Report: Warriors looking to dump salary to improve chances with Dwight Howard

On the heels of reports that the Warriors are very much in the thick of the Dwight Howard race, a new report says the team is actively working to improve its chances of acquiring the big-name center.

Because the Warriors are vastly over the cap, the only way the team can land Howard is via a sign-and-trade with the Lakers. The only problem from the Warriors’ perspective is that a sign-and-trade complicates Howard’s path to joining the team. Why would the Lakers be complicit in a move that sends the center to a division rival? Plus, the Lakers would get luxury tax relief by letting Howard walk.

So, the Warriors are looking to get creative to circumvent a sign-and-trade. From ESPN:

Sources say that the Warriors, in an effort to manufacture some financial flexibility to help their chances, have begun calling teams with salary-cap space to try to entice them to take expiring contracts off their books so they can clear a $20 million hole for Howard.

Such a scenario would be challenging, some executives have said, but not impossible. The Warriors have three huge expiring contracts in Andrew Bogut ($14 million), Richard Jefferson ($11 million) and Andris Biedrins ($9 million). According to sources, they have tried to unload all three players this week to teams with cap room.

Just so we’re clear: the Warriors are reportedly willing to trade their incumbent starting center, Andrew Bogut, with ZERO guarantee they’ll be able to get Howard afterward.* (Mind you, they’re already without back-up center Festus Ezeli until around December.)

What’s more, teams likely aren’t going to be satisfied with just an expiring contract. They’re likely going to want more attractive pieces to sweeten the pot for taking on all that salary—attractive and young pieces like Harrison Barnes or Klay Thompson, either of whom would have likely been involved in a potential sign-and-trade with the Lakers to get Howard, regardless. So, no matter whom they’re dealing with, to acquire Dwight Howard, the Warriors likely would have to part with either of their two budding stars, which is evidently not what the Warriors are banking on, given Thompson and Barnes’ involvement in the team’s meeting with Howard this week.

Just so we’re clear, part deaux: if the Warriors are really that desperate, they’re going to have to part ways with Bogut AND either Barnes or Thompson, still with no guarantee they’ll end up with Howard.* They might as well try to twist the Lakers’ arm and work with them directly.

I don’t want to say the Warriors have a gambling problem, but the Warriors have a gambling problem.

*UPDATE: The incomparable Marcus Thompson points out that trades are only agreed upon right now, and the Warriors can easily cancel any agreed upon trades should Howard decide to pull any last-minute switch-a-roos and choose to play elsewhere. So, basically, it leaves the Warriors the opportunity to cover their own asses should something go awry.

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