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Report: Nets-Magic Howard deal blew up because of Orlando animosity

Aug 11, 2012, 9:50 AM EDT

Dwight Howard AP

Business is business. But business is conducted by humans, and humans have emotions, like pride, anger, and resentment. And it turns out that what may have sunk a potential Nets-Magic deal wasn’t the deal itself, but how Orlando felt about the Nets. From the New York Daily News:

A league source told the Daily News that a stumbling block in negotiations was lingering animosity stemming from the Magic’s belief the Nets illegally contacted Howard in December without Orlando’s permission. The Nets denied they had met with Howard, and charges were never filed with the league.

via Brooklyn Nets’ Deron Williams lost interest in Dwight Howard sweepstakes well before Thursday’s trade to the Lakers – NY Daily News.

In the same article, Deron Williams says that the Magic “just didn’t want to deal him to (the Nets).”

The reaction from most people is going to be outrage, or disgust, that personal feelings should never get in the way of a deal this important.

My response? There are bigger things at play here.

For starters, the Nets’ deal wasn’t some awe-inspiring package of young players and picks. The picks all came from one team, which was going to be 25-plus with a core of Deron Williams and Dwight Howard. Brook Lopez is a phenomenal talent, but because of his free agency status, was going to end up giving them a sizable contract that was going to be hard to move if Lopez has injury issues or regresses further. Even if Kris Humphries would have been on a $9 million one-year deal as Yahoo Sports reported, 1. Humphries would have to agree to take substantially less than market value (he signed for two-years, $12-million) and 2. you’re still looking at over $20 million going on the books in 2013 for an absolutely wretched team. Even with Marshon Brooks and the cap-clearing, that’s not a good deal. you can argue it was better than what they got, that comes down to how you feel about Lopez, and there are arguments to be made on both sides.

But there’s a bigger point here.

In business, the companies that thrive long-term have a commitment to doing it the right way. You can skirt those tactics for a while, but eventually, the rot gets through your organization and your hubris takes its toll. And there’s something to be said for maintaining your pride. If the Magic legitimately felt that the Nets had tampered with their player, their best player, that’s a huge violation of NBA rules and of NBA managerial conduct. It’s one thing to tamper with your player, it’s another to then continually collude with that player’s camp to ruin all other leverage in regards to other deals and to constantly pressure the team into making the trade. And there’s a lot of evidence that that might have gone on. You can’t blame Howard’s people. It’s their job to fulfill their clients wishes. That’s what their responsibility is, not to the team. But to Howard, and to the Nets, as members of the NBA, there’s a way to conduct business and a way not to. So if Orlando decided it didn’t want to have someone steal their lunch money, then trade their backpack to get a third of that money back, I don’t see how you can blame them.

It’s not about being petty. It’s about conducting yourself in a way that maintains your self-respect. Maybe the Nets did nothing wrong, they certainly have always claimed so. But there were reports about meetings between Prokhorov and Howard prior to Orlando granting teams permission to speak with him. Even if they did nothing wrong, the Magic acted out of self-preservation.

Sometimes you just can’t let people walk all over you, even if it is, “the best thing for you.”

  1. tubal22 - Aug 11, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    I hope Dwight never makes it back from injury. He’s bad for the game. He’s made his millions. Now let someone with some heart take his spot.

    • dls612 - Aug 11, 2012 at 10:27 AM

      I don’t care for him either, but thats a bit cruel don’t ya think?

      • dls612 - Aug 11, 2012 at 10:30 AM

        I’ll get more joy out of it if he’s healthy and never win a title.

      • tubal22 - Aug 11, 2012 at 10:55 AM

        Not saying permanently disabled. But just to where he can’t be in the NBA anymore. He doesn’t deserve it. And he’s made plenty that he should be set for life. So who cares. I for one won’t feel bad if he never plays another game.

    • deadeyedesign23 - Aug 11, 2012 at 11:55 AM

      One can only hope that one day you’ll be so good at something that random people on the internet would want to drag you down as well.

    • cosanostra71 - Aug 11, 2012 at 1:59 PM

      wow really… wishing pain on someone?

    • thesixersbench - Aug 12, 2012 at 1:03 AM

      You sound like a sad, bitter man.

