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The Inbounds: The vanishing trade offer for Dwight Howard act

Aug 16, 2012, 10:00 AM EST

Los Angeles Lakers Introduce Dwight Howard Getty Images

Welcome to The Inbounds, touching on a big idea of the day. It could be news, it could be history, it could be a tangent, it could be love. OK, it’s probably not love. Enjoy.

If one were to really want to, you could find out what exactly the Magic were offered for Dwight Howard for themselves.

If you’re smart, crafty, lucky, and persistent, you can drag out enough information from someone surround the situation to get you an answer. And that answer will satisfy the requirement of knowing “what the Magic could have had for Howard.”

It doesn’t mean it’s the truth.

There are reporters who know. I’m not one of them. But there are some. A few have the entire story, I’m sure, but can’t report on the details due to circumstances. So instead we get half and quarter-truths. But the one thing that seems more and more apparent is that if there were better offers still on the table for the Magic when they pulled the trigger, they were not cognizant those offers were legitimate. And in that situation, that’s a failure of the trade partners to convey their offers.

On Wednesday, SI.com reported that sources outside the Rockets had a drastically different perception of what was available for Howard from Houston than what has been reported in regards to their offer. The “pick two” of Jeremy Lamb-Terrence Jones-Royce White component along with the three draft picks was off the table.

That shfit in perception damages a pretty popular argument that was made after the trade Friday. “They could have had a better offer and they just turned it down for this!”

As if Rob Hennigan is purposefully going to reject a better offer. These types of things aren’t rocket science. It’s establishing what the best package is with players, picks, and contracts. If Brook Lopez were on his rookie deal, it would have bee done months ago, even if the Nets had tampered with Orlando.

But that’s the perception. It was an impossible trade, and when teams started to bail and prepare for the season, something had to be done to get out from under the knife of dealing with Howard once the season started. That situation was untenable. Not for the front office, they knew they were doomed. But it’s not fair to a roster of players to have them train for camp not knowing if they were going to be on the team, going to be training for the playoffs, or just training.

The truth is, in all this he-said-he-said, both sides walked away from the deal with the perception they couldn’t get what they wanted. Both sides were right, at one point or another. But these talks shift moment to moment, and when the opportunity for a legimate deal comes through that accomplishes the Magic’s goals, it has to be taken. And if you have a better offer? It is your job to put away the efforts to establish leverage and to make it clear that no deal should be consummated without first checking with you. The stakes are too high. You should make it clear you want a chance to respond. But the posturing is always more important than the tactics.

Everyone’s always talking to everyone. There are very few secrets, but ther’s also very little real news. If your job was to improve the trade wth talk, wouldn’t you do a fair amount of talking?

The Houston and Brooklyn deals are the most often cited as alternatives to what the Magic walked away with. But the offers cited are never given dates, or if they are, they’re not reported as the “last available offer.” Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez had to agree to sign-and-trades had the offer been accepted by the Magic, who were tired of being jerked around by the Nets and Howard.

The Magic were never going to win in this trade. It was an impossibility. But they moved some salary, got some players they can build around or trade again. They picked up a wider selection of picks, which is crucial to judging this. Houston offered the Raptors and their own pick, yes. But with the Raptors possibly leaping into the playoffs with the possible fall of the Hawks and Magic, and the Rockets likely getting into the playoffs with Howard, the upgrade there is limited. Moreso, the picks would all be in one season, vs. the package Orlando did take, which spreads them out, giving them time to establish a plan and then take advantage of the extra picks.

Mostly, though, this is more about agendas than anything, though. There are agendas at work to make it seem like the Magic didn’t take the best available option. And as has been consistent throughout the process, the Magic have been largely quiet outside of a conversation between Hennigan and SI.com. They know they can’t win anything by revealing what offers they got and setting the record straight. So instead, they’ll simply deal with the jokes and accusations.

But somewhere in all this, the lines of communication broke down, somewhere in this, teams pushed back to try and get the best deal too much. And the result was the Magic simply relenting and getting it over with. So, yes, you can go find out what happened. But ask someone else, you’ll get a different answer. There is no one answer to “What could the Magic have had instead for Dwight Howard.” There is only what is.

Trade offers are liquid, and if nothing is there to catch them, they slip into the cracks and disappear forever, even as their creators cry that they are right there to deal the water they can’t see.

  1. liljere24 - Aug 16, 2012 at 10:10 AM

    That was a brutal read. I didn’t think you could start a sentence with “and”.

    • j0esixpack - Aug 16, 2012 at 12:34 PM

      I’m sure the grammar police have been notified.

      I tend not to let that get in the way of sports commentaries and I doubt the vast majority of readers are bent out of shape about it though.

