Whenever I type “Dwight Howard,” I can feel it getting relayed to you in the form of endless questions about the “distractions” facing Dwight and his teammates.
I can see you doing a full eye-roll complete with backward head tilt.
I can hear you from here:
“Would it be possible for us squeeze in our season between rumors about something that may not happen and if it does, won’t happen for months?”
I’ve been on the beat. I understand the urgency of now, with the past gone, the future yet to be and today all we have.
Nevertheless, here’s the bottom line: You can’t get Dwight to extend, or even say if he’ll stay.
I can’t make his decision unimportant.
Half the league is trying to get into the D-Derby, for the package deal of Dwight and Deron Williams, with enough BS in the press to sink a freighter.
Now, to see if I can surmount the usual BS….
It’ll go one of two ways: If I’m wrong, I’ll say so in print.
If I’m right, here’s where we are in this most bizarre of bazaars:
D12 and DWill have already gone through Plans A, B, and C, with the Nets losing cachet as The Place We Can Team Up Right now and the usual suspects—Lakers, Knicks, Heat, Clippers—capped out.
Now for Plan D, as in D12 and DWill in Dallas.
The Mavericks have a lavish operation, a player-friendly owner and almost enough cap space almost in hand.
Both D’s are OK with the Mavs.
A Third D, Dan Fegan, Howard’s agent, is all but joined at the hip with Mark Cuban and Coach Rick Carlisle.
Cap space, which the Mavs can create with a lot of moves, drives everything.
If the Knicks hadn’t misplaced their max slot, the Hornets would have had to take Amare Stoudemire for Chris Paul, knowing CP3 would sign there next summer.
Actually, the Knicks’ slot was trimmed when the cap was frozen at last seasons’s number… after losing the ability to cut a $3 million player or two, trading four of them for Carmelo Anthony.
As it was, they offered Amare, were turned down and that was that.
The Nets started as the lone major market team with the room to sign both Ds next summer, prompting Howard to tell the Magic to trade him there.
Unfortunately, if Magic GM Otis Smith knew where this was headed, the big decisions are made in Michigan.
The DeVos family held to the plan: Have a good season, make the All-Star Game in our new building a Dwight pageant, win his heart.
With the lockout over, the Nets had to take the floor, Brook Lopez went down and there went any thought of making a run in the playoffs with them.
Meanwhile in Dallas, home of the defending champions….
Actually, this isn’t one of your Alamo-type defenses with Cuban letting Tyson Chandler, Caron Butler and J.J. Barea walk.
With starters who are 38-33-33-32-28, they’re No. 8 in the West, not that Cuban is sweating it.
If dealing with him is like being in a phone booth with a bobcat, he has learned a lot since coming into the league knowing everything.
After sucking up like $75 million in losses after their 2007 first-round pratfall… the only reason they were around to make last spring’s miracle run.., Cuban finds, or has placed, himself in position to get Howard and Williams by melting down the rest of his team.
If it will take a lot, I would say it’s Cuban as opposed to Herculean.
Trade Lamar Odom.
No problem. He’s 6-10, has one year left at $8.9 million (only $2 mill guaranteed!) and plays four positions, or did until recently.
Amnesty Brendan Haywood.
Deal or pay off Vince Carter, who has only a $2 million guarantee next season.
Find a taker for Shawn Marion.
This isn’t a lock with two years worth $17 mill left on his deal, but it might be doable.
(By the way, Marion’s agent is Fegan.)
Cut Roddy Beaubois and find a taker for Dominique Jones (no problem at $1.3 mill).
Renounce upcoming free agents Jason Terry, Jason Kidd and any other Jasons cluttering up their cap.
Bingo, they’re $30-32 million under the cap!
Get D12 and DWill to split it.
There are things megastars won’t do, like go to small cold-weather markets, or wait a year as 0pposed to trying to make something happen now.
One thing they will do—or, at least, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh did—is give up a few (million) bucks.
Wade took $3 million less than the max.
James was ready to take five-year deals, before Cleveland agreed to a sign-and-trade that gave him a sixth year.
As for the other contenders:
Nets—Could get back in it, if Dallas can’t get it done.
Clippers—As Chris Sheridan has reported, they’re moving up on Dwight’s list. Aside from that, it’s no go. No cap room, few tradable pieces left–and no expectation among team officials of becoming a player in this.
Lakers—Still No. 3 on the D-list after Dallas and New Jersey.
Even if Laker fans are salivating over Howard, it’s not a perfect fit with two seven-footers who make center play the least of the team’s problems.
When Andrew Bynum is healthy, he’s productive… and Jim Buss, who dotes on him, may not want to trade him.
And If Drew goes down, Orlando will have no interest in him.
Of course, there’s the g-g-go-for-it special:
Convince D12 and DWill to come.
Offer Bynum to Orlando for Howard and Pau Gasol to New Jersey for Williams, the best offer either team will get.
With Kobe Bryant, the Lakes rule for another five years, or more.
I have to go now. My head is smoking.
We now return your computer to real life….