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Dwight’s Collateral Damage

Dwight Howard has done an impressive job transforming himself from a likable and goofy star into the NBA’s biggest prima donna in just 6 months. For a man who refuses to utter a swear word and who entered the league hoping to add a cross to the NBA logo in deference to his religion, he clearly is not a bad person.

But the 26 year old center, drafted out of high school, is proving he still has yet to grow up. Immaturity in the NBA usually describes players like DeMarcus Cousins or Andrew Bynum who regularly show lapses in judgement, inconsistent effort, and poor body language. Dwight’s immaturity is a different breed and possibly a much worse one, considering the damage it has done, not just to his own reputation, but to the NBA as a whole.

Howard is the only one smiling at his latest round of antics.

For the NBA’s most physically imposing specimen, Howard’s childish antics have long seemed out of place. But as they have begun to affect his business decisions and those of several NBA teams, he needs to grow up and quickly.

Now it appears the Howard drama could be nearing its end, or at least relocating and continuing in Brooklyn. A ridiculous 4 team, 14 player trade is in the works that could look something like this, according to ESPN:

According to sources the Nets would receive Howard, Jason Richardson, Chris Duhon and Earl Clark in the proposed deal. The Magic would get Brook Lopez, Luke Walton, Damion James, Shelden Williams, Armon Johnson and three first-round picks — two from the Nets and a lottery-protected first from the Clippers. The Cavs would get Kris Humphries, Quentin Richardson,Sundiata Gaines, a first-round pick from the Nets and $3 million in cash. The Clippers would receive MarShon Brooks.

Trade talks are still ongoing, so this is subject to change, and may not ever come to fruition. As of now, though, this appears to be the most likely scenario, as Howard has limited his trade request to just the Brooklyn Nets.

Howard’s inability to decide his fate at the trade deadline has clearly affected many people, and his change of mind to again desire to be traded will affect even more.

The list of casualties in the Dwight Howard hostage situation:

  • Howard’s reputation
  • Orlando head coach Stan Van Gundy (fired), with whom Howard long butted heads and who Howard demanded be fired if the Magic hoped to keep him
  • Orlando General Manager Otis Smith (fired), who Howard complained did not include him enough in decisions
  • Deron Williams: Williams re-signed with Brooklyn largely because of the possibility of Howard coming. He seems to have been recruiting Dwight for some time.

    Teaming Dwight with Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Gerald Wallace would make the Brooklyn Nets instant title contenders

  • Joe Johnson: Without Johnson D-Will says he would not have stayed with the Nets, so by trading for him they were able to keep one superstar (Williams) that they needed to bring in another superstar (Howard). Complicated stuff.
  • Gerald Wallace: Wallace was an early attempt to achieve the same outcome that the Johnson trade brought. The Nets hoped having Wallace on the team would make them more appealing to both Williams and Howard.
  • Damian Lillard: Drafted 6th overall by the Blazers using the pick sent to them in the Wallace deal, Lillard would most likely have been taken outside the top-10 had the Blazers not been there. Other teams in the lottery didn’t have a pressing need to draft a point guard.
  • Mirza Teletovic: Teletovic was forced to restructure his contract with the Nets after the Joe Johnson trade to free up extra cap space to fit Howard into the salary cap. He gave up several million dollars.
  • Brook Lopez: Lopez would go from being a complementary piece on a talented playoff team to the main option for a barren Orlando roster.
  • Kris Humphries: For the proposed trade to work, Humphries (as well as several of the smaller trade pieces) would have to agree to a one year agreement with the Nets and a sign-and-trade to the Cavaliers. Given that the Cavs have the space to sign him for a longer deal without the trade, Humphries would lose out on the financial security of a multi-year contract. His agreement to this trade is its biggest holdup right now.
  • MarShon Brooks: Brooks would go to a Clippers team that has a very similar player in Jamal Crawford. That could reduce his role.
  • Jason Richardson, Earl Clark, Chris Duhon, Armon Johnson, Damion James, Sundiata Gaines, Luke Walton, Shelden Williams, and Quentin Richardson: These guys are all just throw ins to the trade to make it work financially and to give teams like Orlando and the Cavs more financial incentive to be a part of the deal, as they shed salary.
  • Houston Rockets: Houston tried desperately to get Howard during the draft, hoping to use their three 1st round picks to entice Orlando into a deal. If not that, they hoped to move into the top-10 and draft Andre Drummond and include him in a trade for Howard. Neither of these worked, and Houston is now left with 3 more decent players on a team full of decent players. They’re still stuck in no man’s land between playoff contention and the lottery.
  • Brian Shaw/Michael Malone: The Pacers and Warriors respective assistant coaches are among the names of interviewees for the Magic coaching job. These coaches both had important roles on their teams’ benches and their departure could have a negative impact on their former teams.
  • Marvin Williams: Atlanta traded Joe Johnson and Williams, clearing cap space to make a run for Howard, who grew up in Atlanta. Williams will get a fresh start in Utah.
  • Andrew Bynum: The lower we get on the list, it’s more of a stretch to determine the impact. Bynum’s name was mentioned a lot as the Lakers’ trade chip to get Howard. LA’s willingness to trade him could drive him away as it did to Lamar Odom.
Obviously the ripple effect caused by Howard has been extensive.

