Chris Paul, Dwight Howard Hoping To Team Up?

June 14 2013 at 9:39am CST By Luke Adams

The two top players available on this year's free agent market have interest in teaming up and playing together, according to ESPN.com's Chris Broussard. Broussard reports that Chris Paul and Dwight Howard have been "texting back and forth" to try to figure something out.

Considering first-year salaries in maximum contracts for Paul and Howard would combine to total $39MM+, there likely won't be many teams that would be able to accommodate both players, barring a significant discount on one or both. However, the Hawks may be able to clear the necessary room to make max offers to both players, while a handful of other teams, including the Rockets, could use sign-and-trades to make space.

According to Broussard, although Howard has previously been averse to the idea of playing in his hometown of Atlanta, he'd be open to considering it if it meant playing with Paul. However, Broussard adds that CP3 is unlikely to leave Los Angeles, making the Clippers the preferred destination for the two stars if they're to become teammates.

The Clippers could theoretically bring Howard aboard via a sign-and-trade, though it's hard to imagine the Lakers agreeing to such a deal with their Staples Center cohabitants, as Broussard writes. The same goes for the Clippers sending Paul to the Lakers, a task that would be even more difficult, given the Lakers' payroll situation. Teams acquiring a player in a sign-and-trade aren't permitted to surpass the tax apron (expected to be about $75.6MM) at any point after the deal — max contracts for CP3 and D12 would make it virtually impossible for the Lakers to get under that apron.

A deal that lands both players on the Clippers wouldn't be quite as challenging, but as Broussard notes, for the Lakers to seriously consider it, it would likely take an offer that includes Blake Griffin and perhaps Eric Bledsoe as well. A blockbuster trade like that between the two Los Angeles teams seems a bit outlandish to me, but if Howard was set on joining Paul with the Clippers, the Lakers certainly wouldn't find a better return than a Griffin/Bledsoe package.

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