The Center of Attraction in Boston


Rumors can be fun, especially when it is about the Boston Celtics potentially becoming a better team. There are many things this team is missing to become a true championship contender in the NBA. One of those missing pieces is a legitimate center/big man that can help on both defense and offense (RIM PROTEC…not going to finish that).

The team has coveted DeMarcus Cousins ever since he’s entered the league (or, at least, it feels that way). However, a few more names can find themselves squarely in the “center” of the Celtics rumor mills. I’m talking about Houston Rockets’ center Dwight Howard. Could the misunderstood/polarizing player be heading to the Hub?

It was Sheridan Hoops’ very own Chris Sheridan who dropped a few bombs in the NBA world, which included Howard. Rumors are spreading about him not liking the long-term plan in Houston and that he will opt-out this offseason. If that’s the case, then Houston will obviously do all they can to make a deal happen, so the team does not lose Howard for nothing (a classic NBA tragedy). Of course moving the former number one overall pick is easier said than done, with the kind of money he is making.

So I ask the question: should the Celtics make a deal to acquire Dwight Howard? A deal that involves David Lee wouldn’t hurt, considering the kind of money he himself is earning this season. It would, at least, help the Celtics make a deal that wouldn’t force them to trade away A TON of assets (in the shape of players) Plus; Kevin O’Connor wrote an earlier piece about how every lineup the Celtics have put out there is better without David Lee. I’d like the team to acquire Howard if it means moving on from Lee. If Danny Ainge can turn Lee into Howard, I’m all for it and believe that would be his best trade to date. Houston’s front office would ask for more than Lee, but I do believe Lee is the starting point for any negotiations on Boston’s end. Howard is putting the Rockets in a difficult decision since he could just be a rental to any team after the trade.

Hate him if you want, but Dwight Howard fits a lot of needs that the Boston Celtics currently have. Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not as if Howard is playing like he did back in Orlando (18 points and 13 rebounds per game in Orlando). Right now Howard has averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds for three years with the Rockets, which the Celtics would love to have on their roster. With how well Brad Stevens has coached this current Celtics team, I wonder if he could fix Howard’s recent struggles. If they do make a move for him, the team gains a legitimate “star” who can make some noise in the Eastern Conference.

So the Celtics should make a move for Howard if he’s available. He would make the Celtics a more dangerous team, and give them a rebounding boost that they have desperately needed since the departure of the “Big Three.” Some might complain about his free throw percentage and his injury history if he was added, thinking that he would be a poor player to acquire. Not to mention he’s also 30-years-old and has played in the league since he was 18-years-old (a lot of miles).

But for the Celtics, Howard would fit so many needs, and would be a great fit in Stevens’ up-tempo offense. Not to mention his elite defensive ability is a rare asset to find in the NBA. He isn’t my first choice, though. If the Celtics could attain any name on a shopping list, the number one name should be a center that is currently playing in Sacramento.

I ask the question about Howard because the Celtics also came up in a rumor about how they and two other teams are making serious inquiries about Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. Again and again, Cousins cannot stay out of any rumor that involves Boston. He’s desired by this team so much that he might as well have half a Celtics jersey on now.

The Celtics should seriously consider signing Al Horford if they cannot snag a top-tier center. It could be the smarter move, instead of draining the treasure trove of draft picks. Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

But would Cousins be the better option to have on this current roster? Cousins is obviously a much better player than Howard right now, even though there are more chances to fail with “Boogie” than with Howard. The talent is there, but would he listen to head coach Brad Stevens at the first pitfall the team faced? Cousins doesn’t know what it’s like to win in the NBA (he hasn’t won more than 29 games in a season). It’s not like Stevens has won anything in the NBA, either, but it’s a players league. As soon as trouble brewed in Boston (mainly thanks to the media), Cousins and Stevens might clash, causing a huge rift in the locker room. However, the talent is just so tantalizing to add. Just looking at the numbers Cousins has this season (and his last two), makes me wonder how much better they’d be wearing a Boston uniform. He fits Steven’s system perfectly, and would have his legacy fully realized while wearing green and white.

One final name I’d like to throw out there for the Celtics to acquire is Atlanta Hawks center, Al Horford. Horford will be a free agent next offseason, and I think the Celtics should make a run for him if they cannot sign/trade for Howard or make a deal to grab Cousins. I’m certainly not saying the Celtics should just throw a max deal Horford’s way simply because he fits a need and the cap for the franchise rises. He is 30-years-old and has a lot of miles on his legs.

Still, the numbers look solid with what he’s done for his career (averaging 14 points and nine rebounds). His best season was back in 2012-13 when he averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds. He has a soft shooting touch but is a beast down low. He could quickly erase any rebounding issue that the Celtics have. Not to mention he’s better all-around than any center the Celtics currently have on their roster. You cannot name a single forward the Celtics have that you’d rather have over Horford (if a fan names anyone they are only fooling themselves). I’d trade any of Boston’s forwards for Horford, which is why I consider him a top target for the Celtics next offseason.

There are certainly a lot of moves that the Celtics can make as the season progresses. Danny Ainge should only make a move when a deal is too good to be true (no four draft picks for one player, please). But since there are some viable options in the free agent market, the Celtics shouldn’t feel pressured to make a trade. The team can afford to wait until a great deal comes to them (as supposed to them running to find a dance partner). This team has to be smart when it comes to this rebuild, and can’t make a move that jeopardizes the team’s future.

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*All statistics courtesy of

C.J Maffris is a writer for He wants to believe that the Celtics can construct a win-win trade involving either Howard or Cousins but knows that isn’t possible. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @SeaJayMaffris