      I think the very point of this article is that the debating whether the Magic got the “best deal” is pointless.

      The article reflects and affirms this – and provides examples of why such debate is pointless.

      That may not be the in-depth analysis we’ve grown used to in this column but seeing as how many continue to debate how much the Magic “got” it needs to be said.

  2. bandanamac - Aug 16, 2012 at 10:11 AM

    This has to be the only time a player has been traded and we’re STILL talking about what trade could’ve happened. Seriously, the Dwightmare has ENDED, let’s move forward to next season now.

  3. philyeagles5 - Aug 16, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    probably one of the most pointless articles ive ever read. cant believe i read the whole thing.

  4. donrwells3 - Aug 16, 2012 at 10:25 AM

    What were you reporting on here?

    That you didn’t know what to report on?

    “There are reporters who know. I’m not one of them.”

  5. unxpexted1 - Aug 16, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    yo, how tall is Mitch Kupchak. He’s beastin over Howard in this pic!

  6. fanz928 - Aug 16, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    All in all magics took too damn long to make a trade a lot of ideal solutions are gone

    • loungefly74 - Aug 16, 2012 at 11:16 AM

      agree…kinda said the same below (we were writing at the same time!!! hehe)

  7. pop562 - Aug 16, 2012 at 11:13 AM

    What the heck does ther’s mean. I thought they have spell check for things like this.

  8. loungefly74 - Aug 16, 2012 at 11:14 AM

    i think the general rule of trades is the offers get worse and worse as time goes by…that said, (and this is strictly speculation) i think Orlando shifted their paradigm during the talks. i think initially, they wanted to see what grand offers they could get and contend for a playoff spot. the Nets deal seemed to be the best…or maybe getting Bynum from the Lakers. i forgot when this happened but changing the GM played a huge part as well in relation to the team philosophy. when the grand deals were not deemed worthy enough, they waited to see what package of picks would be great. i’m guessing they didn’t like what Houston was offering. after the draft…i think they threw their hands up in the air and just decided to blow up the whole thing and start from scratch…which is what they did.

    (totally different sport…but it reminds me what happened to the cleveland browns during the NFL draft…they were targeting a certain WR..but when he got picked…they decided to go a different route and get a QB…in effect changing the offense picture dramatically…though this shift in philosophy only took place in 15 minutes!!!!)

  9. Chris Fiorentino - Aug 16, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    The biggest fact of this trade is a very simple one…the Lakers traded a very good center for one of the greatest centers of all time pretty much straight-up. Period. Yeah the Sixers got better. Yeah the Nuggets got better. Yeah maybe the Magic did what they needed to do to get worse for now and better for the future. But the Lakers got exponentially better because, again, they traded Bynum for Howard pretty much straight-up. This trade for the Lakers makes the Pao Gasol trade look even.

    Sickening to anyone who doesn’t root for the Lakers.

    • marksp18 - Aug 16, 2012 at 1:44 PM

      The Lakers did not trade for Bynum “pretty-much” straight up. They had to take back Chris Duhon and Earl Clark though which is not something to casually be dismissed. They also gave up a future first round pick (2017) as well which could be anywhere by that time as Kobe and Pau will probably be gone or definitely on their last legs.

      The simple fact is the Lakers had the best player to trade. Why Orlando did not just take Bynum is a mystery. When was the last time a team lost the best player at a position and were able to get back the second best player? That is like the Bulls losing Jordan but being able to get back Drexler.

      Andrew Bynum is a pretty good center already. Many feel he is better offensively than Howard right now. Obviously he is not as good defensively. But he is decent and does block shots.

      Bynum for Howard straight up is not a bad deal at all. That is not robbing Orlando of anything. Orlando would have done very well if they received Bynum in return. Very well indeed.

      People who hate the Lakers will always hate them and there is nothing you can do about it. It is a fact of life. The Lakers were very smart to draft and develop Andrew Bynum. They had the best player available and that is why they got Howard.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 16, 2012 at 4:30 PM

        Spoken like a true Lakers fan!!!!! But in all seriousness, this is nowhere near a comparison between Jordan and Drexler. MAYBE Bynum becomes Drexler(HOF, top-50 player in NBA history, etc). But the FACT is that right now, Howard is already a historically great center. And the Lakers got him for Bynum, widely regarded as the second best center in one of the weakest points for the center position in NBA HISTORY, a 2017 1st round pick(you are seriously going to give that some credence?), and they took on two guys who are being talked about as part of their rotation in Duhon and Clark. So don’t run that nonsense by me.

