Could David Stern have planned this out any better? I mean seriously either he is writing the Dwight Howard saga as a three book series (coming soon to a theater near you) or the NBA is just that fortunate to have one of the most entertaining finals in recent memory feed right into the draft and then right into the messy yet beautiful chaos this offseason has been so far.
Come on Stern, give me your secrets, I’ll fly right out to Hollywood with the script for the Indecision already written, you would just have to find a way to get Jim Gray on board as the narrator and BOOM! Millions!
That number also represents the amount of people that Dwight Howard has teased during this ridiculously long drawn out process that began at the beginning of December. There are millions of smart fans out there using the power of the internet to try and figure out how their team could be victorious in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes. Hell I know I’ve ran the numbers with the 76ers numerous times by now (you’ll see my theory later on in this column).
While this saga might not seem as damaging PR wise as The Decision was, keep in mind all of the narratives that have played out over the last year.
December 10th: And we’re off! Dwight officially requests a trade to New Jersey Nets.
December 15th: This was the day that the Magic pulled Dwight off of the trade market, which was actually just the first step in crippling the fan base of Orlando’s hopes of not finding Howard jerseys on sale for 20 bucks only they didn’t know it yet.
December 25th: One of the main story lines coming into the season was where will D12 land? What will it take for the Magic to give up their second best player in franchise history? Will they even trade him or will Otis Smith just hold onto him until the end of the season and see where it goes from there? Will Dwight and Stan Van Gundy co exist? At least we got an answer to that last one (skip down to April 5th if you can’t resist).
January 16th: Dwight adds the Clippers to his growing list of teams that includes the Nets, Mavericks, and Lakers. Clippers fans don’t know what to do. I’m pretty sure they would go into battle for Blake Griffin, but they can’t help but think to themselves, D12 and CP3 before passing out due to intoxication.
Feburary 26th: Dwight starts in the All-Star game in Orlando for the East, while Andrew Bynum starts for the West. That would be a moment that NBATV could run for days if Dwight is indeed traded to the Lakers.
February 29th: Sorry Bill Simmons I have to do this. Good God Almightily! That’s Golden State’s music! Haven’t they been put through enough! (This was the day GS officially entered trade talks for Howard and the Monta Ellis for Dwight rumors began.)
March 1st: The Magic ask Dwight if he wants to remain a Magic or not.
March 14th: This is the beginning of the end of Chris Broussard’s 3rd phone of the year as he is constantly reporting on the rumors of a D12 trade. Meanwhile he actually suits up against the Spurs leading every Orlando fan to believe that he’s staying! Otis did it!
March 15th: The trade deadline passes while every Magic fan has flashbacks to 1996 when Shaq left the franchise after Penny Hardaway made the I’m the leader of this team statement. Hardaway also believed that Shaq shouldn’t make more money than him…
How’d that work out for ya Penny?
The day passes with no trade and Chris Broussard’s head explodes with confusion while Magic sits and smiles the entire time.
Bonus March 15th: It’s reported that Dwight has decided to re up for one more season in Orlando leading everyone to believe that he was influenced by the reaction of the mass public on various social media outlets. It was a panic move by a person who doesn’t want to dare step foot into the villain territory of Lebron, little did he know then that he would be creating a more volatile situation than Lebron could have ever dreamed of.
March 28th: The Magic are destroyed by the Knicks at the Garden 108-86. Howard had more turnovers (6) than rebounds (5) and played just 28:17, meanwhile Jeff Van Gundy killed Dwight for at least 35:43 of the broadcast.
April 5th: The impromptu press conference heard round the internet takes place.
April 20th: It’s announced that Dwight will have back surgery to fix a herniated disk, knocking him out of the rest of the regular season and off of the Olympic team. This happens with Orlando still in playoff contention.
April 21st: Glen Davis has another monster game going for 17/13. I repeatedly bang my head against my desk for not picking him up for championship week of my fantasy basketball league. Side rant: Thank you Nate Robinson for not playing the five games of the season after dropping 30 against the Spurs on the first day of championship week, you KILLED my chance to win my second title in four years.
