It should’ve been so simple. A star player eyes freedom at the end of the year and even asks for a trade prior to the season to save face. Yet, when the player in question is Dwight Howard, the operation spiraled into a sh*tstorm in no time flat.
You already know how he became a villain and contributed to coach Stan Van Gundy’s and GM Otis Smith’s exits. And, after all that, he almost got his wish to join the Brooklyn Nets via a ridiculous 10+ player, multi-team deal. The keyword here is “almost.”
Orlando’s new GM Rob Hennigan fielded other requests from Houston and Los Angeles until 5 p.m. EST Wednesday. Then he pulled a Puff and shut down the studio. Trade talks with Brooklyn ceased as Rob shifted focus on finding a new coach. Hennigan is reportedly in no hurry to make a deal and even believes he can work things out with Howard.* Sounds like a pipe dream to me but give credit where it’s due. Rob got this far without conceding to demands left and right after all.
So now Hennigan’s new approach ought to signal Dwightmare’s decline, right?
Not really, Billy King wasted no time in signing Brook Lopez to a max four year deal. Let him linger a second too long and Brook would’ve signed an offer sheet elsewhere. Brooklyn would match but, in doing that, would forfeit any chance to trade for Lopez throughout next season: counter-productive to another blockbuster trade attempt this year. They’re well over the cap as well so acquiring Dwight via free agency isn’t an option. Additionally Houston and L.A. will keep looming for their chance to strike with offers before the deadline.
At least we can stuff Howard’s failed BK trade in the basement with our Sonics jerseys and Bullets Fever shirts until the season starts. Cite this turn of events whenever people say stars hold teams hostage and rookie GM’s don’t know what they’re doing. Rob has been groomed by OKC’s and San Antonio’s front offices so he knows the value of a well-run organization. He proved his wisdom by not caving in to Howard’s appeal or Billy King’s attempt to fleece him of the game’s best center. Lopez is my boy but he’s coming off of a foot injury and still has a hazy upside. The risk in gaining Brook far outweighs the reward especially since Henny would have to give Brook a max deal. He also avoided Mitch’s proposal to dupe him thus far with the most suitable trade piece in Andrew Bynum. Both parties knew damn well Andrew wouldn’t re-sign after this season so why get punked into leasing the next best talent?
Houston offers the best scenario for a rebuilding team like Orlando. They’re extra thirsty to take a year long chance on Howard and can even pull off a two team deal to avoid strengthening LA’s loaded starting lineup. The Magic stand to gain expiring contracts in the likes of Kevin Martin and Luis Scola**, a buffet of draft picks as well as get Dwight out of town. Your resident keyboard GM can see Hennigan and co. letting those plans cook until the time’s right.
Getting lucky Restructuring through the draft is all the rage for small market teams anyway.
When you have one of the league’s best talents looking for a way out you ought to take reasonable time towards doing what’s best for the organization. A rushed trade, especially when you’re barely a month into your job, can derail your franchise for years and brands your inability to orchestrate fair deals. Hennigan instead played his cards right and lives to negotiate another day.
Besides, call me twisted but this needs to happen somehow.
*Well he believed he could save the day. Hennigan’s heart to heart with Dwight unsurprisingly failed but it didn’t hurt to try.
**Luis Scola is actually signed through 2014-15. However the Rockets plan on using the amnesty clause on him to make room for their latest Dwight Howard trade attempt. So I guess his contract might expire in a “get off our cap, bro” kind of way.