Archive for the ‘2013 Free Agency’ Category

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Excellent work from Rob Mahoney at the Point Forward mapping out all the on-court consequences of Dwight Howard inking a deal with the Houston Rockets. This just goes to show how much a single important transaction can have on the NBA, even if it just seems like one guy choosing a team. I can’t wait for the followup from Darren Rovell explaining the minute candy price variations and supply chain fluctuations after Dwight decided to take his sweet tooth to Texas. Cracked magazine’s regional fart exposé should be pretty good too.

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Maybe because it hasn’t been programmed in to our guide channels, or maybe because I have completely devoted my entire being to not caring about this at all, but Dwight Howard is allegedly choosing one of his suitors today in the finale of “The Bachelor,” and it feels like that has gone a bit under the radar. As such, everyone needs to be prepared for when he makes the choice to join whichever team will hurt his reputation most, as that seems to be the guiding principal behind most of his public decisions these days.

That’s why I’ve created a simple guide for dealing with whatever choice Dwight Howard may make today, even if there is a very real possibility that he holds a press conference where he says he needs more time to decide/more Shock Tarts to sway his choice. It’s based on the Kübler-Ross model and I think you’ll find that it’s very effective.

1. Denial — “I refuse to care about what Dwight Howard does.”
As a bro who came in to the summer deciding not to worry about any Dwight Howard rumors until he signs his megadeal, this is where I’m trying to stay throughout the whole process. I know the likelihood of skipping straight from Denial to Acceptance is pretty low, but I’d love for that to happen. Nonetheless, I feel like ignoring all the stupidity surrounding this — the Lakers billboards, the days full of meetings where he wanted to be courted like a high schooler taking a recruiting trip, the fact that this is legitimately being called “Dwightmare II” like it’s no big deal that being a total derpface has a sequel — is the way to go.

However, I have unfortunately clicked on some links and learned some things, which leads us to…

2. Anger — “Ugh. Can you believe this guy? What a juicebag.”
I’m not exactly sure how the conversion works, but it kind of feels like if you’ve opened three or more Dwight Howard free agency links, this is the stage you’re in. Because seriously, after everything Dwight Howard has been a part of in the past two seasons, reading things like him wanting to see billboards and meet celebrities, that choosing a team is like picking a toy for him, or that this team no this team no wait that team no actually this team is in the lead for his services is just infuriating. Can’t anything just happen with Dwight Howard, without it being a huge thing? Gargoyles, my blood is boiling just typing this.

3. Bargaining — “Now that he’s signed, we don’t have to go through this again for another five years.”
This isn’t your grandfather’s bargaining stage. No, this is a flip, wherein we acknowledge that one of the NBA’s best players changing teams in his prime is a big deal, while also keeping in mind that this same guy has made a huge production about any contract decision he has encountered, which therefore lends us a sense of relief as we assume that we’re done with this until this contact is ready to expire. This is actually a pretty solid stage, but it’s short-lived, which is why I’m warning you in advance.

4. Depression — “Oh wait, this is Dwight Howard we’re talking about. It’ll be something else within the first month of the season.”
Remember when Dwight Howard was one of the most popular players in the NBA and it always seemed like he was doing something zany to win over fans? Since 2011, his life has been just like that, except the complete opposite. It might seem like we’ve spent two years leading up to this decision, and that everything will calm down once Dwight makes his choice, but be careful because I think we all know and can agree that Dwight Howard doesn’t do a very good job of staying out of the news. I don’t know if he’ll end up complaining about not being 100 percent healthy again, the fans being mean to him or that “Cars” got two sequels before “Finding Nemo” got one, but it’s guaranteed to be something. And that is depressing.

5. Acceptance — “Dwight signed with the _________. Neat.”
This is exactly what we are striving for, you guys. To read the news or see the tweets or however we’re going to find out about this thing, then just realize that Dwight Howard’s free agency is over and that he has a team to play for. After that, everything is gravy. You can talk about his fit with the team, their odds of winning a championship, what they can do to build around their star center — basically anything, because at least you’re talking about basketball and not trying to guess which team is going to make a 7-foot tall 5-year-old like them the most.

Like I said, I’ve tried my best to stay in the Denial phase, hoping to go straight to Acceptance once Dwight announces who he’ll be playing for next year. But I’ve clicked some links. I have. And that’s pushed me pretty close to Anger, though I’ve really tried to stay not caring about things. But it all ends today, maybe, and I’m really counting on getting my Acceptance game on. Anything else and I can’t be held accountable for my actions.

