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The implications of rumors regarding the disintegration of Dwight Howard’s interest in the Lakers by the top dog Kobe Bryant

Feb 5, 2012, 9:30 AM EDT

Kobe Bryant Dwight Howard Getty Images

OK, I’m going to tell you a story, and at the end of it, we’re going to try and make heads or tails out of what’s actually going on. Because it in no way can be what is reportedly going on because if it is, then Metta World Peace is no longer the craziest individual on the Lakers.

Let’s start here.

So for the last few months, the Nets have been considered the prohibitive favorite to land Dwight Howard, according to some sources. While a few have held out for what seems to be the more likely scenario involving the Lakers, as L.A. has players of actual value to trade, there has been a cacophony saying the Nets hold all the cards. But for many, the Lakers, who typically, you know, get who they want, are going to be considered a major player to the end. But then a few things happened.

It started innocently enough, with Larry Coon for ESPN.com burying the lede on something that seems fairly significant.

But the biggest impediment to a Lakers deal isn’t related to the trade rules — it’s overcoming the resistance on the part of both teams. Magic owner Rick DeVos has been reluctant to allow his team to lose a second franchise center to the Lakers (after Shaquille O’Neal in 1996), and the Lakers don’t want to pay such a steep price for what could amount to less than a season of Howard’s services. A source close to the negotiations says Howard’s representatives warned the Lakers that Howard would opt out of his contract and test the free-agent market next summer — which has the Lakers’ brass understandably nervous.

via Playing out the Dwight Howard scenarios – ESPN.

Huh. Alright. So that would mean that a major player, looking for a warm-weather big market with opportunities for a player who loves the camera more than anything outside of his momma has notified the Los Angeles Lakers that he would choose to test free agency despite every inherent advantage granted to the Lakers in terms of money and years for Howard. Seems odd. Coon’s not exactly a major news breaker, but that almost lends credibility here; he’s not going to throw out something like this if it doesn’t have legs, and his reputation as a shrewd evaluator of league mechanics is impeccable.

But that’s not where this story ends.

HoopsWorld followed up.

The Lakers have already been informed that Howard won’t sign a long-term deal in Los Angeles, according to sources close to the situation. If the Lakers were to trade for Howard, he would opt out and test free agency. Howard’s interest in Los Angeles has always been overstated, mainly because he doesn’t want to follow in Shaquille O’Neal’s footsteps and he doesn’t want to go through another rebuilding process anytime soon. With Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol in their thirties, Howard would be reaching his prime just as his All-Star teammates were declining.

via NBA PM: Howard Forcing His Way to Nets? | HOOPSWORLD | Basketball News & NBA Rumors.

Now that’s a bit stronger. We’ve evolved from “Howard won’t sign an extension” which we’ll get to in a minute, to “Howard doesn’t want to deal with the Lakers’ rebuild process after Kobe and Pau’s decline. That’s a significant jump there, for a lot of reasons.

Now’s where the nutso part comes in.

HoopsWorld followed up with this:

Source close to Dwight Howard on why he’s leaning away from the Los Angeles Lakers: “Kobe messed it up. That’s all I can say for now.”Sat Feb 04 05:11:40 via Twitter for BlackBerry®


Wait, what?

And as we spiral further and further from mainstream sources and the inherent power of credibility that comes with said mainstream standing, we reach RealGM.com.

While the Lakers were easily the team Howard thought about most in the summer, his desire to play for the Lakers changed after a conversation with Kobe Bryant, a source said.

Howard envisioned going to the Lakers and forming a devastating one-two punch with Bryant. But Bryant had other plans for how Howard would be incorporated into the Lakers.

Bryant told Howard that he wanted him to come to Los Angeles and help him win two more championships, but not as an understudy. He wanted Howard to be the team’s third option behind himself and Pau Gasol, according to a source. Bryant tried to sell Howard on being his “Tyson Chandler” and made it clear that Los Angeles would be his, but only once Bryant decided he was done playing.

via Lakers Slip In Pursuit Of Dwight Howard – RealGM Wiretap.

I’m going off the rails on a crazy train.

Now, I’m going to level with you. A rumor about a conversation that Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard reportedly had in which Bryant told the reigning DPOY and MVP candidate best center in the league that he would be a third-option “Tyson Chandler” is not exactly breaking hard news. There’s no way to verify the accuracy of this account even if Howard does wind up on the Nets.

