Dwight & LA: The Mavs' Pain In 'Plan Powder'
The presumption, at this moment, that all the bricks have magically fallen in place for the unfathomably hate-worthy construction of a relationship between Dwight Howard and the Los Angeles Lakers is premature.
But if RealGM.com's Jarrod Rudolph (a Howard crony) is accurate in his report, Howard is now agreeable to re-signing in LA and foregoing his summer-of-2013 free agency.
This is obviously horrible news for the Dallas Mavericks, on two fronts:
1. Howard has long had Dallas on his short list of acceptable long-term destinations. Dwight-to-LA would again put the Mavs in bridesmaid position, as was this summer's case with DeronQuest.
2. The Lakers – CBA be damned – will have assembled a team featuring Kobe, Nash, Gasol and Dwight. (No, Artest does not deserve mention in the same pantheon, though his face will join theirs on the t-shirts, I guess.) The Mavs' long-time formula of Dirk and depth is something Dallas is trying to change with "Plan Powder.'' But it may have to go unchanged for awhile, and while the Mavs' roster this year might indeed be deep, once we get to the playoffs, being 10 guys deep seems vastly inferior to being four guys deep – especially if those four guys are Kobe, Nash, Gasol and Dwight.
If Dwight was to land in Houston and not re-up, he'd remain on Dallas' summer-of-'13 radar. But this? This would kill that Dallas dream while simultaneously locking the Mavs into being on-paper inferior to another West rival.
But before you panic … there must be more bricks and mortar.
*Howard must verbally commit to re-signing with this trade partner. LA isn't going to sacrifice Bynum for Dwight to be a rent-a-player. I'm still surprised Houston is apparently willing to take such a risk. Of course, Houston's gamble doesn't include risking giving up Bynum, himself a franchise-player-caliber center.
Howard's media friend saying Dwight will consent to staying long-term isn't the same as Howard telling Kupchak that. And probably worth noting, as Howard has flip-flopped so childishly on a series of commitments: His "consent'' is not his bond. His "promise'' to sign with LA, if that ever comes, it's not the same as a signature.
UPDATE: On Thursday came the "sources'' info about Dwight agreeing to re-up with the Lakers. Now it's Friday ... and Dwight's agent says there is no such promise and that his client will enter FA next summer ... Meanwhile, the Lakers are saying they know of no such commitment either way.
*Howard isn't in charge here. The Magic are in charge.
How, exactly, does Bynum heading to Cleveland with Varejao and a package heading to Orlando make the Magic better than they are today? Is that the best deal Orlando has on the table? Is it the best deal Orlando will ever have on the table?
*The team getting Howard (in this scenario, the Lakers) and the key player involved (Bynum) has to agree to give up the farm – or, at least, should be persuaded to by Orlando. Bynum is destined for free agency next year as well. Is he willing to re-sign with Cleveland? Can the Lakers be forced to give up more than just Bynum? Will they agree to do so?
Lakers fans have every right to celebrate this development. Mavs fans have every right to hate it. And what of Magic fans?
Can they celebrate the possibility of dumping the Hedo Headache? Will they really convince themselves that the post-Dwight Era will be brighter? Brooklyn's Lopez wasn't enough. Houston's pick package wasn't enough. Is this enough?
Here's some free advice for Orlando: Look at your calendar. It's not February yet.
I fail to see the Magic urgency here … and admittedly, maybe that's because I know Dallas has visited with Orlando about Dwight but doesn't seem to be making much (leaked-to-the-media) headway. But let me repeat a take from above and see if you're with me:
The Magic are in charge.
For a moment there, Orlando – frustrated by the Dwightmare -- seemed willing to send Howard to Brooklyn in what would've been a horribly lopsided trade. Then the Magic pulled back … maybe realizing there is no urgency. Training camp is not on the horizon. Game 1 is not on the horizon. And most importantly, the trade deadline in February is basketball miles away.
Patience is a virtue here, maybe in different ways, for the teams who are not excited by Dwight-to-LA. That means the Mavs and the Magic.
For Orlando, tell me why they don't inform Dwight that they're expecting to come to training camp and expecting him to say nothing about trades, nothing denigrating to the Magic at all? Why don't they tell him that if he doesn't come to camp and give full effort with that familiar grin on his face, he'll be suspended without pay and fined? Why don't they play a game of Chicken with Howard – almost encouraging him to "hold out'' … while losing an absurd number of games in the first half of the season, making him the public villain … yet not at all negatively impacting his true basketball value to suitors … all the while steamrolling south towards the most pingpong balls in the 2013 Draft?
In the end, you'll get the most handsome package, because you waited. You'll get public sentiment on your side, because you waited. And you'll quite likely get the first pick in the draft (plus somebody's bucket of more picks), because you waited. Patience.
For the Mavs, the idea of Dwight-to-LA it means "Plan Powder'' likely stays in place. Yes, "patience'' in dual play again, along with competitiveness, which I believe will remain the case with this year's "Dirk and Depth'' team.
Oh, there might be a Cuban temptation to shift gears and assemble a team of players who are a tier under "superstardom.'' (See, Iguodala, Andre.) But how many Iggys would it take to overtake Kobe/Nash/Gasol/Dwight? Or Durant/Westbrook/Harden? Or LeBron/Wade/Bosh?
No Deron or Dwight this summer. What about a big fish next summer? How about landing one the summer after that?
We don't like waiting. The Mavs don't like waiting. But as they take their swings at the Derons and the Dwights (and yes, they are doing so) … short of following the Knicks fans who are defecting to the Nets … what choice to we have? What choice do they have?
If Dwight goes to the Lakers, "Plan Powder'' might be more necessary than ever. … and a more patient, more painful wait than ever, too.
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