  2. fiyeaglesfiy - Aug 11, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    Respectable that Orlando stood up to the Nets and didn’t let them take advantage of them. Would have set a bad precedent for future dealings. So instead they just let Howard walk all over them and set a bad precedent for the league to give star players what they want at whatever cost.

    • Kevin S. - Aug 11, 2012 at 3:22 PM

      So instead they let the Lakers walk all over them even more. Also, sending Howard to a team on his list, the most celebrated team in the league, a team that instantly becomes one of the top-four teams in the league, isn’t exactly “showing him.”

    • kinggw - Aug 11, 2012 at 4:01 PM

      Its respectable that they took a far worse deal? Don’t let Moore fool you, Orlando got screwed because their new GM is in over his head. The job of a front office is to do what is in the best interests of the team. Hennigan did not do that. The Nets deal was the best deal on the table presented this offseason. Lopez is a quality center with the potential to be an all star. He had an injury plagued last year, but he has averaged 17 and 8 for his career. Brooks is also a potential all star who is still on his rookie deal. Humphries may be a jerk off the court but he is a solid player on the court. The Nets were also willing to take both Turkoglu and Richardson.

      Instead of reloading, Hennigan and the Magic chose to roll the dice and hope they are able to stink for a few years and become OKC East.

      As far as setting a bad precedent, im not sure what you are talking about. Star players have always been able to influence where they end up. That started long before Howard and won’t stop anytime soon. This is on the Magic’s ownership. Howard let them know he wanted to leave a few years ago. If the Magic were smart they would’ve made a deal a year or two ago and got a Deron Williams sized haul.

  3. chadinkc30 - Aug 11, 2012 at 10:09 AM

    Howard has no heart? Why because he didn’t want to be in Orlando anymore? He’s not the first guy to want to leave the team that drafted him & he won’t be the last

    • gmen4life33 - Aug 11, 2012 at 11:15 AM

      There is a right way to do everything. If Howard wanted out of ORL, he should have kept his mouth shut, played out his contract, and then went anywhere he wanted (like Steve Nash did).

      Instead, Howard did countless interviews about what teams he would like to play for (while being a Magic employee), leaked “story angles” through various sources to gain leverage, made excuses to management why he wouldnt resign (thus getting coach fired) and burnt all bridges in Orlando.

      Howard has every right to play where he wants, but only when he is a FA. Problem with Howard and Melo’s approach was that they wanted to pick where they were going before they were FAs, and also wanted max deals, which is unfair. Steve Nash did it the right way, with class, and will be respected by people in the NBA long after he retires. Howard showed he is a 10 yr old when it comes to maturity

    • deadeyedesign23 - Aug 11, 2012 at 11:56 AM

      Apparently “free agency” is a dirty word. Where does labor get off thinking they can choose their employer?

      • thesixersbench - Aug 12, 2012 at 1:05 AM

        He didn’t choose free agency. He chose to re-up for another year and then squirmed out of it. Did you forget?

      • deadeyedesign23 - Aug 12, 2012 at 9:50 AM

        Reupping was stupid, though according to a couple people I’ve the Magic CEO changed his tune dramatically after he had resigned. We won’t ever know what really happened leading up to that deadline. Regardless he was being killed by everyone on here leading up to that so my point stands. Many around here begrudge players their ability to choose a better employer.

    • eventhorizon04 - Aug 11, 2012 at 12:36 PM

      Talk to the kids at the Dwight Howard basketball camp, whose parents paid $200 so their kids could meet Dwight.
      Dwight ended up sending Andrew Nicholson instead (as reported here).

      Meanwhile, at his LA press conference, he talked about how much he enjoyed walking around and seeing the sights (so don’t do the back excuse – he’s not bedridden if he’s spending hours every day playing tourist, he could fly to see the kids if he wanted to).

      • deadeyedesign23 - Aug 11, 2012 at 1:01 PM

        “whose parents paid $200 so their kids could meet Dwight.”

        He offered them all a refund.

      • marksp18 - Aug 11, 2012 at 1:08 PM

        This garbage is being spewed by the simpletons and they have no idea why he did not or could not go.

        No one knows if he has been instructed not to fly. He had his surgery in LA and has been there ever since close by his doctors. So to act like you know that he could have went back to Orlando is disingenuous at best.

