Heisler: D12, DWill Are Going … Nowhere

Counting down to… zip?

If some players may go every which way by the trade deadline, they’re not likely to include any Dwight Howards, Deron Williams or even Pau Gasols.

All three are, indeed, in play, but their destinations are a lot likelier to be revealed in June, no matter how much pure unadulterated BS you hear between now and March 15.

Hey, it’s better than waiting to see if Ric Bucher thinks the Lakers should trade Kobe Bryant, the Bulls should trade Derrick Rose, the United States should shop California and the Catholic Church should see what it can get for the Pope.

Actually, I count Buke among my friends in the biz, I respect his reporting ability, despite the occasional overreach, and I understand ESPN is on a crusade to remain relevant, at least on Twitter.

In the real, fact-based world of journalism… which essentially doesn’t exist any more… there’s always more we don’t know than we do.

Happily, it’s only sports, so we forget who got everything wrong as soon as it happens, no one gets hurt, except for their feelings, and we don’t invade any countries for stuff they don’t turn out to have.

Our lack of real knowledge, as opposed to anonymous tips from interested parties, is especially timely as this trade deadline approaches, with so many independent moving parts.

You may remember the 2010 outcome, which was a total surprise.

There was no hint that Dwyane Wade would almost bolt to Chicago, but he almost did.

Chris Bosh was thought to be a likelier partner with LeBron James than Wade, to whom he turned out to be tied to.

The last thing Bron or Wade were supposed to want was to join the same team.

Bron wasn’t going to leave Cleveland—but if he did, it had to be for the Bulls or Knicks.

That was with all three under a single agency umbrella with CAA–we learned later—keen to put them together somewhere (Chicago? Miami?) if each didn’t get exactly what he wanted.

In 2012, Howard, a maverick among superstars (which explains his Adidas hookup with most of the others at Nike) is represented by Dan Fegan.

Williams is represented by Jeff Schwartz.

Their teams, the Magic and Nets, have nominal control until their July 1 opt-outs, though less with every passing day.

Gasol is under contract for two more seasons, so the Lakers are firmly in charge of his fate.

The D Boyz’ preferred option is to go as a package deal, to New Jersey, which has the cap room, or Dallas, which may be able to get it.

What we don’t know is how united the D’s are now, or will be if things don’t go as planned, as they never have, and aren’t once more.

Howard has demonstrated his desire to join Williams in New Jersey—but that was based on his belief that the Magic would trade him there.

That wasn’t happening. Before Brook Lopez was hurt, the Magic was turning up its nose for better offers, like Andrew Bynum, asking for Gasol, too, with the Lakers taking Hedo Turkoglu’s contract.

Lopez has since returned for five games and gotten hurt again.

If the Lakers ever do offer Bynum or Gasol, or the Warriors, looking to rebuild or start over, offer Monta Ellis, David Lee and/or Steph Curry, a trade with the Nets might be Orlando’s least attractive option.

Of course, Howard can make it moot by signing with the Nets… if he’s really willing to take a $20 million haircut, with the new rules limiting him to four years at $72 million, instead of five at $90 mill if he’s traded before the deadline (or stays.)

Dwight’s people act as if he will, but what else would they say?

It’s not a stretch to imagine Orlando turning the Nets down–Sure, we get to see Dwight in a Net uni, greasing Lopez four times each season–so if Howard’s not really keen on a pricey haircut….

How about Dallas?

That’s tricky, too. Even if Mark Cuban is like blood brothers with Fegan, he has to trade, cut or amnesty everyone but Dirk Nowitzki to free up $32.5 million… assuming the D’s will take less than the max, as Miami’s Big Three did.

Of course, with sign-and-trades and 2010 rules, Wade, James and Bosh all got at least $98 million.

Without sign-and-trades in 2012, the D’s would be looking at $65-75 million.

Let’s say Cuban can only move enough guys to free $18 million…

Does Dwight jump into their one max slot to play with Dirk, Shawn, Roddy Beaubois and Dominique Jones?

What if Dwight won’t but DWill, a Dallas native, will?

If the D’s Don’t Do Dallas, can the Lakers get back in, offering Gasol or Bynum to Orlando for Dwight (who would need to declare his intent to opt-in)?

