Where will Dwight Howard take his All-Star talents for the 2012-2013 season?
While scrolling through my twitter timeline recently (follow me at @scashhomey) I came across the following tweet from @FauxJohnMadden:
“Latest Dwight Howard blockbuster deal involves 17 NBA teams, 5 NFL teams, 2 MLB teams & a Jonas Brother.”
I found this message to be hilarious. Although @FauxJohnMadden exaggerated the number of parties that have been rumored to be or actually will be involved in the Dwight Howard trade, he did provide a fairly accurate depiction of just how difficult this trade has been to make a reality.
Orlando is having a hard time finding a deal for Howard that they feel will be fair compensation. There’s a reason for that, fair compensation doesn’t exist for Howard. Dwight Howard is the second best player in the NBA. An argument can be made for Kevin Durant, feel free to comment below if you’d like to make that argument. In addition to where his skills rank in the league, Howard also plays a premium position that has been difficult to fill for many teams historically. Dwight Howard is the best center in the NBA (please don’t bother debating that fact below). Not only is he the best center, but the gap between him and the second best center is wider than the gap between the top two players at any other position.
Howard is a 26-year-old, 6’11, 255-pound athletic-freak with negative 8% body fat that can be counted on for 20 points and 15 rebounds per game on just an average night. In a league with exactly five true centers who are both tall and coordinated (Howard, Andrew Bynum, Roy Hibbert, Brook Lopez, and Tyson Chandler), a player as talented as Dwight is certainly a hot commodity.
Since entering the NBA, Howard has worked tirelessly to develop his offensive game. He isn’t a one trick pony whose only offensive move is catching and finishing alley-oop passes (Chandler). He also isn’t strictly a traditional back-to-the-basket post player who can only operate on the block offensively (Bynum). He is also not a big man that refuses to play big and insists on shooting long two point jump shots rather than banging with the big boys (Kevin Garnett). Dwight Howard is a combination of all of the good characteristics of the other centers in the league. He can run the pick and roll effectively, score effortlessly in the post, make a ten foot jumpshot consistently, and run the floor better than any center that the league has ever seen.
Combine his offensive prowess with the fact that he is also a three-time defensive player of the year, and you will see why he can hold a franchise hostage and be the biggest Diva in sports since Brett Favre retired. (Ed Werder having a live report on tomorrow’s Sportscenter from a Mississippi High School might be the only thing that could divert the attention of the sports world from Orlando right now.)
We know that Howard andhis inept team of advisors have handled this situation about as well as BP officials handled the explosion of their well in the Gulf of Mexico. It was Howard who stupidly opted into the final year of his contract at last season’s trade deadline in order to avoid being traded to the Brooklyn Nets, you know the team that he’s been wanting to join since last summer. Yeah, that whole situation is as stupid as it sounds.
However the NBA is a player’s league. It makes its money marketing the name on the back of the jersey instead of the one on the front. Therefore, players have all of the leverage in the NBA, and for that reason, they are kings.
That being said, shame on the Orlando Magic for not moving Howard at last season’s trade deadline. The whole world knew that Howard would not play for Orlando past last season, so why didn’t they? I’m not an NBA general manager or anything, but even I know if you have a player that professes his love for every city that you play a road game in during the season, he’s probably going to be leaving your team soon.
Trading him last season would have allowed them to avoid this bad soap opera and focus all of their attention this summer on signing reigning NBA champion Eddy Curry (he does have the championship pedigree that Dwight is lacking) to be Howard’s replacement in the middle and move on with their pursuit of a championship. So where will Dwight finally land?
According to reports he’ll be a member of the Houston Rockets within a week. Oh wait, the Lakers are about to acquire him. No, actually the Hawks’ new miracle worker Danny Ferry is putting together a package to bring him back home to Atlanta. Actually there were reports that the Mavericks, Clippers, and Bulls were also interested at one point. Word on the street is that the Pittsburgh Pisces have also put in a call to new Magic GM Rob Hennigan about a potential deal. The rumor mill has been on fire about this story, but the bottom line is that no one knows where Howard will end up playing this season.
My heart goes out to the fans of the Orlando Magic. You’ve had an incredible string of bad luck with your star players. As eluded to on twitter by @jrthebossman, both Shaq and Howard have chosen to leave simply because they didn’t want to share a town with the world’s most famous rodent. Penny Hardaway a.k.a.“Magic Johnson 2.0” couldn’t stay healthy. The summer of 2000, which was supposed to bring Tracy McGrady, Grant Hill, Tim Duncan, and a boatload of championships to the Magic Kingdom, netted you Tracy McGrady, a broken down Grant Hill, and 0 trips beyond the first round of the playoffs. The greatest power forward in the history of the NBA, Tim Duncan, decided to leave you at the altar in the 11th hour and returned to San Antonio.
And now you will lose the best center in the NBA for a package that will include several draft picks (that won’t be very high because the team that gets Howard certainly won’t be in the lottery), a couple of young and unproven players, and also some expiring contracts that won’t give you anything but cap relief following this season. If you’re lucky you will be able to get at least one big time player in the trade, but that player will simply hold the franchise hostage the moment that his contract is set to expire.