But we’ve got a weird pattern, here.

The Coon article on ESPN. The follow-up. And the follow-up to the follow-up.

So what are we looking at here? We’re never going to know, but we can theorize.

Some possibilities.
1.  The truth. The Lakers have blown their shot at Howard, he does want the Nets, Kobe did grate on Howard and tell him he was going to be a third-wheel, effectively killing the franchise’s best shot at a future beyond his tenure and putting his ability to win a sixth ring in jeopardy. After all, the Knick needed 25 points and 7 assists from Jeremy Lin to beat the Nets, Chris Paul is a Clipper, Lamar Odom is a Maverick, the Cavaliers are a fringe playoff team and Tom Thibodeau played Luol Deng 41 minutes in a blowout win over Milwaukee in his first game back from a wrist injury. So why not throw one more crazy-ass thing on the fire?

2. Subterfuge. Is it certain that all three individuals received their info from the same source? No. Is it possible? Yes. And if so, there’s likely an agenda behind it. It would behoove the Magic to chill Lakers talk in part to get questions about L.A. to simmer down. The Nets clearly would want to create a perception of stress between the two parties because if they don’t get Howard, they’re going back to the basketball equivalent of the stone age. It would in no way mean that those reporting this story are off, simply that the story being spun is directed by agenda and not, you know, open dialogue. This isn’t anything shocking. But given the names of those involved you have to think they thought this through somewhat before going with it.

3. A misunderstanding. There’s a level of  interpretation involved here and it’s important. Coon notes in his article the particulars of the new CBA and its effect on Howard’s situation. In short, an extend-and-trade, a sign-and-trade, and a trade-and-extend all limit the amount of money Howard can gain in free agency. The most money, and best situation for him is to go where he wants, then opt-out, then re-sign at the max for five years. That gets him the most money, strongest raise platform, and and most stability of any option. Basically him opting out of his last year and into free agency with the Lakers is less an indictment on where they stand as a franchise and more as a product of how the CBA is structured. The jump from that piece of information to “Dwight doesn’t want to play in L.A.” is a short one.

You’d probably like this if I informed you the answer to this riddle. But I don’t know. And you don’t know. And a lot of reporters don’t know. A lot of people have sources, a lot of people are talking, and Howard’s still in Orlando. But this latest series of information means that things are only going to get crazier in the next month and a half.

  1. kvanhorn87 - Feb 5, 2012 at 9:50 AM

    25000 words that I could sum up in 3, Howard to Sixers. How did I come to that conclusion from the story? 1) I got really confused reading all of this 2) he would be the teams only star 3) they would offer him a box for all nets games he wants.

    • chuckj1234 - Feb 5, 2012 at 7:16 PM

      I am so sick and tired of Kobe’s arrogance and huge ego. If I was the lakers I would trade him to anyone outside of LA.

  2. AlohaMrHand - Feb 5, 2012 at 10:31 AM

    when all is said and done,Dwight Howard will be a Chicago Bull.Think about it,send Joekim Noah who would be popular there because of his days at Florida along with a few draft picks and whatever players makes it cap friendly and then you’ll have a Dwight Howard Derrick Rose combo that will be the Heats nemesis for years to come.

  3. dylude - Feb 5, 2012 at 10:41 AM

    Dwight Howard to Houston:
    Dwight / Hedo / Reddick for Martin / Hill / Thabeet / Flynn / Minnesota’s 2nd rounder / NY’s 1st rounder

    Then….

    Deron Williams to Houston:
    Williams / Brooks for Lowry / Scola / T Williams

    Boom! Dwight / Patterson / Morris / Lee / Williams as the starting 5 and Dwight will stay in Houston.

    I can dream cant I?!

    • khuxford - Feb 5, 2012 at 11:02 AM

      How much joy does a wholly unrealistic dream bring you, though?

  4. netsdaily - Feb 5, 2012 at 10:50 AM

    Let’s not limit ourselves. I would suggest first of all that Jarrod Rudolph and Alex Kennedy were not the first to report the Kobe issue. The LOS ANGELES TIMES, which is far more credible than either, reported it on January 19. Rudolph and Kennedy are derivative, not original.