Prior to the beginning of last season Howard demanded trade, citing the Nets, Lakers, and Mavericks as desired targets. Orlando clearly did not want to part with their franchise centerpiece and tried to convince him to stay during the first half of the season. But Howard maintained his desire to be traded, and Orlando did not want to risk losing him as a Free Agent after the season and receive nothing in compensation, as Cleveland did after LeBron’s departure.

But constrained by his request to be traded to 1 of only 3 teams, none with desirable assets they were willing to part with, Orlando had its hands tied. But as a deal with the Nets, centered around Brook Lopez and draft picks, pieced itself together, Howard suddenly changed his stance (several times), finally deciding he wanted to stay with Orlando – but

Howard long made his frustration with former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy known.

would not sign a new contract. Instead he just waived his Early Termination Option, agreeing to stay with Orlando 1 more year before becoming an Unrestricted Free Agent, essentially realizing Orlando’s greatest fear of losing him for nothing.

Howard injured himself late in the season, forcing him to miss the playoff – ironic considering he claimed to stay with the Magic to make one more title run. Following the season he gave Orlando the ultimatum: him or Van Gundy. Along Van Gundy’s firing, Otis Smith was shown the exit. Howard then laid his trade demand back on the Magic management. Not cool.

Howard’s saga has shown his immaturity was worse than anyone ever imagined. He seemingly manipulated his team in order to try to force his way onto the Nets without them giving much up. Sadly it appears that plan may have worked.

Somewhere, LeBron is smiling. Just weeks apart he gets his first title and is no longer atop the NBA’s most hated list.


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Taking A Look Back At The Stellar 2003 NBA Draft


It’s been nine years to the date, June 26, 2003, from one of the best NBA drafts of all time. Here’s a look at the top nine players from that draft, in the order they were drafted, including career updates and what scouts/analysts thought of them going into the draft.

No. 1, Cleveland Cavaliers – LeBron James

The expectations were sky high for James from the get-go as ‘The Next Jordan’ labels started in middle school. One NBA Scout called him the “Best high school player I’ve ever seen. He is a freak.” after only his sophomore season in high school. James has lived up to the hype, with three NBA regular season MVP’s, six All-NBA First team selections, and 32 triple doubles, fourth all time, so far.

No. 3, Denver Nuggets – Carmelo Anthony


Not sure if Carmelo’s a freshman in college or a 6th grader…

Going into the draft, NBA Scouts were drooling over Anthony’s scoring ability. He hasn’t let them down, developing into possibly the NBA’s purest scorer. Scouts did call him out for his perimeter defense pre-draft, and nine years later, Melo hasn’t improved much. Still, Anthony figures to have a spot in the NBA Hall of Fame, even if he doesn’t win an NBA Championship in his career.

No. 4, Toronto Raptors – Chris Bosh

NBA draft analysts thought the talent pool went very thin after the top three, but many players selected fourth or after went onto become NBA All-Stars like Chris Bosh. He has developed into a 20-10 player, and with another championship or two, should be a Hall of Famer.

No. 5, Miami Heat – Dwayne Wade

Scouts thought Wade was too short (6-4) to play shooting guard in the NBA. Pat Riley wasn’t sure on Wade, and wanted Chris Kaman on draft night. Wisely though, he opened up the decision to a vote by his scouting staff and one name kept coming up: Dwayne Wade. So Miami surprised many and took Wade early at No. 5. (projected to go as early as No. 8) Wade led Miami to the 2005 NBA Championship in his third year in league, and won NBA Finals MVP that year.

No. 6, Los Angeles Clippers – Chris Kaman

Just the Clippers’ luck, they pick right after four future Hall of Famers are selected. Still Kaman developed into a solid NBA big man with career averages of 11.9 points per game and 8.3 points per game, with one All-Star appearance.