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As you probably heard, Dwight Howard went a-courting this week, visiting five teams who hoped to be enlisting his services for next year and several years to come. Dwight made little secret of his desire to be wooed, and wooed he indeed was — reports from the sites of the five job interviews (because all job interviews consist of companies desperately pitching themselves to unconvinced potential employees) described elaborate sales pitches that involved Hall of Famer alums of the respective teams, local celebrities, and some no-doubt seriously balling PowerPoint presentations. Promises were made: Of wins, of rings, of local TV deals and probably some cool jet packs and laser sharks and stuff.

It’s unclear, however, if any team promised Dwight the one thing he probably wants over all else: The chance to be liked again. Four seasons ago, Dwight was one of the most popular players in the league, an amicable, goofy tall guy with an active sense of humor and seemingly limitless athleticism and potential. The unquestioned best player on one of the best teams in the league, he seemed well-liked by his teammates and peers, and mostly respected by his coaches. More than most basketball players of his era, stardom really seemed to fit Dwight’s personality — he was a natural in interviews and commercials, and always seemed one good opportunity away from becoming a multi-platform star, famous beyond basketball, like his most obvious predecessor, Shaquille O’Neal. And aside from a couple stray worries that maybe his jokey demeanor and off-court considerations occasionally interfered with him realizing his basketball greatness, basketball fans were generally good with the Dwight Howard experience.

Then, of course, came the Dwightmare. Coming off the heels of the Melodrama in Denver the season before and LeBron’s Decision before that, Dwight became the latest athlete who let his impending free agency and desire to play for a contending team cast a pall over his career and his public image. Howard’s indecision about whether or not to force a trade from the Magic would eventually alienate him from his teammates, get his coach fired and turn fans in and outside of Orlando (as well as the general hoops media) totally against him. The threat of the Dwightmare going on for another season was seemingly quashed by his trade last offseason to the Los Angeles Lakers, Howard’s rumored eventual destination all along, and there he was expected to win the haters back (as LeBron had) by winning a whole lot. But the Lakers’ season was a colossal disappointment, and now Dwight enters this free agency as doubted and disliked as he has ever been in his pro career.

Dwight Howard is not the kind of player to say “f— the haters” and play the villain, or to say “only God can judge me” and tune out the criticism, or just say nothing at all and let his play do the talking, all of which LeBron attempted at various points of his being hated, to limited success. Dwight is a guy who still wants to be liked. Dwight is a guy who needs to be liked. Dwight is a guy who will absolutely factor in how likeable he will be for choosing a certain team in free agency when he makes a decision on where he will ultimately sign.

So let’s help him out, then. Teams probably won’t address this themselves, since talking about him being liked again would correctly imply that he’s not liked currently (though Ramona Shelburne did report that the Lakers’ meeting with him was “honest,” so maybe Nash dropped some serious real talk on him), but nothing’s stopping us from talking about it. How liked will Dwight be if he joins any one of these teams? There’s a pro and con argument to be made for each, so let’s make both of ‘em and come to a conclusion. In order of Dwight’s meetings:

Houston Rockets

Yes Like: Dwight could very easily become likeable-by-association just by joining the Rockets. Houston established themselves last year as one of the league’s preeminent bandwagon teams, with a super-fun, uptempo style of play that results in a whole lot of three-pointers and a whole lot of points in general. What’s more, they’re also a well-liked bunch of dudes, nice boys like Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons and James Harden, with good reputations and oddball demeanors. Dwight would fit into the team’s style and personality as if he’d been there all along, like when the new kid hangs out with your group of friends at middle school for the first time and you just know. It’d be pretty hard to stay mad at him playing on a team like that.

No Like: Dwight will be changing teams again — a given for most of these scenarios — and leaving his crumbling situation for the second time in two years to go play with the cool kids elsewhere. His arrival may also result in the necessary deposing of the well-liked Omer Asik, leading to inevitable and potentially unfavorable comparisons between the two should Dwight’s defense falter as it did early last season, or should he be perceived to not be working hard enough.

Likability Scale: 8/10. Some inevitable minor PR concerns, but Houston seems like a pretty good shot at long-term redemption for Dwight, turning him back into both a winner and a fan favorite.

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Here is a tricky situation: when you have a publicly-stated and very strict “Don’t care about Dwight Howard” policy for this summer, but Metta World Peace starts saying Metta World Peace things about Dwight’s free agency, what do you do? Or essentially — does Metta World Peace’s silliness make up for Dwight Howard’s insufferability?

In this scenario, the answer is yes. From CSNHouston.com:

When asked about the Lakers center who is about to be a free agent, World Peace said, “Well, he’s not going to Houston, I tell you that.

“You know how those horses have those little things, ties in a bullfight, you tie those things to their b—- and they go crazy? I’ve got two of those tied to Dwight Howard’s t——–, so he can’t move.”

After massive laughter, Sportsradio 610′s Mike Meltser asked, “So you think Dwight is definitely staying in LA?”