Playoffs and beyond: The Dwight saga is only a mild story during the playoffs as the focus is on the actual play, because you know Lebron is still the main draw of the league. Once the Finals end and the dust clears from the celebration in Miami the focus of the media turns its ugly head to the city of Orlando, which leads us to where we are now.
What a mess and amazingly there still isn’t a true front runner to land Howard, just like there didn’t appear to be a true front runner to land LBJ back in the summer of ‘10.
That summer it was fun to play the speculation game of where will Lebron go, it’s not fun to play the same game with Dwight this time around.
James was able to have The Decision because he came into the league right as the information age blew up faster than Goldberg’s push in WCW. He has/is/will be the focus of the early part of the social media age until he retires from the league. In an accidental way we created that god awful hour and a half of television because we as fans couldn’t resist throwing our opinions into the ring of fire. Lebron’s decision was the worst self created PR move by an athlete ever because it resonated something inside people who didn’t care about basketball at that point. It made people hate Lebron that never hated Lebron before because they never cared enough to have that emotion creep into their body.
This Dwight Howard situation will not reach those types of levels. There won’t be new fans that flock to the sport just to root against Howard because Lebron is a once in a generation type of personality in that sense. But for the people who follow the sport religiously this absurd situation has the ability to turn people off from the league up until opening night in October.
In the end at least Lebron made a definitive decision. Even if it was one that crushed a city that had his back through thick or thin, at the end of the day he moved on and gave the casual fan a reason to watch the sport. This Indecision that Dwight has created is just a tiresome, boring, unnecessary exercise.
At the end of the day it’s just another highly paid athlete complaining about where he is. It’s like receiving an Xbox as a gift and then three months later complaining that you should have gotten a PS3. Make the best out of what you have or trade it in and get what you really want, just don’t complain and be indecisive. You have to be strong with your decision because in the end you’ll get what you really wanted.
That’s Dwight’s problem, he couldn’t decide what he wanted when he had the chance to move and now he’s on a mission to single handily break a twitter record for the highest amount of tweets about a trade that don’t actually feature a trade. He’s put the Magic in an absurdly difficult spot, you could even make the argument that by the end of this ordeal they will be in worse shape than the post-Lebron Cavs were.
Here are the possible landing spots for Dwight:
Brooklyn – Trading Howard to the Nets would be a bigger mess for Orlando than the cleanup was of Ted’s stuffing was for Mark Whalberg. It’s been proposed by numerous sources that the Magic would receive some combination of Brook Lopez/Gerald Wallace/Kris Humphries/Marshon Brooks/first round picks in 2013, 2015, and 2017 for Dwight. Keep in mind that those picks are likely to be in at least the mid 20s because with the trio of Howard/Joe Johnson/and Deron Williams, the Nets quickly become a huge threat to the Heat’s future reign of the East. Either Hedo Turkalou or Jason Richardson would be thrown into the deal to make the trade possible.
The Magic would then roll out this roster for opening day next year:
C: Brook Lopez
PF: Glen Davis/Ryan Anderson
SF: Gerald Wallace
SG: J.J Redick
PG: Chris Duhon
Yikes! That lineup reeks of the lottery for years to come.
Los Angeles – My personal favorite to land Howard up until I read this from Mike Brenashan of the L.A. Times. Mike points out that the Lakers don’t have any interest in trading Bynum for Howard because there is a cloud of uncertainty surrounding a contract extension. Jerry Buss isn’t going to trade away what could very well be the future of his offense to Orlando for one last serious run at a championship with Kobiashi.
Same goes for Orlando. Bynum is the best player that they are going to receive from any team in the league, but there is no reason to trade for him if there is no guarantee that he will be in a Magic uniform after next season. Spin the roulette wheel on this one.
Houston – I believe the Rockets are the dark horse to land Howard for a couple reasons:
1.) GM Daryl Morey is fine with renting Howard for a season. Perhaps he believes that Danny Ainge can talk enough sense into Howard that it makes the big man wonder if he would be better off just staying in Houston. Even though the talent around him would be just as bad as it was in Orlando if not worse.
