Tag: Dwight Howard
Shaq has been around long enough for us to know that he’s got a big mouth, and that he is not one to get shy about dealing with some of the controversial things he says. And now that he’s got a platform to go out and speak his mind, it comes not too much as a surprise that he would go on and take a couple blows at the guy who is now going to try to take his place with the LA Lakers. But before we go on with this, let’s stop for a moment and talk about the Howard trade.
For starters, just last week, Kobe Bryant went out to the press to insist that the Lakers are still his team. That he is not going to follow the Miami Heat’s style and try to mix it up a bit between their three biggest stars. Kobe understands very well that this is his legacy, this is were he has spent all of his professional career, and half of his life playing basketball. Sure enough the addition this summer of the talents of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard are going to give them a competitive edge: but he wants to be clear about one thing, this is his team.
But that’s not the end of the story. Kobe has been very emphatic about one issue. He wants to teach everything he knows to Howard. He wants the big post to be the heart and soul of this team when time comes and he steps down. Let’s face it, at 34-years-old Kobe knows quite well that he only has two or three years left in his legs. He wants to find a successor. And this is where Howard kicks in. The Lakers have had a tradition of relying on strong and powerful man. The list of a-list big-man in the Lakers includes the likes of George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and of course, Shaquille O’Neal. So on the one hand, O’Neal has been there and knows first hand what he’s talking about. On the other hand, it’s hard for him to be too objective about the issue.
Still that didn’t slow him down a bit when he went on to evaluate Howard’s play “We as players, we always watch people before us,” O’Neal said in the league’s official website last week. “When I came in, it was Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon, guys who played like true centers who played inside. What we have now are centers that are going to the European style, which is a lot of pick-and-roll. Dwight Howard, who’s a pick-and-roll player, some people say he’s the best center in the league, but me being an old-school center, I’m going to go with Brook (sic) Lopez and Andrew Bynum because they play with their back to the basket.”
Now, this is where Phil Jackson comes into the conversation. Jackson coached O’Neal from 1999-2004 and the pair won three straight NBA titles from 2000-02. It’s no secret that they hold a strong relationship off the court. So it should surprise nobody if he stands behind Shaq’s criticism. He’s got a point, said Jackson and one point of a radio interview. “Dwight’s learning the post game and I think he has improved over the last couple years with his left hand. It looks like he’s shooting the ball a lot better. He used to be a guy that you felt like you had to keep out of the lane. If you could do that, he was going to be limited in his scoring. Now he’s developing some of the offensive game.”
It took four teams, 11 other players, five draft picks and countless rounds of talks over many months, but the Lakers have finally got their big man: Dwight Howard was officially introduced as member of the LA Lakers. This certainly marks an end to what had been a very long and spiny relationship between the Orlando Magic and the best center in the NBA. The Orlando Magic have been working really hard on making big changes and a they will now face this season without their All-Star center and their previous head coach. It might take a while before the Magic becomes a serious threat to the dominance that the Miami Heat, the Boston Celtics or the New York Knicks have had in the East Coast, but on the long haul this might be a good move for everyone. Particularly for the LA Lakers, who have certainly uplifted their rooster for this upcoming season.
As of press time, it is still uncertain what the details of Howard contract with the Lakers look like. For a very long time one of the main reasons why the Lakers and other teams who wanted to bring Howard with them was the players reluctance to sign a long-term contract. Over and over again Howard had insisted that he would only stay around for good if he ended up with the Brooklyn Nets. But it was evident that the Nets door closed a little too early and it was now a matter of time before the Lakers and the Magic figure out a way to make the transfer work. Now, let’s go ahead and give it a try.
This is sort of the blueprint of how this 11-player transaction played out. For starters, the Lakers youngster Andrew Bynum was sent by the Lakers to the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers sent Andre Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets. Orlando got guard Arron Afflalo and forward Al Harrington from Denver and forward Moe Harkless and center Nikola Vucevic from Philadelphia and forward Josh McRoberts and guard Christian Eyenga from the Lakers. Now, evidently the Lakers got Dwight Howard, but in order to get things rolling they will also get guard Chris Duhon and forward Earl Clark from Orlando. Finally the Orlando Magic traded guard Jason Richardson to Philadelphia.
Now, that’s it in terms of players, but the transactions also included several other perks for the Orlando Magic. They will get a second-round draft pick from Denver next year, a first-round pick from either Denver or New York in 2014, a conditional first-round pick from Philadelphia and a conditional second-round pick from the Lakers in 2015, and a conditional first-round pick from the Lakers in 2017. Orlando also will have a $17.8 million trade exception to use over the next year. That should be enough to clear them plenty of space in the salary cap.
