Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 3/9/12
For the first quarter, Bulls fans had to be salivating, and then dreaming. Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose. Same team. Imagine. Howard was scoring all the points and getting all the rebounds. And Orlando was blowing out the Bulls. Then Howard sat down for a rest, and who knows where his mind went. His dominance. His force. He produced massive numbers in the Magic's 99-94 win over the Bulls on Thursday night. And one week before the NBA trade deadline, that's only going to spark even more talk about Howard as Superman. One question: Is it possible to have a quiet 29 points and 18 rebounds? Probably not, but Howard goes down as the potential big prize in this trading season, and the truth is this: He's a great talent and an excellent player. But he doesn't play like a guy who's dying to win. And he's not The Answer. Look, Howard is the one who said he wants to be traded. He's the one whose short list is the Lakers, the Mavericks and the Nets. It has been the talk around the Magic all season, distracting them. Before Thursday's game, Howard told reporters he wanted to be That Guy. "I don't think there's a player in the NBA that wants to be a nobody," he said. "Everybody wants to be that guy to take the last shot, or be the guy that everybody is leaning on, for whatever reason. I don't think there's any problem wanting to be that guy." He also has said over and over that he just wants to win. The truth is, Howard has no idea what he wants. He's like a little kid, dreaming big. Everything looks good, as long as everyone likes him. There is nothing wrong with that. It just doesn't sound like the focus of a leader or a champion. Howard can be a secondary player with super talent on a great team. But that's not what he says he wants. Look at what he said. He wants to be That Guy? Does he think that's going to happen on the Lakers? Last seconds, big play, and Kobe Bryant is going to pass to Dwight Howard? No. Will he be That Guy in Dallas? No. It's weak, anyway, to want to set up your superstardom by going to someone else's team. So it doesn't seem that that's what Howard is really after. And if he just wants to win, then why is he including the Nets in that bunch? No, off-court marketing is a big deal to Howard. As the Nets move to Brooklyn, it will be an off-court deal for a star like Howard. Again, fine. Go for the money if you want, Dwight. Go for the love. I'm not knocking money. But under the weird NBA rules, the Magic actually will be able to give him 30 million more than any other team in a new contract through free agency. "We just have to keep playing like this, night in and night out," Howard said after the game, "and we'll have a good chance at contending for a championship at the end of the season." Let's go over this again: Howard thinks he can win in Orlando. And he's The Man in Orlando. And he'll get more money in Orlando. So why does he want to leave? If the Magic are going to trade him, they've got a week to do it. Otherwise, he'll be a free agent at the end of the season, and then Orlando could be stuck getting nothing for something big. The best bet is that Howard won't be traded at all. If he is traded, he'll likely go to the Lakers. But the Lakers would have to be willing to give up Andrew Bynum, the favored project of owner Jerry Buss. The Mavs and Nets don't have anything to give up in a trade now. Most likely, they will come after Howard in the offseason, and he'll sign with Dallas. The Mavs also will have enough money under the salary cap to get Deron Williams. Howard has been part of the talk in Chicago, too. Bulls fans are worried that they still can't beat Miami. Someone asked him if he could envision living in Chicago. "No," he said. "It's pretty cold here." So add that to the list: Warm weather. Like the weather in, um, Orlando? In Howard and Rose, the Bulls would have the best point guard and best center at the same time. But they figure to have to break up a young team to do it. That means, most analysts figure, giving up Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and maybe Taj Gibson, too. That's too much for a guy who doesn't know what he's after. Rose knows what he wants: Championships. Would Rose like to play with Howard? "It's definitely getting old where I'm sick and tired of hearing it," Rose said. "Like I've said, this city speaks for itself. Chicago, marketing-wise, is a great city. If someone chooses to come here, they definitely could, but I'm cool with the teammates that I have." That's how a quiet, nice guy says, "If Dwight Howard doesn't want to play here, then screw him. I'm not begging. I'm not recruiting." That doesn't mean the Bulls couldn't use help. Someone has to be able to score when LeBron is sitting on Rose. That's why the Bulls got Rip Hamilton, who seems to get hurt when someone looks at him hard. Kyle Korver has God's gift, as Rose put it, on making 3-pointers. He was 1-of-7 Thursday. Rose couldn't shoot, either. And the most shocking stat of the night? Deng, the All-Star, played 39 minutes. It looked more like 2 or 3. The game will only re-enforce the idea that the Bulls aren't quite there and that Howard is the gold standard. But it was just one bad game. One more week of a league focused on Dwight Howard. Who know's what he'll want next.
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