Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard’s wish to play in Brooklyn will not be granted, with the All-Star looking ever more likely to be suiting up in a LA Lakers, Houston Rockets or Atlanta Hawks jersey in the 2012-13 NBA season. And there is still a slight possibility of him staying put for the time being.
Howard’s chance of playing with the Nets rested on the success of the blockbuster trade involving three to four teams, 14 players, multiple first round draft picks and $3 million – however it wasn’t to be when the Cleveland Cavillers pulled out.
So where will the Magic send the powerful yet unpredictable and outspoken big man to?
Let’s look at Houston first.
The Rockets come to the party from two fronts: on one side they can deal with Orlando direct, a move that would involve Howard going to Houston in exchange for draft picks and freeing up the Magic’s payroll. If Houston deals directly with Orlando, they will simply be renting Howard as he will be off after one season and what’s worse, they’ll be stuck with a bunch of bad contracts. The other option Houston has is in a three-way trade including LA. The Lakers, who just signed All-Star point guard Steve Nash, would likely send Andrew Bynum to Houston and gain Howard while Orlando receives picks and send bad contracts to the Rockets.
How about those Lakers?
A direct swap between Orlando and LA rests on the Lakers center signing an extension and then a trade. What the Magic doesn’t want to happen is Dwight 2.0 with Bynum. Despite Howard declaring he only wants to play in Brooklyn, I can’t see him walking away from a serious championship contender containing Kobe Bryant, Nash, Paul Gasol and everything that is LA.
That brings me to the Atlanta.
The Hawks are also in the running of attaining Howard next season, largely because they made a key transaction on June 25 – the signing of Danny Ferry as President of Basketball Operations and General Manager. Ferry, minutes after taking the reins of the clubs front office, made several moves and wiped almost $90 million off the payroll. He traded Marvin Williams to the Jazz and got guard Devin Harris in return. What remains is a number of talented players – Al Horford, Jeff Teague, Zaza Pachulia and Josh Smith. Horford and Smith both play parts in a potential trade. The former is a two-time NBA All-Star (2010 and 2011) that Orlando would be please to acquire while Smith played ball with Howard in high school and the two remain close friends. The two were also born in Atlanta, Georgia. It will be interesting to see if Ferry, now that Brooklyn has left the table, makes a push for Howard, then next season, at Chris Paul – that would create yet another ‘Big Three’ clubhouse in the league.
Howard brought all this on himself – he is the one who opted-in for one more season with the Magic. He’d be with the Nets right now if he hadn’t but that’s all in the past now.
I believe Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak will again make a big move on the chessboard, Kobe will speak with Howard about playing a role and there will be one more star in Hollywood. He will have the fame, he will get the big shoe deal and he will have a serious shot at a ring.
The message for Dwight is this: be more like Tim Duncan and less like, well your present self. Just play basketball, please – we’ve all had enough.