Dwight Howard, Chris Paul determined to join forces?

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With NBA free agency set to kickoff July 1, the biggest names out there this offseason – Dwight Howard and Chris Paul – are crafting a plan of their own that would involve them playing together for a serious contender.

On Friday, ESPN.com’s Chris Broussard reported that Howard and Paul have been in contact with each other about possibly joining forces this offseason.

The ideal situation for Howard and Paul, according to Broussard's report, would be to play in Los Angeles for the Clippers. However, the Clippers are financially handicapped at the moment and would likely have to part with power forward Blake Griffin if they wanted Howard, which is very unlikely to happen, one NBA source said. Any deal the Clippers would make for Howard would have to be via sign-and-trade, ESPN.com reported.

In recent weeks, Paul became intrigued by a unique chance to play with his friend, Dwight Howard, and presented the idea to Howard multiple times, a person with knowledge of the discussions between the players said. The two All-Stars have always wanted to play with each other, but realistic opportunities never really arose.

Another obstacle, according to a league source, would be the fact that Howard and Paul would also want to play with Blake Griffin if they were to join forces on the Clippers and that option is just not very realistic, as the Clippers would be hard-pressed to manage that financially. Griffin remaining with the Clippers is not a deal-breaker, however, a source said.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers remain astonishingly confident that Dwight Howard will re-sign with them. The Lakers plan to make their pitch to Howard around the idea that he will be the future of the franchise, while obviously being able to play on one of the biggest stages in the NBA.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images/Sports IllustratedAnd the Houston Rockets, widely seen as the best suitors for Howard, are quietly waiting to throw everything they have at Howard in an attempt to lure him to Houston. The Rockets may be the most logical fit at this point in time, but of course, they do not have Chris Paul. And it is unclear how important it is that Howard be on the same team as Paul, but one source guessed that a Howard-Paul tandem is inevitable.

Then again, it is hard to imagine Howard not being satisfied with James Harden, who is a rising star. 

Then there are the Atlanta Hawks, who have the outright ability to sign both Howard and Paul in free agency. Howard has never really wanted to play in his hometown, but he has warmed to the idea over time, as his quest for an NBA championship continues, especially if it means teaming up with Paul.

At this point, Howard still has no idea as to what his future plans are, but people close to him insist that Howard wants to avoid the drama that consumed so much of the last NBA offseason. But with Howard and Paul continuing to plan to join forces, avoiding the drama may be rather impossible.

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily