Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry may not sound so crazy after all.
A few days after the Golden State Warriors were eliminated from the second round of the playoffs by the San Antonio Spurs, Curry made headlines with a pretty bold statement. He told a Comcast Sportsnet reporter during an interview “We’re winning the championship next year!”
With every day that passes in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes, there are constant developments, new twists and new leads at every mention of Howard on Twitter. Howard met with the Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks and Warriors on Monday and finished with the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday. After Tuesday’s meeting, reports surfaced saying it looked like the Rockets were the front runners but that the Lakers also increased their chances of re-signing Howard.
The latest development from ESPN.com now has the Warriors in strong contention for Howard’s services and not just through a sign-and-trade deal with the Lakers. The Warriors are looking to trade away its veteran expiring contracts in order to create enough cap space to sign Howard outright as a free agent. Such a move would enable the Warriors to keep their young perimeter core of Curry, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes to pair with Howard, but this will be no easy task. What team in the league wants to be known as the team that helped the Warriors form another powerhouse for the next five years? This is one of the complicated scenarios they face.
According to the report, the Warriors are looking to move any combination of these expiring contracts: Andrew Bogut’s $14 million, Richard Jefferson’s $11 million, and Andris Biedrins’ $9 million. They are also willing to include a future first-round pick to help sweeten the deal, but any deal is unlikely because teams will want either Thompson or Barnes as well. One way or the other, the Warriors are actively trying to do what is necessary to get Howard. Realistically though, the only way he ends up with them is if Howard forces his hand with the Lakers and tells them, “Trade me or I walk.” The Lakers would then have to agree to take back an expiring contract and either Thompson or Barnes as well and this scenario is highly unlikely to happen–first, because the Warriors are in the same division as the Lakers and second, the Lakers would rather have nothing but cap space going into next summer.
Somehow, some way, if the Warriors are able to acquire Howard by either trading away Barnes, center Andrew Bogut and a future draft pick or signing him as a free agent, Curry and the franchise would have a realistic shot of following through on his guarantee.
Much of Howard’s success with the Orlando Magic came from the spacing he had on the floor with shooters around him. In the Lakers’ offense last year, Pau Gasol took up much of the operating room for Howard to be as effective as he was in Orlando and coach Mike D’Antoni tried to make Gasol a stretch 4, which failed miserably. In Golden State, Howard could play in a lineup with what coach Mark Jackson calls the best shooting backcourt of all-time in Curry and Thompson. Curry is also a playmaker who would do wonders in a pick-and-roll with Howard.
The entire franchise would be brought back to heights it has not seen since 1975, the last year it won a championship. It is hard to deny that the Warriors would be an offensive juggernaut with multiple young stars on the perimeter and Superman in the paint. If you were Dwight Howard, the best big man in the game today, why wouldn’t you want to go play for the Warriors? It only makes sense for him to be intrigued by the possibility.
Curry is coming off his best season in which he only missed four games and averaged 22.9 points and 6.9 assists per game. Thompson will only continue to get better, as he just shot 40 percent from 3 this year. David Lee made the All-Star team for the second time in his career as well and a pairing with Howard would form a dominant rebounding tandem.
As if all those reasons aren’t enticing enough alone for Howard to join the Warriors, they have Mark Jackson as coach. Jackson, a player’s coach, was one of the key speakers during their meeting with Howard on Monday and apparently he is quite the influence. Another reason why Howard can trust the franchise is because they have Jerry West, who has played a role in the success of recent drafts with Thompson and Barnes, as a head consultant. At the end of the day though, many things would have to happen in order for Howard to join the Warriors. Could it happen? Yes. What are the chances of it happening? Maybe around 25%.
Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, David Lee, Dwight Howard. That is the best starting five in the league and if Howard does indeed make his way to Golden State, Curry has a strong chance to prove his guarantee.