Are you ready for Episode Three of 'New York Knicks vs. Nerw Jersey Nets: Battle For A Superstar?' It is coming, whether you like it or not, and it features current Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard.
The hot speculation right now, of course, is Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers. That makes sense with the Lakers having just been eliminated from the playoffs, with Kobe Bryant getting older and with Andrew Bynum's thuggery in Game 4 having possibly punched his ticket out of Hollywood.
The Chicago Bulls already have MVP point guard Derrick Rose and there is a thought that the Bulls could be in great position to make a run at Howard. Plenty of other teams might also be in the running for Howard, who can be a free agent after the 2011-2012 season.
Of course, Howard is not too happy with the rampant speculation that he is on his way out of Orlando. It is out there, however, and when it heats up for real I would think the Knicks and Nets will be right in the middle of it.
Episode One of 'Battle For A Superstar,' featured, of course, LeBron James. Both teams were involved in the LeBron-a-thon -- at least in their own minds -- before he took his talents to South Beach.
Episode Two was, of course, the months-long back-and-forth tug-of-war over the services of Carmelo Anthony -- the consolation prize for the LeBron loser. The Knicks, as we know, were the winners in that one.
Let's look at why Howard makes sense for either the Knicks or Nets.
Howard to the Knicks because ...
Yes, the Knicks have Anthony and Amare Stoudemire. What they don't have is a truly dominating presence inside, both offensively and defensively. Howard is, quite obviously, the best big man in the game. He averaged 22.9 points, 14.1 rebounds and 2.4 blocks for Orlando in 2010-2011. He won his third straight NBA Defensive Player of the Year award. He is 25 years old and entering his prime.
Knicks Assistant GM Allan Houston recently said, "The biggest thing we need is rebounding and a down-low presence."
No one in the NBA right now provides those things better than Howard. A point guard like Chris Paul or Deron Williams to distribute the ball and run the Knicks' offense would be nice, but an unparalleled star like Howard in the middle would make the Knicks instant title contenders.
The Wall Street Journal speculates that, as they did prior to LeBron James becoming a free agent, the Knicks will spend this offseason trying to make sure they have the cap space to chase Howard or one of the other premier free agents who could be available following next season. That makes perfect sense -- especially if Howard is the primary target.
Howard to the Nets because ...
The Nets are, basically, re-launching their franchise when they move to Brooklyn in 2012-2013. They were not able to get Anthony away from the Denver Nuggets, but they did a deal with Utah for Williams. The star point guard can also be a free agents after next season, and the acquisition of another star player is pretty much the only way the Nets are going to convince Williams to play in Brooklyn.
No doubt the Nets, under the ownership of Mikhail Prokhorov, want to make a splash when they move to the Barclays Center. Keeping Williams and bringing in Howard would accomplish just that. It would also give the Nets into a pretty darn good basketball team. Add the 7-foot Brook Lopez to Howard and Williams and that is a quality Big Three right there.
A lot can happen between now and when Howard is scheduled to become a free agent after next season. He could decided to stay in Orlando, he could get traded, he decide he wants to play in LA or elsewhere. Episode Three, though, promises to be interesting.