Howard, Paul, Hawks

While the Atlanta Hawks have the potential to be a very desirable destination for the top free agents, it seems very hard to imagine they’ll end up getting both Dwight Howard and Chris Paul this offseason, even if they are the only team with enough cap-space to sign them both without having to make any kind of adjustments.

Atlanta isn’t an NBA-town, despite having the potential, both economically and demographically, to be an excellent destination for the best players in the league, or at least be more in competition for them. Their arena is rarely full and years of not being successful, and never reaching past the conference semifinal in this incarnation has taken its toll.

So while Danny Ferry has a smart basketball mind and can probably do a little bit of convincing, the most likely scenario when it comes to Paul & Howard is that they both stay in Los Angeles. If they are going to play together next season, there’s the chance of Howard joining the Clippers on a sign & trade, but that’s about it.

There are the Houston Rockets, heavily courting both players and do have the possibility of getting both of them, but that involves giving up certain pieces, most likely Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin. Houston seems like a place both of them would like to play in, but at the moment, anything involving too many moving pieces seems like the least likely to happen, which also shoots down the chance of seeing Howard and Paul making a move to Dallas this summer.

Atlanta, on paper, if each team in this league had a fair shot of getting each player, would be talked about a lot more than it is. They have only $22 million committed to next season, which makes them able to give Howard and Paul maximum deals, or something very close to it, and put them together, like they’ve been discussing. But the NBA isn’t a fair league when free agency is concerned, which probably puts the Hawks, who aren’t likely to hold on to Josh Smith (another good friend of Howard’s), with a lot of spots to fill on their roster.