Now that Dwyane Wade is back in Miami and living his best life, it’s hard not to think about what other player-team reunions would warm the hearts of fans around the league.
There may be a lot of bad blood in the NBA, but if Wade and Pat Riley can hug it out and restore their friendship, surely other big names in basketball can set their egos aside for the greater good (or at the very least, the overwhelming sense of nostalgia).
In no particular order, here are the top reunions basketball fans both deserve and need.
Dwight Howard — Orlando Magic
After seeing Wade and Riley repair their relationship following a bitter breakup, there’s no reason to believe Howard couldn’t do the same with the Magic. The franchise that drafted Howard with the No. 1 pick in 2004 and won three straight division titles from 2007-2010 isn’t exactly contending for championships at the moment, but neither is Howard’s current team in Charlotte. The big man has been quietly averaging 15.6 points and 12.6 rebounds per game with the Hornets and has one year left on his current contract.
It’s a long shot for sure, but getting the Magic’s all-time leader in points, rebounds, minutes and blocks back to Orlando would be a welcomed sight. The fact that there has been a massive front office overhaul since Howard left central Florida in 2012 can’t hurt, either.
Luol Deng and Derrick Rose — Chicago Bulls
Deng is spending his days in Los Angeles working on his conditioning while the Lakers look for any way possible out of his horrific four-year, $72 million contract.
One of the teams that certainly won’t take him? The Bulls, with whom Deng broke onto the NBA scene and became a two-time all-star. Still it’s fun to dream. A more likely scenario — though admittedly not by much — is seeing hometown hero Derrick Rose return to Chicago.
If Rose were to rejoin the Bulls, it’d be hardly more that a second-chance at a proper ‘thank you’ from fans in Chicago. The former MVP is clearly winding down his days in what’s been a career that’s left fans with a bittersweet feeling. Rose was everything Chicago fans could’ve hoped for when they drafted him No. 1 overall out of Memphis in 2008, but his body just couldn’t hold up. Multiple knee injuries later, Rose was sent to the Knicks.
The move didn’t work for either side. Now with Chicago rebuilding and Rose a free agent, it’s time the Bulls bring him back and celebrate all he did for the city on and off the court.
This one seems like it’s only a matter of time given how much owner Jerry Reinsdorf values loyalty, though that depends on if Rose’s body can hold up until then.
Chris Paul — New Orleans Pelicans
Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and Chris Paul? Yes, please.
Whether or not Paul ends up winning that elusive ring with Houston, it’s not a bad idea to get him back to New Orleans. At 32 years old, Paul is still averaging 19.3 points, 8.3 assists and 5.6 rebounds per game and remains one of the top point guards in the league.
Now that Cousins is out for the rest of the year with an Achilles injury, and the Pelicans are in a bit of a free fall, NOLA might just be able to grab a lottery pick in the draft and come back even stronger next year. Adding Paul wouldn’t only make for a great reunion story, it’d help address one of the Pelicans’ biggest weaknesses at the moment and add another bonafide scoring threat.
Maybe Charlotte would even be nice enough to let the Pelicans have a throwback Hornets night to celebrate the occasion.
Vince Carter — Toronto Raptors
The Raptors reportedly thought about bringing back Vince Carter at the trade deadline, but obviously didn’t pull the trigger.
With Toronto sitting atop the Eastern Conference, there might not be anything that would make their fans more hyped up than seeing one of the most electric players in league history suit up for The North again.
If nothing else, just think about how amazing the Raptors’ intro video would be once they started reincorporating all of the Vinsanity clips back in. Would there even be a point to playing the game after that?
Carmelo Anthony — Denver Nuggets
A guy who loves hoodies and a mountainous city seems like a perfect match. Add in the fact that Carmelo started his career in Denver and there’s no reason this reunion shouldn’t happen.
OK, fine, there are numerous reasons this reunion shouldn’t happen.
The Nuggets are clinging to a playoff seed right now and don’t seem to be ready to make a leap to contender status anytime soon. That doesn’t mean Denver shouldn’t bring back Melo, but it doesn’t mean it should, either. After such an ugly split, there would be many fences to mend here.
Though, again, if Wade and Riley can do it, there’s a bit of hope we see Anthony rocking blue and gold one more time.
Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, James Harden — Oklahoma City Thunder
The longest of the long shots. The only way these three team up again in Oklahoma City is if Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones from Men In Black show up, hit them with a neuralizer and reset their memories to make the trio believe it’s still 2011.
Otherwise the best chance we have to see these guys reunite on the court for the Thunder is if the franchise decides to retire their jerseys at the same time.
And even then, it’s hard to imagine Westbrook and Durant celebrating their honors together.
But if LeBron can return to Cleveland and Kevin Garnett can win a championship, truly anything is possible.
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