If the Magic are smart and want to move Howard for a package that will be beneficial for them going forward, they should only be talking to four teams. Those teams are the Lakers, Clippers, Bulls, and Hawks. Although Howard would more than likely have to agree to an extension with the acquiring team before they part with their valuable assets, these possible trade scenarios are worthy of being explored (if they haven’t been already):
The Lakers could offer Pau Gasol who, for reasons that I will never understand, they seem desperate to get rid of and Andrew Bynum. In that scenario the Lakers will get the player that everyone is hoping that Bynum can develop into, and Orlando will have a pair of All-Star big men to build around.
A package from the Clippers that includes Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and a first round pick should also be attractive to the Orlando brass. Griffin not only allows the Magic to replace star power with star power, but he is also a very good player that is just scratching the surface of what he will eventually become. DeAndre Jordan is a capable big man that is still developing, and the first round pick should be included just to make the Magic fans feel better after losing the best center in the game.
If we only consider basketball reasons, Dwight Howard should have been moved last season to the Chicago Bulls. Pairing him with Derrick Rose would be a basketball dream come true. The Bulls could send All-Star Luol Deng and rebounding machine Joakim Noah to Orlando in return. Howard’s ego (he wants to be the clear cut number one option on whatever team he ends up with), and Adidas’ marketing strategy (they don’t want their two biggest endorsers in the same market and wearing shoes with the same colorways) won’t let this happen, which is a shame because these two along with the shooters who would certainly flock to play with them could actually pose a serious threat to the dynasty that the Miami Heat are currently trying to build.
Then finally there’s my (and Dwight’s) hometown, Atlanta Hawks. A package of Al Horford, Jeff Teague and two first round draft picks should be extremely attractive to the Magic. In Horford they get a talented power forward (yeah, he’s playing out of position in Atlanta) who just may be the most dependable player in the entire NBA not named Tim Duncan. He isn’t flashy, he’s just effective. He always gives maximum effort and knows how to play the game the right way. The super-quick Teague is still playing on a cheap rookie contract and can make it possible for Orlando to trade Jameer Nelson, whose best days are behind him. The two first-round picks should be included to balance out the trade because we all know that neither Teague or Horford will ever be as good as Howard. Thanks to all of the cap room that has been created by the departure of Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams, Atlanta also has the ability to take of one the Magic’s bad contracts off their books. That’s right the Hawks will even take the one year wonder Hedo Turkoglu or Jason Richardson off of their hands as well.
I don’t know if one of these deals will be made, but I do know that Dwight Howard has burned every bridge in the city of Orlando and has easily become the most hated player in the history of the Orlando Magic. Magic fans should be upset. What he is doing to you is worse than what LeBron did to the people of Cleveland. LeBron knocked the people of Cleveland out with one quick and deadly punch, like Mike Tyson in his prime. Howard is taking the Floyd Mayweather approach to the people of Orlando. He is taking his time and slowly setting you up for the knockout with a constant barrage of punches that you can do nothing to defend yourself against. No matter the approach, the outcome will be the same. Like LeBron, Howard is definitely leaving town. And there is nothing that can be done to stop him.
Although he will forever be hated in Orlando, Dwight will be beloved in whatever city he eventually lands. They will forget about the endless stories of his every move and the over-reporting of every rumor that we have been inundated with. His new team won’t care about how he left Orlando, they will just be glad that he is one of theirs now. You know why? Because HE’S THAT DAMN GOOD! This situation may be annoying, but he is certainly worth all the fuss.
NOW FOR MY BALLER AND SCRUB OF THE WEEK:
Baller: Kyrie Irving– Let me start by saying that I HATE KOBE BRYANT! Now, I must applaud the reigning Rookie of the Year for not only his impressive performance while scrimmaging against the Olympic Team, but for also challenging the player that I love to hate to a one-on-one game.
This lead to one of the most entertaining exchanges of trash talk that I’ve seen in the post Jordan era. Irving is not afraid of Kobe and wants to be one of the young players to let him know that his better days are behind him and the end of his dominance is fast approaching. I love Irving’s confidence just as much as I hate Kobe Bryant. His play along with the fact that he isn’t backing down from Kobe definitely earns him Baller of the Week status.
In addition to the Baller of the Week award, I have one other thing to give Irving, a WARNING! I just want to be sure that young Kyrie knows that Kobe is going to light up the Cavs for a minimum of 50 points the first time they play next season, and it will be entirely his fault. However, that won’t happen until the winter, so Kyrie should just kick back and enjoy this honor for now.
Scrub: Philadelphia 76ers’ Front Office – If the front office of the 76ers feel that Kwame Brown is the answer, I really need to know what the question was. For some strange reason, the 76ers have signed Kwame Brown to a 2-year deal worth $6 million dollars. I know that is not earth shattering money by NBA standards, but it is $5,970,000 more than Kwame is actually worth.
I’m in no way knocking Brown or his stellar agent who has somehow managed to get NBA teams to pay him approximately $64 million (including the 76ers contract). They should be commended for taking advantage of Kwame’s one talent, being tall, and making him much richer than his basketball talent dictates. But I am knocking the 76ers organization, because they aren’t just a team taking a flyer on a tall player and hoping that they can tap into the talent that allegedly lies within him. They are a team whose coach has already coached Brown. There is no doubt that Doug Collins knows that Brown is a terrible basketball player and I find it hard to believe that this move was made with his endorsement.
By: Carlos Edwards (on twitter @scashhomey)
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