Upon Further Review: Has Dwight Howard Become the Most Disliked Athlete?
In a surprising, unexpected development in this year’s off-season, Dwight Howard requested a trade. I don’t think anybody saw that coming, including our writers Vinny Ginardi and Greg Kaplan. We thought it was wise to let the two vent their frustrations in order for them to simply move on with their lives.
As a Magic fan, I officially want Dwight Howard out. It’s crazy to think that I want to send the best center in the league and probably the third best player in the league (only behind LeBron James and Kevin Durant) to another team, but I do. And frankly, I’d rather it happen sooner rather than later.
Last season was a nightmare. Between the trade rumors, requests for Stan Van Gundy’s head, and putting up respectable numbers despite appearing to play with an unparalleled sense of apathy, Howard became impossible to like. Ask any Denver Nuggets fan, they went through a similar situation with Carmelo Anthony. It’s not a great feeling to have a vested interest in your team when your team’s best player doesn’t.
Which is why when Howard opted into his contract right before the trade deadline, I was less than thrilled. It didn’t mean Howard was staying, it meant that his departure was being postponed. And here we are, just a few days after the NBA Draft, and Howard has already demanded a trade (and picked his destination, no less). With or without him, the Magic are going nowhere this season. Jameer Nelson is gone (rumors say because of Dwight) and Ryan Anderson is a restricted free agent. It’s time to send Howard away, so Orlando can finally move on.
Greg Kaplan: As a basketball fan, I’m officially tired of anything involving Dwight Howard. It’s all outrageous. The whole situation. I’ve said many times that LeBron James set the world record for any athlete, going from most loved to most hated in 30 minutes flat. However, all of this Howard business seems to be even worse. Much worse. In fact, I don’t think there is any hope that Howard can improve the image of his “brand” like LeBron has been able to.
Howard claims the Magic “blackmailed” him into signing the opt-in clause. What?! What kind of information could the Magic possibly have that would force you to re-sign with them? In fact, if the Magic could go back, they probably wouldn’t want him to opt-in, with that back issues he faced at the end of the season plus these new trade demands.
Dwight Howard has been nothing short of toxic recently in Orlando. Think about it. One of the most successful coaches in team history, Stan Van Gundy, is gone because their “star” didn’t want to play for him. Jameer Nelson has opted out. Ryan Anderson is due a large raise as a restricted free agent. There is a new GM in town. Nobody wants to come to Orlando right now because, honestly, nobody knows what the hell is going on down there.
There is never a good time to trade a franchise-building big man like Dwight Howard. However, all of the things he does well on the court are thrown in the dark with his prima donna attitude and whiny interviews with the media. He’s ruined his own image, all by himself. Dwight Howard now will never be viewed the same again, and it’s all his fault. What a waste.
VG: Because of everything we’ve discussed, I really really hope that Howard gets traded to any team other than the Nets. The Nets have almost no desirable assets and there are multiple teams (who have more to offer) interested in Howard as a one-year rental. Sending him to Brooklyn would be giving into Howard’s wishes after he’s caused turmoil for the Orlando organization for over year. A trade to Brooklyn would only validate that players still have an overwhelming amount of power (wasn’t the new CBA supposed to fix that?). I trust that Rob Hennigan is going to make the right move and trade Howard in a move that would most benefit the Orlando Magic.
GK: I agree with you, Vinny. I’m actually feeling really spiteful and hoping he gets moved to his least favorite team.
After all the flurries of move today involving Howard’s hometown team, doesn’t it begin to look like the Atlanta Hawks are in the best position to trade for the whiny superstar? They’ve cleared salary the last two days like it was nobody’s business, moving Joe Johnson and he’s soon-to-be-albatross contract to the Brooklyn Nets, which actually did two intriguing things.
The first, it really eliminates the Nets from being totally competitive on the Howard front. They now have to trade for him, and they have to hope the Magic take back a less than desirable package centered around Gerald Wallace and his new four-year contract.
The second, and I think this is flying under the radar a little, they brought in Anthony Morrow, a really close friend to Howard. Another really close friend to Howard? Josh Smith, who has backed off his trade demand, going on record to say he’s completely intrigued by what Danny Ferry has accomplished in one week.
Not only did the Hawks add Morrow, a talented shooter from Brooklyn, they moved the disappointing Marvin Williams (and the two years left on his contract) to Utah for Devin Harris, who is both a productive starting point guard, and also an expiring contract. However, the import of Harris will allow Ferry to trade current point Jeff Teague AND Al Horford for Howard. Is any team going to be able to top that potential offer, if you include a couple first round picks in there as well? I really don’t think so.
VG: This potential deal could be the best offer the Magic can get and it makes sense for both teams. The Magic would receive a solid power forward/center in Horford and an improving young guard in Teague while the Hawks get the best center in the game, who also happens to be good friends with Josh Smith and the newly acquired Anthony Morrow. Throw in that Howard is originally from Atlanta and suddenly it seems like a real possibility that Atlanta could become one of the teams that can keep Howard long term.
I still think the Lakers have to be considered a potential trade destination as well. Well I’m not as big on Andrew Bynum as most people, he’s still only 24 years old and arguably the best center not named Dwight Howard, though I question whether or not he’s a player you can build your team around. Houston still has to be considered as potential suitor too, as they have expressed interest multiple times and have multiple young players that they can package with an expiring Kevin Martin and a cheap Kyle Lowry.
I can’t argue though Greg, Atlanta might be able to offer the best package. I do expect a deal to be done sometime this summer, and when it happens Magic fans such as myself will be able to breath a sigh of relief.