  4. manchestermiracle - Aug 11, 2012 at 10:42 AM

    Unlike Moore’s article about Howard learning to shut up, this one accurately portrays how the NBA is a business and the Magic torpedoed themselves by allowing emotions to guide their decision-making process. First Moore blames Howard for destroying the Magic franchise, then does an about-face and places the majority of the blame where it really belongs: On the Magic front office.

    So not letting the Nets “walk all over them” makes some sense, but how does that explain Orlando’s failure to pull the trigger on another deal (Houston? Dallas?) and waiting until desperation time? How is that Howard’s fault? Yes, Howard has a huge ego, like any other ridiculously paid entertainer, but it looks like the suits in Orlando forgot just who puts the fans in their seats and the money in the bank.

    Moore admits (I think) that the Magic weren’t being business-like enough regarding Howard, but didn’t they do pretty much the same thing way back when Shaq wanted out? And a smarter club (Lakers) took advantage of that stupidity, too. So of course we have the whiners on here who blamed Shaq then and Howard now. The Magic did this to themselves and they have no one else looking back from the mirror.

    • eventhorizon04 - Aug 11, 2012 at 12:38 PM

      Howard has been wishy-washy about staying with the Magic.

      If you honestly believe he’s been decisive and up-front about his intentions this entire process, then you have no idea what you’re talking about.

      • manchestermiracle - Aug 11, 2012 at 8:41 PM

        I’m sorry, where did I ever intimate anything at all about Howard except his ego and desire to leave Orlando? Perhaps you should stop trying to read your own opinion into something I wrote because it makes it look like you have no idea what you’re talking about.

    • marksp18 - Aug 11, 2012 at 1:14 PM

      No one has provided any proof that the “rumored” Houston deal was actually offered. Yet fans want to act like it was offered. Why would Houston give all that up to see D12 leave the very next year? If you are a fan of Houston you do not want your GM to give up all those assets to only lose the asset you got back the very next year. It makes no sense and any right thinking person would never do that deal if they were the Houston GM. No way, no how.

      The simple fact is Orlando did not want Lopez. They did not want to pay a center 15 mil per year who cannot even average 7 rebounds per game. That was the biggest problem with the Nets package. And they did not want to try and turn around and move him directly thereafter either. Why should they go through that headache. Yet Net fan will come here and tell you how great Lopez is but constantly wanting the Magic to take him off their hands. Sure he is good. We shall see how he does now that he has been paid and will not have to be the first option on offense.

      Lastly, what about not wanting to trade D12 into the Eastern Conference? I wouldn’t want to trade him to any team in the East if I was Orlando. Forget that. Hurt feelings or not, the Magic did not like the Nets package and the contracts that came with that package.

      • Kurt Helin - Aug 12, 2012 at 9:07 PM

        To be fair, how offers work in the NBA. Assistant gms (and GMs) talk and parameters of a trade are discussed and agreed to before a formal, official offer is made. The Houston offer was one of the things discussed, but it was never formally offered because the Magic said they would reject it if it was.

  5. bchapman2011 - Aug 11, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    I not an NBA GM but I still cannot figure out what Orlando’s thought process was regarding this trade. I realize that Bynum has injury concerns and has a temperment similar to Howard but he is easily the second best center in the game. I will never understand why Orlando did not just do a straight up trade with the Lakers. They would have received Bynum and probably some picks and another player. Orlando could have put some other pieces around Bynum and been a playoff team instantly.

    • rtlguru - Aug 11, 2012 at 1:09 PM

      This is why you are not the gm. Why would the magic want a center who has brittle knees and a horrible attitude and go through the whole free agnecy thing again next year just to be a mediocre playoff team with no chance of landing a franchise player in the draft?

      So many people are missing the point of what the magic did. Their goal was to rebuild. Get enough good young pieces but suck enough to land a top 5 pick the next two years. All the other trades were not better. They would have resulted in years of mediocrity with no chance of landing another dwight or shaq. The nets picks would have been trash bc they would have been a top team for years.

      The magic gm is trying to build a team like the spurs and okc. Suck for a few years and build through the draft.

      This is why stern torpedoed the hornets trade. In retrospect that laker deal was horrible because the hornets would have been a mediocre playoff team with no chance for years. Through the draft and luck their team now has a promising furture.

