Should the Boston Celtics Trade for Dwight Howard?


It is officially trade rumor season, with news trickling out that the Boston Celtics have inquired about Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard. He would be the rim protector that Boston has been seeking for a while now. Of course, this rumor has been met with some blow back from fans, who wonder if the 30-year-old can return to the dominating player that NBA fans saw when he was with the Orlando Magic. Otherwise, why would the Celtics give up valuable draft picks that could turn into even better prospects? We all know draft picks are foolproof, right? And who would the Celtics trade if the two sides are truly interested in swapping players and draft picks? Can Dwight Howard make the Celtics a better team?

Let’s examine how a deal involving Dwight Howard would work between Boston and Houston. The first step is to ensure that the contracts match up and allows the Celtics to keep their flexibility when dealing with the salary cap. Boston has a plethora of forwards, all with different types of contracts, although this could change soon, so where would Howard fit? Depending on who the Celtics give up in a trade the team has seven serviceable forwards, including D-League phenom Jordan Mickey.

However, it’s Howard’s contract that determines who the Celtics can deal since Howard is owed more than $22 million this season, but has an option at the end of the season. David Lee‘s contract is close, at $15 million, but another player, or two, would have to be added. Looking at all the Celtics contracts, there are a few people who could be added that would make the required money match. However, I certainly wouldn’t want to give up Jonas Jerebko or Evan Turner at the moment, although, that could change at any time with Turner. I did propose a trade that I could stomach (just involving players), involving Amir Johnson and David Lee. So there are some ways to make a deal between these two teams work financially.

For any Howard trade to occur, though, a Brooklyn Nets draft pick would most likely have to be involved. What gives the Celtics some leverage with Houston is that Howard would be a rental player, since he can opt-out of his contract this offseason. Boston would be reluctant to give up any of Brooklyn’s picks when they might not be able to keep Howard. So that could mitigate how many draft picks in total the Celtics would have to give up. In fact, maybe the Celtics wouldn’t have to give up either of the Nets’ picks to acquire Howard. I’ve heard others suggest offering the Dallas Mavericks’ pick, although I don’t think that’s enough for Howard.

If the price is right for the Celtics, why shouldn’t the Celtics make this move? If  the premium draft picks would be safe, wouldn’t this move make the Celtics a better team right now?

Well, maybe yes, maybe no. Once the Howard rumor first surfaced, many fans said their piece about Howard being a diva, and how they wouldn’t want him to influence the locker room. That he would prove to be a distraction and a poor role model for the young players. The biggest issue fans seem to have about trading for Dwight Howard is his reputation. It isn’t pretty, especially due to how he left Orlando. His negative relationship with Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers doesn’t change that perception with Celtics’ fans. Howard has been known to complain a lot when playing, which also may be why fans wouldn’t want him. Boston is known for eating their players alive, and Howard’s personality could be a horrible match.

Oct 28, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) is elbowed by Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 28, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) is elbowed by Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports /

For my two cents, I think Howard would be an exciting player to acquire this season, especially with how well the team is playing this year. I think that Brad Stevens can work with Howard, as he has been able to do with players like Turner, Jerebko, and Kelly Olynyk. He’s helped Isaiah Thomas blossom into an All-Star, and fans and observers have seen how much Avery Bradley has improved as a two-way player.

If Stevens were given Howard to try to help him play like he did before, it would reinforce how good of a coach he is, and that would help the Celtics reap the reward of a revitalized Howard. I can see how Howard could change the Celtics dynamic with his defense and transition game, adding his considerable athleticism. He’d be good at working the pick-and-roll with Thomas; that combination sounds lethal. Maybe it could help lure other free agents into Boston to join Howard and Thomas as well.

Next: The Boston Celtics Shouldn't Make a Trade

If Houston isn’t asking for the moon, the Celtics should roll the dice on a center who used to be the best defensive big man in the league. He’s been an MVP candidate and has been to an NBA Finals. I think adding him to the team could do wonders for the Celtics. He could be a terror in the paint, defensively and offensively. So why not try him out and let Stevens show his coaching chops? He could easily turn this trade into the domino that brings the Celtics back into title contention because I believe there is still enough talent left in Howard to make a difference.