Or, how about offering Pau or Drew to the Nets for DWill (same caveat with the opt-in)?

The Lakers are now outside looking in, only a fallback position for Howard who sent word he wouldn’t commit to stay if they traded for him.

On the other hand, with two positions to upgrade, the Lakers’ best move is to keep one seven-footer (either will do) and trade the other for DWill.

For what it’s worth, DWill reportedly told Kobe Bryant he likes the idea of playing there.

If the best-laid plans of mice, men, generals, GMs and especially pundits rarely come to pass, this season has been one for the books.

If it wasn’t impossible to imagine Chris Paul being traded in December, it was hardly the way to bet.

Insiders expected David Stern to keep him in New Orleans until the NBA sold the franchise for that fat $340 million price tag (merely getting his owners out even after making them cough up $319 million to buy the Hornets, who then reportedly lost another $20 mill).

Unfortunately, Stern was busy with the labor deal, which must be why GM Dell Demps got the go-ahead to explore deals and wound up making one Stern had to spike—er, reject in his capacity as surrogate Hornet owner, not commissioner.

Unfortunately, with everyone in New Orleans up in arms at not getting something for Paul, Stern no longer had the luxury of keeping CP3 there if something good came in, like the Clippers offering Eric Gordon and Minnesota’s unprotected mouth-watering No. 1 pick.

Of course, if Gordon leads the Hornets in scoring at 21 a game, he has only played two games and the pick may not even wind up in the lottery, but how was Stern supposed to know?

In another surprise, the Knicks fell out of the process, learning they had misplaced one of the two max slots they saved so determinedly for three seasons in which they talked about little else.

Actually, the slot was trimmed by the $3 million the cap was supposed to go up before the new labor deal froze it, with the Knicks having lost their flexibility, trading four rotation players to Denver for Carmelo Anthony, now on the books at an indivisible $19 million.

At this point, D12 and DWill looked around and saw… each other!

This led the coy Howard to break cover, demanding to be traded… whereupon the Magic said they’d entertain offers… and the Lakers pulled out of talks to reconfigure the Pau deal to pursue Dwight… leaving the Clippers the last team on CP3’s list to make the winning bid… and Lamar Odom so upset, the Lakers decided to give him to Dallas for a No. 1 pick, presumably in the 20s, and an $8.9 million trade exception.

Meanwhile in Michigan, home of the Magic owners, Dick DeVos & Co. whisked Howard off the market, returning to their original plan of winning back Howard’s heart (good luck), and putting team president Alex Martins in charge of recruiting him to stay.

GM Otis Smith, who succumbed—presumably after months listening to Fegan tell him to get something for Howard while he could–and, worse, acknowledged publicly that Dwight wanted out and they were open to letting him out, is now limited to giving name, rank and serial number.

In a recent teeth-pulling interview on TNT, Smith gave the same answer to every question from Craig Sager: Nothing has changed. We’re just continuing to try to get better.

So, we may be stuck here ‘til June with everyone back where they started.

Well, except for the Lakers, Hornets, Knicks, Stern, CP3, Gasol, Odom, Otis Smith….

Mark Heisler is a regular contributor to SheridanHoops, LakersNation and the Old Gray Lady. His power rankings appear Wednesday and his columns appear Thursday. Follow him on Twitter.

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  1. Aaron H says

    Dwight up and down lately? Disinterested? Here’s the averages for the last 5 games:

    28.2 ppg, 14.2 rpg, 1.8 bpg, 65% FG

    Who wouldn’t kill for that kind of “disinterest” from a player on their team?

  2. Rick says

    Otis Smith its a terrible GM. Thats why he’s handcuffed. And I’ve watched every Magic game, Howard has not checked out in any way. Guy plays hard no matter what

  3. Eric says

    With all of the chatter out there, I suspect that Dwight and the Magic now know where he stands and there is an end game here. How Dwight has been up in down several of the past games tells me that either he was wrestling with coming or staying, or he’s just checked out and ready to leave. Clearly something is going on. If he had decided to stay, I don’t think his play would look so disinterested at times lately.

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