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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Deal or No Deal

Anyone who had been paying attention to the NBA or even just watched some type of sports news network this season knows about Dwight Howard's trade demands. As long time friends and co-authors of this blog Clark and I (Smitty) tend to view and see things in the sports world very similar at times. However, we did just recently get in to a debate this weekend over what should happen with Dwight Howard. Before we go any further I must disclose that I am an Orlando Magic fan and my PIC (partner in crime) is a die hard Bulls fan. What you are about to read is our opinions on what should happen with Dwight, and you might be surprised what side of the fence we fall on.


The argument to deal Dwight comes from the most unlikely of people.... Smitty (ME). As a Magic fan I was beyond excited when we drafted Dwight Howard back in 2004. This was going to be the second coming of Shaq, we could groom him and put the right pieces around him and we would have a championship team in no time. To Orlando's defense they almost did have that back in 2008-2009 season when they lost in the finals to the Lakers. If Orlando had won that series who knows if we would even be having this conversation. but the fact is we are having this conversation. I only have one argument for trading Dwight and frankly I only need one argument for trading him....SHAQ!
Orlando has been througt this before and if you don't learn from your past mistakes then you are doomed to repeat them. This is what I fear will happen if Orlando lets Dwight go in to Free Agency (FA) as an unrestricted free agent. The same thing happened with Shaq in 1996. Orlando let Shaq enter free agency and they were not able to resign him. The Lakers were and what did he do for them? Only help them win 3 titles! Oh and did I mention that they were consecutive 2000, 2001, & 2002! What did Orlando get from letting him walk ......NOTHING!!!!
This is a simple decision for Orlando. Dwight doesn't want to be there and has given no indication that he will even consider staying if they let him "test" the market. TRADE DWIGHT.  Earlier this year New Jersey was offering Brook Lopez and two 1st round picks. Orlando if you can get a similar offer take it and walk away from a player who has given you a lot but has given no reason to think he would stay if you let him walk. It will hurt now but it is better than getting nothing for the future.



Alot of what my partner says, I agree with.  It would be awful for the Magic to lose Dwight Howard for nothing.  You never want to let a player of his magnitude just walk for nothing, especially when they allowed it to happen when they had Shaq.  There are a lot of similarities in the situation, yet there are some differences.  The biggest to me is that these are 2 different men.  I don't see them as being all that similar as human beings.  Sure they both have similar games, yeah they both are called "Superman" and yes, they both have the kind of personalities you gravitate to.  But still, I see Dwight as being a little more wholesome, more of a feeling type of guy.  Not someone that calls himself "Diesel" and puts out awful movies and rap albums.  I truly think, once Dwight took some of the emotion out of it from this past off season, he truly would rather win in Orlando and not somewhere else.  I'm not disputing he needs more help, that much is clear.  But I don’t feel Dwight wants to leave Orlando and I think team executives sense that, which is why they don't trade him at the deadline.

There are many reasons for Dwight to stay which work in the Magic's favor.
Here are a few:

1)  Loyalty:  Because Dwight is the guy I think he is, I think this means something to him.  He saw how much grief Lebron took when he left.  Howard doesn't want to be that guy because of the type of person he is.  This is his team and what better way to solidify your place in history then winning with the Magic.  Plus, doesn't it seem like just as many times as Dwight says he wants out, he says he wants to stay?  He's CLEARLY conflicted.  I think he can be won over because of that and loyalty plays a big role in my eyes.

2)  Money:  Because of the NBA's structure, Orlando can offer him the most cash than any other team.  Not only that, there is no state income tax in Florida which should save him 7% of the already bigger deal than any other team can offer him.  As we all know, money talks.

3)  Location:  It’s bright sunny Orlando.  Yeah, LA is nice.....but with the pollution and everything, no thanks, Orlando a much nicer city.  You got beaches, nightlife, and a wonderful city.  Think about this, based on location alone.............which NBA city would you most like to play in?  If you just said Brooklyn, you’re nuts, or from Brooklyn.

4)  Potential Teams
LA Lakers - The Lakers already have Bynum.  He is probably the 2nd best C in the league after Howard.  Does an upgrade from the #2 center to #1 center really make the difference?  To me, Howard isn't any closer to winning landing in LA.  Plus, does he really want the Shaq comparisons all his life?
Dallas Mavericks - This would be a nice fit for Dwight.  Cuban never has been shy about bringing anyone in to help the team win.  Be ideal spot for Howard but Dallas has nothing to offer Orlando when it comes to moving Dwight.  Even if you go there, Dirk's years are limited and that championship window may be small. Howard better hope Cuban can find him another star to play with.
New Jersey Nets - Sure, Lopez and some draft picks would help.  It’s probably better than anything the Lakers or Mavericks can offer.  But, you get dealt to NJ this year; you're not making the playoffs.

