Chris Paul, Dwight Howard want to team up, what teams could land them?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA’s free agent signing period cannot begin until the season is over. But that does not mean teams and players can’t begin jockeying for position as the Heat and Spurs duke it out for the NBA title.

The road to making a big splash in free agency this offseason begins and ends with guard Chris Paul and center Dwight Howard. According to sources, the team who eventually makes headlines in landing one may wind up blowing the league away in signing both big-time players.

The will-they-or-won’t-they saga of Howard’s final year in Orlando was put to rest when the Magic traded the 7-footer to the Lakers prior to the 2012 season. He was supposed to be the heir apparent to Kobe Bryant as the next Lake-show superstar and the cornerstone piece for the franchise for the next decade. Instead, the year will resoundingly be remembered as a bust.

Sharing the Staples Center was Chris Paul’s Clippers. Unlike Howard, the superstar guard elevated the downtrodden franchise to elite status. The Clips’ 56 wins were a franchise record, and the team is expected to pull out all of the stops to bring him back into the fold.

There are presumably three teams who could make the blockbuster deal of signing both Paul and Howard happen: the aforementioned Clippers, Houston Rockets and Atlanta Hawks.

The Clippers likely have enough fire power to bring Howard over to LA’s other team, however, it’s unlikely the Lakers would be able to sleep at night watching that deal go down.

Houston would like to bring in at least one of the players, if not both, but would need to open up additional cap space to be able to sign both to max contracts.

Last, but certainly not least, Atlanta would love to bring their home-town hero in Howard back and who better to facilitate his game than Paul? The one barrier to making that happen seems to be Paul’s dislike for the franchise passing on him in the 2005 NBA Draft. According to a source of ESPN’s Chris Broussard, “It would be very tough for him to go to Atlanta. He loved Atlanta when they should have drafted him in ’05 but not so much since then. But hey, everybody is an option at this point.”

At the end of the day, it may turn out to be too difficult of a situation for these guys to team up together, but if they do, you would immediately have to put that team among the top contenders for a title.

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