NBA Trade Rumors: Reasons Dwight Howard Could End Up on the Atlanta Hawks

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistAugust 8, 2012

Apr 24, 2011; Atlanta, GA, USA;    Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard (12) reacts to a play against the Atlanta Hawks in the second half of game four of the first round of the NBA playoffs at Philips Arena. The Hawks defeated the Magic 88-85. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-US PRESSWIRE

Although the Orlando Magic are no closer to actually trading Dwight Howard, the odds of certain teams landing him are constantly shifting simply as a result of the passage of time. 

Every day that passes brings him nearer to unrestricted free agency next summer, which would allow the Atlanta Hawks to heavily pursue him. 

As Alex Kennedy of HOOPSWORLD reports, they will do exactly that: 

The Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks have been mentioned as potential suitors for Dwight Howard in recent months, but there’s a dark horse to keep an eye on as this saga continues. If Howard becomes an unrestricted free agent next offseason, the Atlanta Hawks will aggressively pursue the six-time All-Star and try to lure the superstar center back to his hometown.

The Hawks may be a dark horse right now because they don't have the assets necessary to compete with the Nets, Lakers and Rockets during the trading portion of the Dwight saga, but they'll become strong contenders for his services if he remains uncommitted to a team beyond this upcoming season. 


Hometown Favorite

Dwight was born in Atlanta, and many of his family members still call the state of Georgia home. 

Because he was one of the No. 1 picks in the NBA draft to go prep-to-pro, the last team that he played for before going to the Orlando Magic was Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy, where he helped win the 2004 state title and was named the Naismith Prep Player of the Year, the Morgan Wooten High School Player of the Year, the Gatorade National Player of the Year and the McDonald's National High School Player of the Year. 

Dwight still spends some of his free time in Hotlanta, and might be persuaded to return home for the next chapter of his basketball career. 

He has plenty of great memories from his time spent in the city after all. It can't hurt to add a few more. 


Close Friends

Along the same lines, Dwight has a number of close friends already on the Hawks' roster, namely Josh Smith and Anthony Morrow. 

Smith and Howard knew each other as far back as preschool, and developed together as basketball players, competing in their youth and playing together during AAU ball. 

The Hawks' power forward, who once chose Howard as the best man at his wedding, had this to say about his friend in an interview with Kennedy

Who wouldn’t want a guy like that on your team? He’s the best big man in the league. I’d love to have him. Who wouldn’t? He’s the most dominant big in the game right now.

We do have a lot of money coming off the books, especially after this year. I don’t know what the plans are. I guess every team that’s unloading money, the media thinks they’re targeting Dwight.

Smith said that if Howard were to join the Hawks, it’d be the 'icing on the cake.'

Atlanta doesn't only have Smith to offer though, now that Anthony Morrow, a former Georgia Tech standout, has been brought aboard as a result of the trade that sent Joe Johnson to the Brooklyn Nets. 

Morrow is another close friend of Howard's, and could be the presence that pushes the Hawks' chances of acquiring Superman over the top.  


Danny Ferry's Roster Manipulation

As soon as Danny Ferry became the general manager of the Atlanta Hawks, he started to position the team to make some serious noise during the 2013 offseason. 

Now that the Hawks have dealt Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams, freeing themselves of both contracts, the team is in an incredible spot from a financial perspective. 

The only players on the roster with contracts that extend into the 2013-2014 season are Al Horford, Lou Williams, DeShawn Stevenson, John Jenkins and Jordan Williams. 

There's room not only to pursue D12, but also to make a run at Chris Paul as well. 

Between the max contract and the friends that Atlanta can offer, Howard might actually end up in an Atlanta uniform.