    “Kobe Bryant has had at least one in-depth phone conversation with Howard recently, even discussing how Howard might fit in with the Lakers’ scheme. One person with knowledge of the conversation said Howard came away feeling as if he wouldn’t be the Lakers’ top option, for obvious reasons. It’s Bryant’s team.”

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/basketball/nba/lakers/la-sp-lakers-fyi-20120120,0,4309360.story#.TxlqHexW2gg.twitter

    It should also be noted that Coon is not the only ESPN reporter to suggest that Howard prefers the Nets. In a January 25 interview on ESPN Radio, Broussard laid out why. We transcribed it. Here’s one quote: “Deron has recruited Dwight. During the lockout, remember, you could talk all you wanted, recruit all you wanted and he certainly used the opportunity to do that and he’s told Dwight about those business opportunities. Deron enjoys the notion of being the face of the franchise. Obviously, it would be along with Dwight as if they were going to go to Brooklyn as a tandem.”

    http://www.netsdaily.com/2012/1/30/2757327/broussard-nets-a-promising-situation-for-howard-williams-but

    Broussard also wrote in ESPN Insider on February 1 that it was time for Howard to up his request for a trade to the Nets to a demand, writing “Virtually everyone knows Howard will not re-sign with Orlando next season. He wants Brooklyn/New Jersey, Dallas or Los Angeles, but mostly Brooklyn.”

    http://tinyurl.com/7pxvt88

    Bucher has said basically the same thing.

    We know how much fun it can be for writers to dump on the Nets. It’s also not very original or particularly edifying. The Howard-likes-Nets story is a better one than Howard-doesn’t-Lakers. It may not happen, but it’s certainly more interesting.

  5. pukpokito - Feb 5, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    I’m just glad he won’t go to the Lakers.So sick and tired of the Lakers.

  6. jagwar73 - Feb 5, 2012 at 11:09 AM

    Dwight needs to play with a closer, because he can’t!

  7. halflight420 - Feb 5, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    dwight to the 76ers would be interesting, but i feel like the 76ers run primarily on team chemistry and he could screw that up

  8. jimsjam33 - Feb 5, 2012 at 11:32 AM

    Kobe is like one old those old silent movie stars who doesn’t have it any more . The Lakers are not going to win any championships in the near future with him on the team . He thinks the LA fans still love him and it’s going to go on forever . It’s not . Blake Griffin , CP3 and DeAndre Jordan are taking over Los Angeles with a fresh brand of BB . If the Clippers win the NBA title this year ( and they might with the addition of Kenyon Martin ) the Lakers are going to bust a gut to get Dwight Howard . Kobe , Gasol , and Bynum are only 3 players on a team of 15 . The Lakers have no guards and their small forward position is mediocre at best .

    • mytthor - Feb 5, 2012 at 12:09 PM

      How does Howard change the fact that the Lakers have no guards and mediocre small forwards?

      1st in scoring, 4th in PER. Kobe sure is done for!

  9. jimsjam33 - Feb 5, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    Think ! Where does the rest of the team stand in the scoring list ? Kobe shoots a ton ( 20 to 40 shots a game ) to get his average . That’s why Gasol and Bynum have complained about little or no touches . You can’t win a championship shooting 20 footers all game long . The Lakers lost last night because after Brown was ejected , Kobe took it upon himself ( like usual ) to take all the shots and not pass the ball . The Lakers offense is give Kobe the ball and everybody get out of the way . It has to change now or next season you won’t recognize any of the Laker players except Bynum and thatm includes Kobe . They’ll be gone .

  10. gmsalpha - Feb 5, 2012 at 12:57 PM

    I can see why Howard would be frustrated and going back and forth between the options he has. Los Angeles has the climate and size he wants. It’s the perfect place to play, but if he wants to be his own man, he can’t go there because Shaq went there. I feel like his indecision is definitely real. He’d have to win 4 rings to upstage Shaq, and I don’t see any way that would happen in Los Angeles.

    If he wants to win, he needs to go to Chicago. If I could dream, I’d find a way to go to Miami. Obviously it’ll never happen, but trade Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem for Howard, straight up. The Heat have a lot better chemistry with Wade out of the lineup. Bosh plays much much better without him. Howard doesn’t really need the ball.

    I know it’s sacrilege to talk about trading Dwyane Wade, but a Heat team of LeBron, Dwight, and Chris Bosh would be multiple champsionships, easy.

