SAN JOSE -- In a few days, this madness will surely be over. Dwight Howard will sign with the Houston Rockets. Or maybe he will return to the Los Angeles Lakers.

And the Warriors will have saved themselves from a potential Nightmare on Dwight Street.

No pulling punches here. It's still hard for me to fathom that the Golden State front office, which has made so many smart moves in the past two years, is seriously pursuing Howard at all. Granted, the man is 6-foot-11 and is built like a national monument. He has talent and charisma. He's won an Olympic gold medal and a bunch of playoff games. He is only 27 years old.

Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard, right, shoots as Golden State Warriors forward David Lee defends during the first half of their NBA basketball
Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard, right, shoots as Golden State Warriors forward David Lee defends during the first half of their NBA basketball game, Friday, Nov. 9, 2012, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

But for the Warriors, he would not be worth the sort of trouble he has caused elsewhere and is likely to cause again. Drafted out of high school, Howard has embraced immaturity with both arms. He left the Orlando Magic, his first NBA team, under a stink cloud after he asked the team to fire coach Stan Van Gundy in 2012, which the Magic did, and then Howard still demanded a trade.

When he was subsequently dealt to the Lakers before last season, Howard looked like an iPhone operating system on an Android device or vice versa, never quite meshing. Howard could never figure out how to execute a smooth pick-and-roll with point guard Steve Nash, if you can believe that. And there were reports of his grousing about Kobe Bryant shooting too much.


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In other words, there was all sorts of drama that the Warriors avoided last winter as they rounded themselves into shape as a scrappy playoff team under coach Mark Jackson. Do they really want such drama now? A few months ago, Warriors general manager Bob Myers was candid and forthright in a sit-down interview with me. Myers talked about having the right mix of personalities both on the court and in the locker room. Myers hinted that the big Warriors free-agent move might occur in the summer of 2014 after some salary-cap-albatross contracts expire.

I am not privy to any internal Warriors discussions. Let me emphasize that: Not. Privy. To. Anything. But I can't believe that Myers and Jackson would be as gung-ho about a possible Howard acquisition as would team co-owner Joe Lacob, a man who has never met a big splash he didn't want to turn into an even bigger splash, preferably with confetti, a laser light show and dancing polar bears.

And make no mistake, the signing of Howard would be a big splash. It would draw national attention to the Warriors every time they take the court. It would also be risking another trip into the hideous depths of the Warriors Big Man Curse.

Haven't Lacob or the other Warriors decision makers studied their own team's history? Ever since Nate Thurmond left the team in 1974, there has been a consistent theme through multiple ownerships and multiple coaches: the foolish pursuit of the "perfect" franchise center that will solve all problems. In every case, the moves have backfired. In some cases, they have set back franchise progress by five or more years:

  • In 1980, the curse led the Warriors to make possibly the worst trade in NBA history. They sent Robert Parish and a top draft choice (which eventually became Kevin McHale) to the Boston Celtics for the rights to pick Joe Barry Carroll with the first overall selection. After a promising start, Carroll established his reputation as "Joe Barely Cares" and drew scorn from fans.

  • In 1987, the curse inspired Golden State to trade Carroll and Eric "Sleepy" Floyd to Houston for 7-foot-4 Ralph Sampson. Sampson did squat for Golden State in two seasons and was traded to Sacramento.

  • In 1993, the curse provoked the Warriors into swinging a draft day deal for Chris Webber, the No. 1 overall pick. They saw him as their center for the next 10 or 15 seasons. But it turned out Webber didn't want to play center and hated coach Don Nelson. After his rookie season, Webber exercised a contract escape clause and forced a trade.

    Do the Warriors honestly want to challenge this curse again? I suppose it's possible. It's also possible they are staging some elaborate Kabuki theater -- pursuing Howard as a showy message that the team wants to be players in future potential big-name deals, with no real intention of ever truly consummating a Howard transaction.

    I hope that's the case. Warriors fans have endured so much. I understand their excitement and impatience to take the huge Howard leap, figuring that Jackson's immense people skills as a coach could make it all work. But has anyone considered that if Jackson has to spend extra time coddling Howard, then the coach will have less time to work on all the other stuff that made the Warriors so effective last season?

    Golden State can build itself into a true title contender by 2015 or 2016 with the correct decision-making. Visiting a conceivable Nightmare on Dwight Street would not be one of those correct decisions.

    Contact Mark Purdy at mpurdy@mercurynews.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/MercPurdy.