“He can’t move,” World Peace answered. “If he does, it’ll be painful. So he can’t go nowhere.”

See? I think that was worth it. And because Googling “strap around horse testicles” or any variation of that phrase is asking for trouble, I’m not going to worry about deciding if MWP is talking about a flank strap or elastration, and just charge it to the game. Though if I were to venture a guess, I’d go flank strap. #TeamFlankStrap

And while I think we’d all like to think about this mental image as little as we can, when you really do think about it, Metta World Peace’s ball strap analogy seem pretty risky. If you go the “tied to” route, well, there was no team Dwight was more tied to than the Orlando Magic, for whom Dwig played his first eight seasons. But if you go the “too painful” route, well, Dwight did panic and re-up with the Magic for half a season because he was sad that everyone kept being mad at him. So maybe Metta does have a point, pain-wise.

That being said, I still don’t think Metta World Peace should have tied a rope around Dwight Howard’s balls. Common courtesy.

(via PBT)

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Since the Lakers couldn’t figure out how to squeeze a single playoff win out of the league’s highest payroll, they’re technically in the offseason, even though we still have a few weeks worth of ball to enjoy. And being as it’s their offseason, that means it’s Dwight Howard’s offseason, which means it’s the absolute perfect time to start saying things that will undoubtedly get people upset.

So please, do not be surprised when I tell you that Dwight Howard has said some things that will make people upset. The things are, from the Los Angeles Times, NOT STOPPING LIVING HIS LIFE:

We all met at UCLA, Howard was as friendly as always and relaxed after fishing trips to Lake Tahoe and Aspen.

He posted Twitter pictures of the fish that had jumped in his boat or the ones he claimed he had caught. But they were the wrong kind of trophies for some Lakers fans.

“You just can’t please people,” Howard said. “I catch fish and it’s a problem. People were upset I was out having fun; they thought I should be sitting in a room all upset because we lost.

“I am upset, but I’m not going to stop living life.”

And also HE IS SERIOUSLY UPSET ABOUT THE LOSING:

“I couldn’t watch the playoffs I was so ticked. Everywhere I went I saw a Tim Duncan jersey, and you know how much I hated that.”

Oh plus SHAQ JOKES:

We also chatted about his desire to make movies.

“Maybe ‘Kazaam II’,” he joked in reference to Shaq’s bomb. “Actually I’m working right now on some stuff with Disney.”

“Do they have a Disney studio in Houston?” I asked.

“Time to shoot free throws,” said Howard.

And he is GOING TO STOP WORRYING ABOUT WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK:

They moved to three-point territory for a game of “around the world,” advancing from spot to spot after making a three-pointer.

Kelzer quickly left Howard behind, yelling to him, “How’s your world doing?”

It was all good, Howard singing and rolling with every trash jab, although admitting he no longer intends to be a people-pleaser.

“I can’t do it anymore,” he said. “I can’t please everybody.”

Also he will EXPLORE HIS OPTIONS:

Between missed shots, I asked why he hasn’t committed to the Lakers.

“It’s free agency and I have the opportunity to choose where I’m going to play,” he said. “God opens doors, and I’m relying on my faith to direct me.

“I don’t think it’s fair I get criticized for waiting on such an opportunity.”

And he WON’T SAY ANYTHING BAD ABOUT MIKE D’ANTONI:

So what do you think of D’Antoni?

“I love him,” he said. “He’s a great person.”

Is he a great coach?

“He’s a great person and I’m glad we had the opportunity to be together,” said Howard, which some will undoubtedly interpret as goodbye.

Those are the things that Dwight Howard said, and those things are going to serve as the baseline for every silly, stupid, untimely, graceless thing Dwight Howard says in the offseason. Everything that happens will be some iteration of one of these things, perhaps taken to its most illogical extreme, because that is what happens with Dwight Howard. It will just be the same stuff over and over until it is so bonkers that you can’t stop hoping he’ll sign a 50-year contract for smiling with any team in the league just so you don’t have to go through another free agency period.

And that is exactly why I am proposing the “Don’t Care About Dwight Howard” movement, wherein we don’t really care about Dwight Howard. You can follow along with all the storylines if you want, but it’s not worth trying to figure out what he is going to do, because that will drive you insane. He’ll sign somewhere eventually, we’ll know what team he’s going to be playing for and then we can get interested in him again. It’s not going to be worth trying to ascertain what he’s thinking or where he wants to go or if he’s trying to get a coach fired or if he inevitably puts his foot in his mouth again, so just don’t worry about it. Treat the whole thing like “The Big Bang Theory” — know it exists and that some people are interested in it, but just ignore it. It’s going to feel great.

Or don’t. Get really in to it. It’s your life and Dwight Howard would want you to live it no matter what anyone said. Your call.