2.) The Magic would be getting a young potential star in Kyle Lowry. With the emphasis on having a floor general at a premium Orlando could start the post Dwight Howard phase with a top 12 point guard (according to John Hollinger’s player efficiency rating) who has shown flashes of brilliance in his six year career. Unlike Bynum, the chance of resigning Lowry is really good.
Besides Lowry the Magic are going to get a hodge-podge of players that could include Kevin Martin/Luis Scola/and a bunch of picks a la the Nets. Lowry/Scola and three first round picks for D12 looks a lot better on paper than a player coming off of a serious ankle injury that wrecked his season last year (Lopez), MarShon Brooks, Mr. Kim Kardashian, three mid-high picks in the 20s, and… MarShon Brooks.
Just ask Cleveland how much it helps to get a very good point guard after you lose your star.
3.) Say Houston lands Howard for Lowry and a bunch of other pieces. Goran Dragic is going to take the money and run somewhere (according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, PHX is going to offer him $8-$9 mil a year). So who should they going to get to run the point…
Daryl Morey has stated on twitter that it was a mistake to cut Lin. It makes perfect sense that he would blow away any offer sheet that the Knicks would pony up. It’s just like buying a ridiculous gift for an ex girlfriend to try and win her back, you’re going to overpay for it.
Houston would be a good change of scenery for Lin because he is the oil to Carmelo’s water. Knicks fans can’t take another year of Melo pouting in the corner while Lin runs the offense.
It makes so much sense that it probably won’t happen but that won’t stop me from dreaming about what could be one of the best tandems in NBA Jam On Fire.
Dallas – At the beginning of the season I told my friend Jeff to book the flight for Dwight and Deron Williams to Dallas. It made so much sense then that I should have known something would get in the way. I just don’t see how Dallas can must anything up in a trade that makes Orlando say we’ll take it! It’s a tossup between Vince Carter and Shawn Marion as to who would be the green chipper in the deal. That deal is an ew at best.
It’s a shame too, a Dirk/Howard/Williams trio would have really given us the second coming of Bird vs. Magic, but hey Durant Vs. Lebron is a nice consolation prize.
Philadelphia – Alright hear me out as I’m probably going to come off as a delusional human being who is oozing Philadelphia fandom. At least consider this trade as I think it’s better than any other team can offer them besides Bynum:
Jrue Holiday/a sign and trade of Spencer Hawes/Thaddeus Young/two first round picks for Howard and Jason Richardson.
Orlando gets a 24 year old versatile seven footer, a 22 year old rising star at point guard and 24 year old high energy guy who could very well be a sixth man of the year down the road. Yes it would be a lot to give up, but players like Howard only come along once in a generation.
First of all he’s the biggest physical specimen since Wilt Chamberlin. He actually wants to play defense (a rare quality nowadays), the best rebounder in the league, and is just touching the surface of his offensive ability. Philadelphia is a huge sports market that would welcome him with open arms.
There would be a gaping hole a point guard which could be filled by… Steve Nash! When Nash has to sit on the bench to rest have Evan Turner run the point. Turner has been miscast as a successor to Iguodala, when in actuality he is a 6’7” point guard who has the ability to drive the lane.
Amnesty Elton Brand’s $18 million next season and resign Lou Williams to a similar contract to Thaddeus Young and suddenly you have a serious contender. Here’s what Philly’s lineup would look like:
PF – Lavoy Allen
SF- Andre Iguodala
SG – Lou Williams/Evan Turner
PG – Steve Nash
Bench: Vucevic, Arnett Moultrie, Mo Harkless, Jason Richardson, either Lou Williams or Evan Turner depending on who starts.
I have to stop thinking about this right now otherwise I’ll get pissed off when Nash takes Gretzky’s advice and signs with Toronto and Howard ends up in Houston.
Look no one, not even Dwight knows where he is going to end up and that’s what makes this saga have even more legs than The Decision did. Say Dwight gets traded to Houston and doesn’t resign there; he becomes the best free agent of the 2013 class. It would be unprecedented, but it would also be exactly what Dwight wants, which has been the memo for seven months.
Follow me on twitter @scottdargis.