No. 7, Chicago Bulls – Kirk Hinrich

ESPN’s Jay Bilas listed Kirk Hinrich above Dwayne Wade in his ‘Best Players Available’ list before the draft. So much for that. Hinrich though has developed into a solid point guard and exactly what he said he would be when EA Sports asked him, “The team that drafts you – what are they going to get?” before the draft.

 “They’re going to get a hard worker, a competitor, and a guy that’s going to come in and try to immediately help their team. A total team player who is very coachable and just cares about one thing, and that’s winning,” Hinrich said.

Hinrich has career averages of 12.5 ppg, 5.4 apg, and 37.8% three point percentage and would be a good veteran free agent pick up for many teams this offseason.


Somewhere Mark Jackson was caught saying, “Mama, there goes that man!”

No. 18, New Orleans Hornets – David West

ESPN’s Chad Ford gave the Hornets a ‘C+’ in his draft day grades primarily for this pick. West though was a draft day steal at No. 18. He played the role of Chris Paul’s sidekick to perfection when New Orleans earned the No. 2 seed in the West. In nine seasons, he has made two All-Star games and has career averages of 16 ppg and 7.2 rpg.

No. 29, Dallas Mavericks – Josh Howard

The Mavericks hit big when they landed Howard at No. 29, who was talented enough to go much higher. From 2005 – 2009, he averaged over 16 ppg, made an All-Star appearance, and helped Dallas make an NBA Finals run.

No. 47, Utah Jazz – Mo Williams

Most second round draft picks are out of the league in a few years. Williams was an absolute steal at No. 47 who no one saw coming. He has developed into a solid point guard so far, with an All-Star appearance and career averages of 13.8 ppg and 4.9 apg.

Honorable Mentions:      

No. 8, Milwaukee Bucks – T.J. Ford, No. 21, Atlanta Hawks – Boris Diaw, No. 27, Memphis Grizzlies (traded to Boston Celtics) – Kendrick Perkins, No. 28, San Antonio Spurs (traded to Phoenix Suns) – Leandro Barbosa, No. 31, Cleveland Cavaliers – Jason Kapono

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NBA Draft Lottery: The David Stern Conspiracy Continues

It’s been a rough year for David Stern’s PR team. As the NBA commissioner, much of the blame of the lockout fell on his shoulders. The refusal of the owners, which he represented, to concede to the demands of the Players Union elongated the process and resulted in missed games and a truncated regular season.

Then came the Chris Paul debacle. Shortly after the league-owned New Orleans Hornets agreed to trade their superstar point guard to the Los Angeles Lakers, the league announced that Stern had shot down the deal for “basketball reasons.”

This set a pack of rabid Laker fans on Stern, and their complaints made some sense.

Jack Nicholson and a hoard of crazed Lakers fans protested David Stern’s decision to cancel the Chris Paul trade to the Lakers.

It seemed to be a conflict of interest that NBA commissioner was the owner of a franchise that was controlling the fate of two other franchises (the Houston Rockets would have gotten Pau Gasol in the trade).

Matters only grew worse when Paul was instead traded to LA’s other team, the Clippers, to team up with the NBA’s newest superstar in Blake Griffin. While the trade with the Clippers did land the Hornets some younger pieces to build around than the Lakers/Houston deal, things just smelt a tad fishy.

New Orleans better be ready for this handsome mug on their billboards.

Fast forward five months and Stern and the Hornets are in the news again. New Orleans won tonight’s NBA Draft Lottery, or better known as the Unibrow Sweepstakes as the Hornets will undoubtedly select Kentucky’s Anthony David first overall.

The league recently sold the Hornets to New Orleans Saints’ owner Tom Benson, and I’m sure Stern wishes the  deal wasn’t struck until after tonight’s results, as the addition of Davis will significantly boost the team’s value. But Stern and the league technically are still the team’s owners while the deal with Benson is finalized and approved by the other NBA owners.

After last year’s lottery went to Cleveland, allowing them to replace their lost superstar with

Vince McMahon might just be the perfect choice to replace David Stern as commissioner, given his background in WWE and their honest and not-rigged wrestling.

a new one in Kyrie Irving, it just so happens that this year’s lottery winner also lost their former franchise player. Conspiracy? Who knows, but if these types of “coincidences” keep happening, Vince McMahon might need to take Stern’s job.

