Dwight Howard trade rumors have become a regular occurrence in the league. Thus, as the NBA trade deadline approaches for the 2017-18 season, it’s not surprising that his name is coming up once again. The Charlotte Hornets could work hard to trade Howard and other key pieces in order to re-shape the long-term outlook for the franchise. A tough loss to the Miami Heat on Saturday night (January 20) makes that an even likelier scenario.
A new report by Kevin Pelton at ESPN presents some interesting trade scenarios for the Charlotte Hornets. One of them includes a trade of Dwight Howard to the Indiana Pacers as a way to save some money for the 2018-19 NBA season. The Pacers and several other teams are showing a lot of interest in All-Star guard Kemba Walker, so it might just be possible to create a package deal for future draft picks. Would the Pacers help out the Hornets in that fashion?
In regard to what these Dwight Howard trade rumors suggest could happen, the Indiana Pacers could deal Bajon Bogdanovic, Al Jefferson, and Darren Collison for Howard and Kemba Walker. The money would work for the current NBA season and then that new trio only has guaranteed salaries of $7.5 million for next year. As Pelton points out in his report, that’s $28.5 million less than what Howard and Walker will make during the 2018-19 NBA season.
The Hornets’ loss to the Heat marks their 14th straight in games decided by 3 points or less, the longest streak since the 3-point debuted in 1979-80. Kemba Walker scored 2 points in the 4th quarter. pic.twitter.com/KY5ou05PCg
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 21, 2018
If the Hornets are intent on breaking down the roster and shedding future salary, a trade with the Pacers might make a lot of sense. The risk is that they would be giving up Walker for a lesser package, but allowing the team more flexibility in the future. This also isn’t the only possible deal for Howard, as the Hornets just need to find a team willing to pay his salary next year. Howard earns $23.5 million this year and then roughly $23.8 million for the 2018-19 season.
Despite the obvious struggles of the Charlotte Hornets this season, Howard is putting up great numbers again. In 30.4 minutes a night, Howard is averaging 15.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game. His free throw percentage is still terrible (just 54.4 percent), but it’s possible he could really help out a team like the Portland Trail Blazers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers, or Boston Celtics if the price is right. If a team doesn’t have to give up much for him, there are a number of deals that could work.
If the Kemba Walker trade talks progress, with a number of teams expressing a lot of interest in the young guard, it’s possible that Charlotte asks a team to take on the contract of Howard in order to close the deal. As Pelton pointed out, that makes the Pacers a perfect trade partner, even though their 2018-19 first-round pick is losing value as they keep winning games. While a Dwight Howard trade might be difficult to pull off, the Charlotte Hornets have made it very clear that he is available on the market.