NBA

Celtics should sign Dwight Howard – yes, that Dwight Howard

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It’s no secret that Dwight Howard is no closer to the overwhelming force than he used to be.

He is no longer one of the best defensive players in the NBA. More of a menacing lob threat. It’s not Superman anymore. Age was his kryptonite, and he’s nearing the end of a Hall of Fame career.

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With that in mind and keeping expectations low, he would be a great fit for the Celtics as a low-risk, medium-reward acquisition. As the roster stands, there is a lot of pressure on Al Horford and Robert Williams to register heavy minutes. They’re both capable of doing that when needed, but it’s best to rest them as much as possible in the regular season so they’re fresh for the playoffs.

Outside of Horford and Williams, the Celtics can look to Luke Kornet at 5, see what Mfiondu Kabengele has to offer, or go small with Grant Williams, Danilo Gallinari or even potentially Jayson Tatum at center. With all due respect to Luke Kornet, neither of these situations screams championship.

Kornet has decent touch around the rim, makes smart decisions and plays selflessly, but he’s a bit of a defensive liability and not necessarily a threat at the rim. Of course, it’s all rosy if Horford and Robert Williams stay healthy and don’t take on too much of a workload, but the Celtics can’t count on that.

They have three open spots on the roster. It would make sense to bring in a guard with an outside shot (Matt Ryan?), a forward also with range (Justin Jackson?) and a big backup. Now that the $17.1 million traded player exception has officially expired, it seems unlikely they’ll spend a significant amount on any of the three.

If only there was a player who didn’t need a lot of money, was looking for one more championship, and fulfilled one of those needs…oh wait a minute. There are.

Howard doesn’t have the same brilliance, but he would still thrive as a shot blocker and rim protector for the Celtics. He’s one of the best defensive players in NBA history, and even catching a shell of the player he was would be beneficial.

The Celtics, meanwhile, are the best defensive team in the NBA, and it makes sense to acquire a center that adds to that rather than hurts (see: DeMarcus Cousins). Howard may have lost a step, but he’s not totally washed. He averaged 6.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 0.6 blocks and 0.6 steals in just 16.2 minutes per game last year for the Lakers. His field goal percentage of 61.2 (mostly dunks) topped his career mark, and he even shot 53.3% from 3-point range and 65.8% from the line (not seriously , look at the).

He won’t win any shooting awards, but it shows he’s learned to adapt as he gets older. He’s also reliable in the pick-and-roll and could pair well with Malcolm Brogdon, Marcus Smart and Derrick White in that regard. Howard isn’t going to hit you in the paint anymore, but he’s found other clever ways to contribute to the win.

With the Celtics, it would be impossible for him to be an off-field distraction. You can’t just walk into a team with an elite culture extremely close to a title and blunder. He would blend in and contribute, like he did in 2020 when the Lakers won it all. People forget that Howard was instrumental in this race just two years ago.

Robert Williams already has Horford as a 1A mentor, but it never hurts to have a champion and future Hall of Famer. He may be a little weird, but he excels at the highest level.

Howard and Horford are both 36, and having each other nearby would only serve as motivation. They may not have coffee, but they’re two guys with a common goal. Do you think Horford would let Howard slack off? No chance. Or Ime Udoka? Certainly not.

So maybe you agree that the Celtics need a great skill set with Howard, but Howard isn’t the guy. Well, honestly, those are pretty slim picks at this point. Montrezl Harrell is facing a felony drug charge, so the Celtics probably wouldn’t take a chance. LaMarcus Aldridge is not a true center and is stranded. Cousins ​​is a defensive passive and even less predictable than Howard. Hassan Whiteside probably wants more of the role than he would get and is very inconsistent. Blake Griffin just isn’t the guy. The Tristan Thompson era doesn’t need a sequel. Neither did the Greg Monroe era, for different reasons.

There are other options, yes, but none of them are particularly intriguing. Get Howard for some depth on the court, play both him and Kornet as needed, and let him prove he still has something left. He doesn’t have to be Superman. He just needs to be Clark Kent.

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