Other story lines from the Draft Lottery:

  • The Bobcats fell to No. 2 in the draft, continuing to hold onto the unlucky claim to be one of just two teams (the other being the Phoenix Suns) to never have won the draft lottery. This news will be especially hard to swallow this year, coming off the worst season in NBA history based on winning percentage and drafting second in a draft with just one elite player.
  • The Brooklyn Nets did not move into the top three, meaning their pick at No. 6 will go to the Portland Trailblazers as part of the Gerald Wallace deal. Again, a tough break for a team that could have used extra help with the return of Deron Williams in doubt and the chances of acquiring Dwight Howard having disappeared. You can’t sympathize too much, though, because this was just a poor trade. The trade for Wallace could have been completed for a much lower pick, so even if the Nets only liked the draft’s top three players (their reasoning for only placing top-3 protection on the pick) they could have traded the No. 6 pick for a useful player to entice Williams to stay.
  • The Warriors, on the other hand, were able to keep their pick, which was top-7 protected, thanks to a terrific tanking job to end their season (they went 5-22 to finish the season, moving from the 10th worst team to the 7th over that span and securing the No. 7 pick). There have been rumblings in Golden State that trading the pick is a possibility, with Andre Iguodala’s name popping up frequently, but given Philadelphia’s admirable performance getting deep into the second round of the playoffs, it seems unlikely they would trade away a key player for a chance to draft an unproven rookie. Golden State will have four picks in the draft, though, so it is likely at least one of those will be traded away.

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Tips for a Panicked Lakers Front Office

Well, here you have it Lakers fans.  Your team is once again out of the playoffs and the Western Conference Semifinals are quickly becoming your kryptonite.

It seems as though next season there are only two certainties with the team—that Kobe Bryant will continue to be the centerpiece and that Jack Nicholson will be courtside.

Andrew Bynum consistently showed his All-Star ability but always remains an injury risk.

An absent Pau Gasol appears at the moment to be an immovable piece with not too many teams having the financial means to take on the 19-million dollar contract of a man who appeared to be taking a vacation from boxing out and dunking.

Ramon Sessions flashed potential at the point guard position but is unsigned beyond the 2012-2013 season.

Los Angeles is a basketball city with a rich tradition that refuses to accept mediocrity.  To quote Saturday Night Live’s “Bob and Bill Schwersky’s Superfans,” the expectation is generally a “minimum eight-peat.”

Since the snow-covered moving vans pulled into the Forum back in 1960, the Lakers have reigned as the crown jewel (sorry, LA Kings) of the city.  In order to prevent the Lake Show from being cast aside in favor of a younger, livelier Lob City brand, I have devised a few guidelines the Lakers should consider.

1. Give Mike Brown a couple of years– Sure, his hiring went unrecognized by Kobe for nearly a month and his team failed to mesh down the stretch but Phil Jackson’s last hurrah against the Dallas Mavericks will go down as one of the most notorious playoff beat-downs in NBA history.  In 2007, Brown coached LeBron James and the Nonexistent Supporting Cast (my future band name) to the NBA Finals and there is no reason he can’t do the same with the Lakers.

The Cleveland Cavaliers: Practicing bench dance moves since 2003.

2. Make things right with Derek Fisher– Everyone knows Derek Fisher is not the point guard he once was and has never been a piece to build a team around, but his trade gave the Lakers a black eye that they certainly didn’t need in mid-May.  If the season ends and he decides to hang up the sneakers, Lakers management needs to do the right thing and reach out to Fisher to silence all the rabble-rousers.

No. 2 doesn’t have to hang from the rafters any time soon, but the two sides need to reconcile their differences.

3. Sign Dwight Howard and put him in couples therapy with Kobe- If only NBA signings came with a test drive.  On paper, a Kobe Bryant-Dwight Howard dynamic duo (if Dwight even wants to make the trip out West) is a match made in heaven, but personality-wise it has the makings of a battle between two divas.  Whatever changes the Lakers decide to make (and they will make changes), they need to be sure to receive an affirmative Kobe face before putting pen to paper.

Lakers fans haven’t seen this Blue Steel-esque look in over two years.

4. Relax! Didn’t you just come off of back-to-back titles?- Amidst all this post-elimination turmoil, the Lakers are still just two seasons removed from Kobe’s fifth NBA title and one offseason move away from once again hoisting the trophy.  No Kobe-led squad will ever imitate the Bobcats.  If all else fails, Magic Johnson can just buy the team.

Wouldn’t it be easier if everything was owned by Magic?


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