Can the Sixers land Dwight Howard in Free Agency Next Year ?

If Orlando Magic Center Dwight Howard doesn't get traded and signs a long-term deal with the Lakers or the Nets this season, can the Sixers be an attractive place for Howard to come to next year ?

The way Doug Collins has started off this season with this team, it shows that his team has truly bought into him as a coach. I was listening to Doug Collins' interview with Dei Lynam from a couple weeks ago, Collins' coaching philosphy and relationship with players, and near the end of the interview he threw something in there:

Eventually, there is going to be some player out there, that is going to say, 'I want to go play in Philadelphia, they got a lot of good players,' and that's what we're trying to build. We know we're not a Championship team right now, but we're not going to make any sideways move to get us off our plan.

The interview is great in itself, but that statement at the end makes you think if they have something bigger in mind after this season. And next year is the last year that Brand is under contract for and Iguodala has a player option after next year for the 2013-2014 season. Salary wise, they can make it work, next year is the only year where they would have to pay Howard a substantially less because of all the other contracts, and after that Brand and his $18 mill. come off the books. Here's some more info on the salaries, luxury tax kicks in if you exceed $70 million.

It just seems that Howard would be a perfect fit for the way this team plays: unselfish, defense-oriented and hard-working. He would fit right in and would take this team to the Championship level. I know Howard is looking to team up with another All-Star or two to win his Championship, but if the Sixers continue their style of play and are successful the rest of the season then all of a sudden they might become a place where a player of Howard's caliber might want to come and play. It will all depend on how the team comes together and if it is successful this year. Successful meaning, continue their style of play and end the season in the top 4 in the Eastern Conference and at least get past the first round or two.

That could be enough for an All-Star like Howard to decide to come here. Teamed up with Brand, Iguodala, Young, Holiday, Turner, Williams and Vucevic under the tutelage of Doug Collins, that could be a dangerous team next year. We've all learned from the disaster that was the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles, that you can have supposed "All-Stars" playing together, but if they don't play as a team, then they're gonna fall flat on their face. The difference we see early on between how the Sixers are playing after the NBA lockout and how the Eagles played after their lockout, is one of togetherness and playing as a team. The Sixers didn't have many changes coming into this season and the Eagles had a ton, but even the Eagles came together near the end of the season and started to play as a team and became successful. So the key concept is playing together as a team, and Collins has his team playing like one and that can lead to great success.

They are not ready to win a Championship this year, as Collins realizes, but if they continue to compete and play as one throughout the season with the talent they have, then it might just open enough eyes to attract a big-name but unselfish All-Star to the team next year.

We can all at least hope !

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