      • bchapman2011 - Aug 11, 2012 at 2:09 PM

        So the Magic received

        Al Harington……32 year old journyman
        Nikola Vučević…..21 year old unproven commodity
        Arron Afflalo……..26 year old slightly above average guard
        and protected draft picks that will be late 1st round picks

        And you condsider that a trade that will help them rebuild? LOL

      • bchapman2011 - Aug 11, 2012 at 2:19 PM

        By the way it does not matter if Orlando sucks for the next two years and lands the next superstar in the NBA. That player will leave the Magic high and dry for the Lakers just like Shaq and Howard. Enjoy your next superstar as soon as you draft him because we all know they will not be playing in Orlando very long.

      • rtlguru - Aug 11, 2012 at 3:34 PM

        Bc chapman2001:

        Harrington has 1 year left. Was basically a salary dump. The rest of the package is comparable to nets deal : crappy mid to high 1st round picks and some projects.

        No one realizes that the most valuable 1st round picks for orlando are their own. They would not have gotten a Single potential #1 pick from any of the other trades. The “better” trades would make them too good to get a top pick. So yes the trade they just make gives orlando a better chance of rebuilding.

        Look at the small market teams that have contended for titles in recent times. All had top 1 to 3 picks they used to get the franchise player. Duncan, shaq, Howard, Durant, etc.

        yeah you can joke about Orlando always loing their top pick but it’s the only shot they have. Maybe they will get lucky next time and draft a Durant or Duncan who is truly loyal.

        Everyone bashing this trade for Orlando are the same ones who bashed Memphis for giving away pau and stern for veto’ing scola, Martin, and pau. I’m sure all you geniuses would take those 3 over Anthony Davis, rivers, and Eric Gordon right? Oh yeah, the hornets got their future franchise player with their OWN pick by tanking.

  6. dannythebisforbeast - Aug 11, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    Thought we were done with Howard articles for a while or at least a day.

    Something wrong upstairs. Why do you agree to an option year, bad mouth your coach, hug your coach,get your coach fired, then demand a trade. Super crazy nt superman

  7. diablito0402 - Aug 11, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    What you guys dont understand is that orlando didnt want lopez fresh max contract and humphries 2 year 20 something million on their books, and still suck, now they got some scrubbs with expiring contracts..

    • dls612 - Aug 11, 2012 at 12:01 PM

      Would you say that turkoglu contract taught them a lesson!

  8. edwardsro - Aug 11, 2012 at 11:01 AM

    I have no doubt the Russian gangster broke the rules. Good for Orlando for putting their foot down

  9. luckysunday20 - Aug 11, 2012 at 11:03 AM

    If the tampering took place why did the Magic not go through proper NBA channels and fill a complaint? I think the story about the magic wanting to keep him out the east and their division holds more weight than the tampering.

    • hannsta - Aug 11, 2012 at 9:38 PM

      Agree, they probably didn’t want their fans to watch Howard stomp on them at home twice a year lol.

  10. hitem396 - Aug 11, 2012 at 11:18 AM

    deal – unsaved – reloaded – another deal – saved – deleted – reloaded – one more deal – deleted – then superman stays forever MAGICally…

  11. lakerluver - Aug 11, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    “Brook Lopez is a phenomenal talent”. Uhh, ok, if you say so.

  12. rodge1 - Aug 11, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    I wonder who will throw who under-the-bus first this season, Kobe or Dwight after tough losses…

  13. merchie89 - Aug 11, 2012 at 11:52 AM

    Again more PBT writer “perspective” on how the Magic got a good deal or that “they stood up to the big guy and didnt give in”

    WHO CARES! Doesn’t matter if he called my mama a horse’s rear, getting the best deal is what’s important.

    • deadeyedesign23 - Aug 11, 2012 at 11:58 AM

      Yeah I don’t get that either. I don’t think the Nets deal was leaps and bounds better, but it WAS better. Hell the Rockets deal was better. But you showed them Orlando. I’m sure they’ll be tormented by the faint sound of your laughter from the cellar of the East for the next 5 years.

      • scalfor3 - Aug 11, 2012 at 2:00 PM

        the nets deal sucked but the rockets deal was actually pretty good. still have no idea why they turned it down/didnt pursue it more

      • deadeyedesign23 - Aug 11, 2012 at 3:47 PM

        The Nets deal was essentially this one, but with better players coming in than Arron Afflalo.

