Just a few weeks into the season, there is no doubt that the Miami Heat appear to be the team to beat. They have bounced back well after losing in the finals last year to the Dallas Mavericks and have made adjustments that have made them the favorites early on this year. While things are going well for Miami in this early season, I still ask myself the big question: Will the "Big 3" all play out their contracts with Miami or will the team be broken up?
Some might think this is a dumb question to ask at this point for many reasons. The Heat did make it to the finals last year and even though they lost they were very close. Some might believe that a few slight adjustments and better complementary players like Shane Battier and Norris Cole might get them over the hump this year. This all may be true and the with the way Miami has started the season, it is hard to argue against that. So why consider breaking them up? One big reason for me is the availability of Dwight Howard.
It seems as though there is no chance Dwight Howard remains with Orlando past this season and I highly doubt Orlando will allow themselves to just let him walk via free agency. We have heard a ton of trade rumors already surrounding Howard and I think those will only heat up more as the season continues. I state this to point out the essence of time surrounding where Howard ends up. From the Miami Heat's perspective it seems as if there would be no reason for them to jump into the Dwight Howard sweepstakes at this point. However, they have to understand that if they are able to put together a deal (and they have the pieces) and they pass it up, they may never get an opportunity to acquire a player like Howard again. Now if the team goes on to win championships with the team they have, then I'm sure they will never give it a second thought. However, if their current "Big 3" do not end up winning some championships, then I think they would look back and regret not trying to acquire Howard. With that being said let's take a look at a potential deal in which the Heat could acquire Dwight Howard and evaluate how it helps the team.
Miami would send Chris Bosh, Mario Chalmers, Mike Miller, Joel Antony, a future draft pick and cash to Orlando.
Orlando would send Dwight Howard, Hedo Turkoglu, Chris Duhon to Miami.
First let me explain how this helps Orlando. The Magic would receive another star player in Chris Bosh while also adding nice complementary pieces in Chalmers, Miller and Anthony. They also get to rid themselves of their two least desirable contracts in Turkoglu and Duhon which helps them financially. A future draft pick could help them build even though Miami's pick will not be a high draft choice. But overall, from the Magic's perspective this deal should work for them as they will probably not get this kind of talent back in any other deal. The fact of the matter for Orlando is that they are probably not going to be able to retain Howard so they must get as much talent in return as possible. They will be put in a position, similar to the position the Denver Nuggets were in last year with Carmelo Anthony, where they are forced to take the best deal possible even if that means sending Howard to a team that they may not prefer to send him to.
For the Miami Heat, one might consider this a "stretch" and not worth doing. Allow me to explain. Dwight Howard is the most lethal post presence in the NBA on both ends of the floor. He finishes around the rim better than any other center in the league and has the athleticism to keep up with Wade and Lebron. They would also have a player that they could dump the ball in the post to and allow him to work. This would also create double teams that could free up Wade and Lebron even more (something Chris Bosh is unable to do as he is mostly a perimeter player). The Heat could then move Haslem back to the power forward spot where he could flourish next to Howard. He can hit those mid-range jumpers consistently and with Howard getting most of the attention from opposing defenses, he would see a ton of open looks. Miami could also ease the pain of losing Chalmers and Miller (who hasn't really adjusted well in Miami anyway) with rookie Norris Cole, who Miami has been very impressed with this year, Duhon, Battier, Turkoglu and James Jones. The Heat's starting lineup would be Cole, Wade, LeBron, Haslem, and Howard. The they could bring Turkoglu and Battier off the bench and both can play multiple positions. I think this definitely improves the Heat on offense, however, defensively it would make them maybe the best team ever. Howard is a perennial defensive player of the year candidate and has won the award three straight years. He would also give the Heat a boost in rebounding and shot blocking in the post (which are both deficiencies for the Heat) and if you team him up with James, Wade, and Battier; they would instantly become one of the best defensive teams that the NBA has ever showcased. I know it sounds cliche but we all know defense wins championships.
It would be tough for Miami to abandon the plan they have for their current "Big 3" because it is still just their second year together and they are playing well. However, with this move they would have a "Bigger 3" and one that I think would yield them those multiple championships that they promised the city of Miami.
There are also many hurdles to the deal as I'm sure the Magic would prefer not to make a deal with their cross state rival, especially knowing how dangerous the team they would be assisting them in establishing could be. However, they may not have a choice because if that deal was on the table and they had no better offers, how could they say no? Especially in this case where they would be receiving good talent in return.
This is obviously an idea that may never come to fruition, however, as I continue to think about it and evaluate the effects for both teams, it just seems like it makes more and more sense for both teams.