    Not to mention Miami is a big International market and it suits his weather preference.

    The only other option that makes sense is to wait until free agency and go to Dallas. Dirk has some good years left, especially if his load can be lightened. They’ll have a few rings, a la Tim Duncan and David Robinson. Plus there’s always the fact that D Will is from Dallas. Get Dwight, Deron, and Dirk in Dallas and it really is “Big D”.

    Unfortunately I tend to think he’ll end up in New Jersey and it will be a disaster for everyone involved.

  11. jimeejohnson - Feb 5, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    OKC.

  12. crillbill - Feb 5, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    Kobe has gone diva.

    • bayoubauer - Feb 5, 2012 at 3:31 PM

      Amen. It’s never been about winning for Kobe, it’s always been about Kobe for Kobe. If there’s a scenario where the remote possibility exists that Kobe will not have 100 % of the spotlight shining on him, Kobe will shut it down even if said scenario gives your team a great opportunity to win championships.

  13. mytthor - Feb 5, 2012 at 1:16 PM

    Bad news, Dwight. You would be the third best offensive player on that team, and therefore SHOULD be the third option.

  14. darnellbornock - Feb 5, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    This is all very fascinating. Actually, it’s not. It’s all very silly and a great example of how the athletes have lost touch with the fans. If I didn’t live in a NBA city, I probably wouldn’t pay much attention at all to the league, which the owners, players, agents, and most of all , the commissioner are turning into a joke.

  15. mytthor - Feb 5, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    Maybe Kobe is trying to end this stupid Howard thing so the Lakers can go get Sessions and see what happens.

  16. jgray30 - Feb 5, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    Hell isnt DH the 3rd option in Orlando?? I mean he has absolutely no offensive game. What did he expect? Hes no first option for any nba team. Screw DH let him go to the nets and they wont be any better than the magic was with DH. Lakers go get a point guard, thats all u need.

  17. jgray30 - Feb 5, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    Oh and Kmart coming of the bench for the clippers isnt a gauranteed title. his 15 maybe 20 minutes a game being undersized mist nigjts wont make much of a difference. Tough player tho.

  18. namriverrat69 - Feb 5, 2012 at 10:42 PM

    There have been so many times the Lakers have performed like a finely tuned engine while Kobe is resting on the bench. Kobe has done a good job of growing into a good team leader but he can’t help himself from getting in the way of the fluidness of a real team concept when everything always runs through Kobe. He had done better for a few years but as the team suffers he tries to do too much. He is his own worst enemy and can’t see it. Thing about all this I like Kobe. He is such a great talent.

    I had the opportunity to watch Wayne Gretzky every night for years in LA. What a great leader. He brought out the best in his team mates and fed off of their success. Some of the best times of my life were watching Wayne Gretzky play. He was magic.

  19. omniusprime - Feb 6, 2012 at 10:41 AM

    I’m glad that Kobe possibly nixed the Howard deal. Only a total idiot like a sports pundit (Matt Moore) would think that bringing Howard to the Lakers now would be a good deal for the Lakers. Howard is nothing but StuporMan, a cream puff who always folds at crunch time, just look at how pathetic the Magic have been in some games this year. Howard is grossly overrated as a winner. Really Howard would only be incrementally better than Bynum so having to give away two great players to get one who’s not as great as he’s made out to be would be a truly stupid move for the Lakers.

    If Howard is too stupid to listen to Kobe, who has won 5 rings to Howard’s Goose egg, then he really isn’t smart enough to play for the Lakers. What the Lakers need is a small young fast point guard to replace Fisher as the starter. Any talk about any other position is just irrelevant blather, but then irrelevant blather is what sports pundits do best – isn’t that correct Matt Moore?

  20. giselleisasucubus - Feb 6, 2012 at 11:51 AM

    I have been told I’m wrong a million times, but the best fit for Howard is Boston. Young pg- check. Focus on defense- check. Enough core players to win now and going forward- check. Warm weather- uhh, no, but it is only half the year, and a guy like KG can sell it to Howard that the cold really isnt a big deal. I love how everyone thought the Celts were dead, that is funny. Not only are they not dead, but they have 3 very young guys(Bradley, Moore, Johnson) who are starting to develop into good players. If Dwight Howard goes into free agency, dont be shocked if he ends up a Celtic.

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