  14. magicbucs - Aug 11, 2012 at 12:11 PM

    Magic didn’t want Lopez with a big contract and bad feet. It could have been grant hill all over again. Yes the magic office mainly (Otis smith) made mistakes but dwight lied, he’s a liar. Remember how he apologized to the fans and the city for the drama. He said he would make it all better. He was lying! If you wanted to leave, fine. Ask to be traded, don’t flip flop 100 times after you ask to be traded and then lie. Dwight has no balls just big teeth. Coward…. The magic just want to clear up room for the next few years as they build again.

    Oh and shaq left for LA cause they offered him 20 million more $. Back then the magic were a young 5-6 year franchise and didn’t spend $ like they do now.

  15. qwertify - Aug 11, 2012 at 12:14 PM

    The root of all this? Dwight signing his ETO. He should’ve just let the Magic trade him at the deadline last season and play out the rest of the season wherever, then sign with Nets / Mavs / Lakers this summer. But noooo he had to sign that ETO in order to ‘preserve his self-image’. That worked out well, didn’t it?

  16. dylude - Aug 11, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    Another example of why Matt Moore has the best NBA articles on this site.

    • mdterrapins - Aug 11, 2012 at 1:29 PM

      Yupp. This is the best article I’ve ever read on PBT.

  17. exibitsman - Aug 11, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    Brooks Lopaz is a phenomenal talent he get 24 pts 12 reb 3 bocks a
    game

  18. knightrider1755 - Aug 11, 2012 at 1:20 PM

    It’s disingenuous to try to state that Lopez’s max contract was one of the reasons Orlando decided not to deal with the Nets. It is widely known that the Nets strung Lopez out until the very end before giving him that contract in hopes of getting Howard to come to the Nets. As a matter of fact the reason Lopez received the max deal was because Orlando was stalling and Lopez was being pursued by other teams who were willing to pay him the max, e.g. Charlotte. The Nets by not signing Lopez were risking the possibility of going into next season without a center. In essence, Orlando had ample time to make a deal with the Nets if they wanted to but decided not to out of “revenge”? That’s a joke particularly when they settled for getting screwed in this deal by obtaining some role players, three “protected first round draft picks” (fairly useless) and no all-star caliber player to build around for the foreseeable future.

  19. buckeye94 - Aug 11, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    Can the lakers locker room co-exist? Is that possiable granted they have three big time players with Kobe n Nash use to handling the ball while Kobe n Dwight are used to bein go to guys. Dwight may be good but Kobe is great can the two get along is going to be the main key.

  20. fanz928 - Aug 11, 2012 at 5:08 PM

    Orlando screw this up because of illegal visits. Damn

  21. rotaylla - Aug 11, 2012 at 5:21 PM

    ORLANDO MAGIC YOU ARE SCREWED..YOU GOT WHAT YOU DESERVED, NOW YOU AND YOUR INEXPERIENCE GM WILL SUCK IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS, AMEN TO THAT.

  22. jolink653 - Aug 11, 2012 at 8:24 PM

    I heard that DeVos and Martens pressured Hennigan into making this deal, probably because they were sick and tired of dealing with such an immature idiot and wanted to just get it over with…Howard took all their leverage away with how he made everything so public and they had to accept whatever they could get…I didn’t think he’d go to the Nets because the Magic didn’t want to give him what he wanted and I don’t really blame them for it…They should have taken the Rockets package because it would have given them everything they could have wanted and they’ll kick themselves eventually for not doing it

  23. mojosmagic - Aug 11, 2012 at 11:10 PM

    Having Brooks Lopaz on your team while paying him the max is a disaster in the making. Orlando moved Iggy out for the same reason and Philly would never have gotten Bynum if they were unable to do so. Lets see how Lopez handles Bynum on the block.

  24. shockexchange - Aug 12, 2012 at 3:42 AM

    The Shock Exchange.has new found respect for the Magic. You don’t let anybody walk all over you … Ever.

  25. golive4ever - Aug 12, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    Pro sports willl never be fair till players don’t have a choice in where they go. They should go to whoever is willing to pay them the most. That’s why they get millions. Until then the small market teams don’t stand a chance, since players are willing to take pay cuts to play for larger markets. They just make up for that loss of salary in advertisements and apparel sales. Small market teams only have a chance if they draft a great player. Name one great player that was acquired via a trade?

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