So that’s why Dwight might consider staying in Orlando. 

Here are some reasons Orlando might just wait this thing out.

1)  No Appealing Offers:  If there is one thing you can say certainly when you attempt to trade a superstar is you will NEVER get equal value back.  It just doesn't happen.  If anything offered was that good, wouldn't he of been dealt by now?  I don't think Brook Lopez and some 1st round draft picks is that good an offer even though it might be the "best" one out there.  How do you build a championship team?  Do you do it through the draft?  I don’t think so.  Forget draft picks, you need great "known quality" NBA players to be a champion.  This happens via trade (taking advantage of a team's situation like Orlando is in) or FA signings.  Draft picks are hit or miss.  Let’s look at the last 10 NBA Champs.
2000 - 2002:  LA Lakers - Yep, they got Shaq from Orlando, a FA signing
2003:  Spurs - Well, Duncan, Parker, Ginobli........they were all Spurs draft picks.  I'll give credit where credit is due.  However, I'm gonna say that type of situation is more of the exception rather than the norm.
2004:  Detroit Pistons:  Billups signed in 2002 with this team, and that championship season they dealt for Rasheed Wallace at the deadline.  He had a lot to do with them winning the title.
2005:  Spurs - Same story here, I will give them credit.
2006:  Miami Heat - Shaq strikes again, this time via trade however.  ZO & Payton signed as FAs.  Walker, Jayson Williams, & Posey brought in via trade just before the season started.  Wade however was drafted.
2007:  Spurs:  I'm not going to repeat myself.
2008:  Boston Celtics - Celtics drafted Pierce but were not good until KG & Allen were brought on board.  KG was traded for because, like Orlando, KG was threatening to leave Minnesota anyways.  Allen was brought in essentially the same way.  And Rondo was drafted, yet not the Rondo he is now with his 10ppg & 5apg that season.
2009-10:  LA Lakers - Yeah they drafted Kobe.  But when did he really start to win?  Oh, earlier when they signed Shaq as a FA and this time around....oh, when they ripped off Memphis and got Pau Gasol via trade.  Gasol's first full season with LA and they win the title.  The year before they got him at the deadline only to lose to the Celtics in the finals, who had just put together Garnett & Allen with Pierce.
2011:  Dallas Mavericks:  Yeah, they drafted Dirk.  But Dirk wasn't winning on his own.  They didn't become a champion until they acquired Caron Butler, Tyson Chandler, Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, and Jason Terry via trade in the years leading up to the title.
2012:  ????? ???? - Yeah, those question marks spell out a team’s city and name.  I won’t say who it is but there was a team a few summers ago that acquired Lebron and Bosh as unrestricted FAs that went to the finals last year and lost to the Mavericks team I talked about above.  They just might be best team in the league this year.

My point is, I don't think draft picks are necessarily going to get you to the promise land.  In my opinion, make a splash and get some good players via trade or free agency.  So, after that rant, why is it again that the Magic might just wait this thing out?

2)  Free Up Cap Space:  You roll the dice on Dwight this summer and try to sign him knowing all of the above.  If you don’t sign him, well, you have $20million to try to spend wisely to build your team back up.

3)  You’re a better team if you can retain him:  You know your team will be better if you can retain him rather than trade him.  Why not give your team that chance this offseason?

4)  No one knows Dwight like Orlando:  You drafted the kid out of High School before he was 20 years old.  No one knows him like the Magic do.  They also know his family very well.  Maybe this summer they can throw a bunch of money at him and tug at his heart strings to stay in Orlando.  If you trade him, that has no shot at happening.

Also, read this on attempting to acquire Steve Nash. 

For the record, that would be a great acquisition for Orlando.  Nash almost made Gortat look like an All-star and Amare hasn't been the same since he left Nash.  Also, Nash is 12million expiring.  So, if Dwight chooses to leave in the summer, you'd lose Nash too and free up close to 32million for free agents to rebuild.

So, to recap.......I say NO DEAL.  Do not trade Howard.  Make a move for a playoff run like a Steve Nash and ride this situation out.  Take your chances that you can resign him due to many factors and if you can't, use the 20million that summer to improve your roster through trades and free agency.  Do you look like a fool if he leaves?.....Yeah, maybe so.  But Shaq still gets booooo-ed when he goes to Orlando (he did at All-Star Weekend).....Let the fans do the same to Dwight.

- Clark -

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