The big question is still whether Howards will sign a long term contract with the Lakers. “Right now, it’s about today and I’m here with the Lakers and that’s the only thing that matters,” Howard said in the press conference. “Whatever happens a year from now we’ll wait until that time. Right now, it’s all about the Lakers and me starting fresh. I’m happy to be here and that’s the only thing that matters now.”
It looks as if the LA Lakers have had enough already. They want to get another title while Kobe Bryant is still in the house and to do so they are going to take a couple of shortcuts. For starters, the Lakers are willing to let go of at least one of their two big man, either the Spaniard Pau Gasol or the young, talented but somewhat immature Andrew Bynum. This could give them enough space in the salary cap and enough pull into the negotiations to land Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic. Sure enough, Howard has been very vocal about his intentions to land in the Brooklyn Nets but considering they are basically out of the picture, it seems that Howard would either end up in the Houston Rockets or with the LA Lakers.
But in order to pull this one out, the Lakers are going to have to find an accomplice. They are already working their way into becoming the most versatile team in the West, trying to sign enough talent to actually make them competitive enough to outplay the younger and faster Oklahoma City Thunder and it’s starting trio, Kevin Durant, Russell Westrbook and James Harden. Now, their first big move was to bring in what many though was Kobe Bryant Nemesis: Steve Nash. Yep, the did it, nobody saw this one coming, but the Lakers landed one heck of a point guard to get Kobe Bryant rolling again.
Now, in order to pull this one out, the Lakers need to figure out what to do with Andrew Bynum. On the one hand, it is unclear whether the Orlando Magic would accept Andrew Bynum without assurances he’d sign a long-term extension. And it really looks as if Bynum is reluctant to commit to a team right now. Now, both the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Houston Rockets, both of whom are under the salary cap and rich in prospects and future draft picks, have engaged the Magic as potential third-team facilitators, but it seems now that the Cavaliers would team up with the Lakers to ultimately snatch Howard away from the Rockets and get him to play in Hollywood. Now, according to the information we’ve been able to gather, the transaction will play more or less as following.
The Cleveland Cavaliers would get the Lakers center Andrew Bynum for a package of draft picks and veteran power forward Anderson Varejao. Now, we have to be clear on this one, at no moment has there been any sign that Bynum would agree to stay there for the long haul, but still, this could be the only way for the Lakers to receive Howard for Bynum. Orlando would get Varejao and draft picks. Now, the big issue is that neither Howard nor Bynum are too keen of signing extensions just yet. Howard deprived himself of free agency earlier this season when he opted to leave the final year of his contract. It seems that he will try to avoid doing the same thing again with the Lakers or with any other team.
Do you really need a superstar to win the NBA Championship? Straight front answer, no, you don’t. And yet, if I do get a second chance to answer this one, I’ll just go ahead and say it: of course you do. In a league dominated by two players who hold down a very talented and prominent supporting cast, it is hard to believe that a small target team such as the Houston Rockets holds a chance unless they go out there and get themselves a big name. At the end of the day one has to realize that Kevin Durant with the Oklahoma City Thunder and LeBron James with the Miami Heat both have one heck of a supporting cast, and that seems to be the winning formula nowadays. Of course just last year it was the Dallas Mavericks who took the title with a combined effort, but then again, Dirk Nowitzki is as closed as you get to a star without really been a star.
So here is the tricky part: the Houston Rockets are willing to take huge risks to bring Dwigh Howard to play here. But to clear space and be able to make this offer something to which the Orlando Magic could be somewhat interested in, they have had to cut down on some talented players. According to the reports we’ve been able to recall, the Houston Rockets plan to release starting power forward Luis Scola. They will have to rely on the NBA’s amnesty clause to pull this one off. This is actually the third above-average starter that the Rockets have been willing to sacrifice in orter to absorb the contracts of Jason Richardson, Glen Davis and Chris Duhon, players who the Rockets would have to bring in from Orlando while also sending the magic a few first-round picks and some recently drafted players. Whtat is really going on is that the Rockets are willing to give the Magic a virtually clean slate in the payroll department so that the Magic can get their post-Howard rebuilding effort.
The tricky part here is that this is really not going to drastically change the situation for Dwight Howard. He believed that he needed a stronger team than the one he had in Orlando, but it seems at least from the start that all they he is really getting in case he goes over to Houston is a change of venues. That is unless the Rockets can really move things around with the players they will get and build up a little something new around Howard.
Now, this is just the beginning. Drogan Dragic, another taleted player in the rooster was traded to Phoenix as a free agent. It seems that in order to make space in the salary cap for Howard, the Rockets were unwilling to pay Dragic $34 million over four seasons. As if that was not enough, point guard Kyle Lowry, was sent to the Toronto Raptors for only a top lottery pick. The thing here is that this risk could all go terribly wrong. So far there has been no real interest shown by Howard and at the end, they could very well lose plenty of promising players for a star that might just not make it there at all.