        The fact is that the Lakers once again fleeced someone…a la when they stole Pao from the Grizzlies. And they will probably win 2 of the next 3 NBA titles.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 16, 2012 at 4:31 PM

        Oh and…

        “Bynum for Howard straight up is not a bad deal at all.”

        LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL.

    • loungefly74 - Aug 16, 2012 at 2:00 PM

      it seems like the Lakers just have a knack to play and show the cards at the right time. you can’t fault them for that. but yeah, i hear ya, they upgraded at the expense of another team’s crisis…they “buy low and sell high”. and i’m a Laker fan saying this.

      • diehardcard - Aug 16, 2012 at 4:53 PM

        It’s more than that. It’s been the league’s goal for a long time to keep the big market teams flush with talent. Unless you really think the Lakers are lucky enough to have turned Darell Imhoff, Archie Clark, and Jerry Chambers into Wilt Chamberlain; Elmore Smith, Brian Winters, Dave Meyers, and Junior Bridgeman into Kareem Abdul Jabbar; Don Ford and Chad Kinch into James Worthy; Gail Goodrich into Magic Johnson, Kwame Brown and Marc Gasol into Pau Gasol, and Bynum into Howard. It’s more than luck. It’s by design.

      • loungefly74 - Aug 17, 2012 at 1:09 PM

        sure…design..luck…whatever the word, the Lakers have a great front office. they go out and catch the “big fish”. hey, shame on the teams that don’t risk trying to make their team better. i give applause to the sixers and nuggets…they did that this year…and miami a couple years back…boston before that.

        i like said, they cash in on other team’s crisis’ (i’ll go into more detail), …wilt for example, was pissed at the Sixers’ front office which led to him wanting a trade. LA is a desirable location for non-basketball reasons as well, that was important to wilt. KAJ wanted to go to the east or west coast. not sure if the Knicks tried to get him but again, the Lakers took advantage. well…with worthy, the 1979 pick (that turned into Kinch) was valuable at the time of the trade, the lakers were bad. the trade happened a few years before anyone knew how it would play out…huh, further proving how the lakers gambled wisely…with magic…they had to get a 1st rd in return for goodrich for compensation…with gasol, well a lot of similarities to the howard trade. gasol was not happy in memphis and wanted out, the grizz decided to go the route of dumping salary and attaining draft picks. the griz GM at the time said no other team was aggrassive as the lakers were on getting gasol…

        so…i wasn’t sure if you were insinuating back hand crooked deals took place…i’m not a conspiracist. huh..the Lakers are “that dude who comes along to that woman who just broke up with their boyfriend/husband…and take advantage”…

  10. mikey1977 - Aug 16, 2012 at 11:53 AM

    Fanz928….it’s “The Magic”….not “Magics” and I disagree with your post as well.

  11. klownboy - Aug 16, 2012 at 12:18 PM

    This trade will help the Sixers more than the Lakers. Having said that, this should vault LA to the #2 team in the West behind OKC…

    http://wp.me/p1gCK6-rH

  12. magicbucs - Aug 16, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    @ marksp18……
    THE MAGIC DIDNT GET BYNUM BECAUSE HE WASNT GOING TO RESIGN WITH ORLANDO. That’s no mystery. Plus Bynum is almost as crazy as metta world peace and as big of a cry baby as Dwight Howard. Magic want to rebuild and as a magic fan I’m ok with that. I don’t want to be fighting for an 8th spot and get outed in first round every year. Draft young players and since Hennigan drafted harden and ibaka when he was asst gm in OKC, you know he’ll be trying to sign those 2 to add you nice young talent.

  13. rjmarrella - Aug 16, 2012 at 6:47 PM

    I don’t read your blog very often, but when I do I am always impressed. Great post above! I enjoyed it!

  14. paulhargis53 - Aug 16, 2012 at 9:24 PM

    Way to prove you’re clueless in 2 sports, lounge. Not only do you know nothing about the NBA, no you have to show your ignorance about the NFL. The Browns changed their whole philosophy?!
    They have different scenarios planned out way in advance for just such an outcome. You dope.

    You should probably just stick to your coloring book and crayons.

    You’re way out of your element when it comes to sports talk.

  15. diablito0402 - Aug 17, 2012 at 12:50 AM

    Some of the best and funniest comments ever,,i love it when we gang up on the writers, hahaha

  16. lmvs2012 - Aug 17, 2012 at 3:43 AM

    Can ya’ll just shut he fhuk!…r u guyz getting paid by reading this article? I guess no? u guyz arguing this dumb! Article bout bynum,howard bout lakers,magic…its just a waste of time! So dummbbbbbb dude!…just shut the fhuk up and watch basket ball when it starts or if ya’ll read article just dont post comments….really its a waste if time geezzzzzzzzz!

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