we think the unthinkable...
Spurs fans know what I'm talking about...would the Spurs be willing to give up Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili for Dwight Howard? For that matter, SHOULD the Spurs be willing to give up Tony and Manu for Dwight?
Let's start with an easier question, COULD the Spurs make a trade for Dwight Howard?
This year, Manu and Tony will combine for about $25 Million against the cap. Dwight will make about $18 Million. As has been widely reported, the Magic would want to ship out Hedo Turkoglu's contract in any trade for Dwight, which brings their total up to about $29 Million. Where would the Spurs find another $4 Million? There are plenty of options, but the most attractive for Orlando would have to be Tiago Splitter whose salary brings things almost exactly even. Take a look.
But that's just money, how about wins? WOULD the Spurs be willing to make a deal?
I'm going to side with conventional wisdom and say that any time you have a chance to acquire a top 5 player, you take it and you happily give up anything but another top 5 player. Now while I would put both Tony and Manu in the debate for top 25, they are not franchise players by themselves. However, TOGETHER they give you a top 3 backcourt and guaranteed ticket to the playoffs. Throw in a fairly young and promising big man, and the offer beats any Gasol/Bynum or other trade that has been discussed. Hollinger's trade analysis even rates it as slightly favoring the Magic.
The question then is SHOULD the Spurs make the trade?
The franchise has a history of pairing an aging Hall of Fame big man with a younger big, and fitting the pieces around them to make a championship roster. The risk is that history might not be enough to convince Howard to stay. But a deep playoff run this season could be very persuasive. Is a slim chance at ten years of championship contention worth the risk of having just Richard, Hedo, and Kawhi (and no one else) being guaranteed for next two seasons?
The bigger risk for the Spurs is an outright mutiny by season ticket holders. Manu is one of a half dozen guys in the league who are actually worth the price of a lower level ticket. He's a player that a franchise can bank on because EVERY SINGLE NIGHT he will do something to get the whole arena on its feet and cheering. He is more than the heart of the team. He is the heart of the franchise. As personable as Dwight can be, I don't know if he could ever replace that (though I bet he'd do fine in the HEB commercials). This would radically change the Spurs identity, and...well...I just don't know if that could ever be worth it.
So there's the question I put to you Spurs fans: SHOULD the front office be willing to do the unthinkable?