The Dwight Howard drama

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard sits on the bench during the second quarter against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on March 8, 2012 in Chicago. The Magic won 99-94. UPI/Brian Kersey

Drama queen Dwight Howard generated quite a bit of attention yesterday as contradictory reports surfaced as to whether he would stay in Orlando through next season. Now it looks like he’s staying, but who knows.

Dwight Howard informed Orlando Magic management late Wednesday night that he wants to stay with the team through next season and will not opt out of his contract, according to sources close to the situation.

Howard plans to sign a waiver of the early termination option in his contract Thursday morning. Until both Howard and his agent sign the waiver, the Magic will assume he is not staying and go ahead with their plans to trade him before Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET deadline, sources said.

By signing the waiver, Howard would remain under contract with the Magic through the 2012-2013 season.

Of course this means nothing until Howard signs the paperwork Anything can still happen.

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Lamar Odom traded to the Mavs

Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzski, right, goes up to block a shot off Los Angeles Lakers’ Lamar Odom in the second half of Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals on May 4, 2011. The Mavericks defeated the Lakers 93-81and lead the best-of-seven playoff series 2-0. UPI/Christine Cotter

The Dallas Mavericks acquired Lamar Odom from the Los Angeles Lakers, which will have ripple effects throughout the NBA as teams try to finalize rosters in this chaotic period following the NBA lockout. Above you see a photo of Odom battling Dirk Nowitzski last year in the NBA playoffs. Instead of working to get revenge for the Lakers, Odom will now be a crucial part of the Dallas effort to return to the NBA finals.

This trade signals the end of the bizarre saga surrounding the Chris Paul trade that was rejected by David Stern. That controversial decision has rocked the NBA, and now we’ll be hearing about it over and over again as New Orleans tries to unload Paul to another team. The Lakers decided to back out of the talks rather than submit a new trade from Chris Paul to the league, and in dealing Odom put an abrupt end to that scenario. Meanwhile, the Lakers now seem to be focusing their attention on acquiring Dwight Howard in a deal that would involve Andrew Bynum.

As for the Mavericks, this trade for Odom became possible when they decided to work a deal with the New York Knicks when it became clear they would be losing center Tyson Chandler to the Knicks. That gave the Mavs an $11 million trade exception which they then used to acquire Odom. Odom made it clear he didn’t want to leave LA, but the powers that be clearly decided to go in another direction.

Dallas has more moves to make as it reworks in roster in the wake of losing Chandler. Chandler was a very important piece of their championship puzzle, but he’s the kind of player that can be replaced. Dallas is now one of the teams that might get a shot at landing Dwight Howard as the Orlando Magic have permitted them along with the Lakers and the New Jersey Nets. There’s also buzz out there that Vince Carter will land in Dallas as well. Carter can still score, but he’s not the kind of player one thinks of to help a championship team. Maybe he’ll be better in a reduced role.

The Dwight Howard sweepstakes will be the next big story that will have ripple effects around the league. We’ll see how serious Dallas is in that contest.

Should the Lakers pursue Dwight Howard?

Orlando Magic’s center Dwight Howard (L) drives against Los Angeles Lakers’ center Andrew Bynum during first half NBA basketball action in Orlando, Florida, February 13, 2010. REUTERS/Kevin Kolczynski (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Kevin Pelton of ESPN says not so fast. (Insider subscription required, unfortunately.)

Should Howard make it clear that he wants to leave Orlando when his contract expires, the Lakers will be a logical trade destination because of the bright lights of L.A. and their ability to offer Andrew Bynum to the Magic. In the long run, making Howard the latest superstar center to wear Forum blue and gold would be a way for the Lakers to prepare for a future in which Kobe Bryant is no longer the team’s go-to player. Still, the transition would be painful in the short term, depending on what the Lakers had to deal in such a scenario.

Behind Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, post depth has long been a weakness for the Lakers. To get Howard, they’d likely have to surrender two of their three stalwarts. The Lakers have been able to survive for stretches without Bynum by playing Gasol and Odom heavy minutes, but that has taken its toll over time and going with just two reliable big men for an entire season would be difficult.

There’s a saying… don’t cut off your nose to spite your face. And that’s exactly what the Lakers would be doing if they did not seize the opportunity to trade for Dwight Howard, whether it costs some combination of Bynum, Gasol or Odom or not.

Howard represents a life after Kobe for the Lakers and giving up front court depth is a small price to play for that long-term positioning. Bynum would almost surely be involved in any potential deal for Howard, so the question is whether or not it’s worth giving up Gasol or Odom to get the Magic to bite. To me, that’s a no-brainer. Make the deal and then sign someone like Kurt Thomas to backup your big men.

Depth on the front line is hard to come by but so are bona fide franchise centers. Do the deal.

Should Team A trade Player X?

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard reacts after the Magic defeated the Miami Heat in their NBA basketball game in Miami, Florida March 3, 2011. REUTERS/Joe Skipper (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

ESPN recently ran a piece where it asked TrueHoop bloggers whether or not Orlando, New Jersey, New Orleans and Phoenix should trade their star players this offseason. I thought I’d chime in with my own thoughts:

Dwight Howard

This has to be a gut call from GM Otis Smith — he knows Howard better than any member of the media and if he believes his superstar wants to stay, then he should do everything in his power to make it happen. Only I don’t know how he gets the Magic back in the fold as a true contender given the available pieces he has to move. There has been one personnel mistake after another since Orlando’s appearance in the 2009 Finals. Just like Chris Bosh and LeBron James, the writing is on the wall, isn’t it? Dwight Howard is leaving, and if Smith can acquire someone with the upside of Andrew Bynum in the process, that might be the Magic’s best bet to jump start the rebuilding process.

Deron Williams

Of course the Nets should hold onto Williams. He’s a franchise point guard and with Brook Lopez in tow and a load of cap space, the soon-to-be Brooklyn Whatevers are poised to make a big jump in the standings. Mikhail Prokhorov’s management team has done a nice job thus far, though I have no idea why they gave Travis Outlaw $7 million a year. Without that albatross of a contract, the Nets would be even better position to make a splash in free agency and surround Williams with the wings that he needs to be successful.

Chris Paul

This is a unique situation, what with the NBA owning the Hornets and all. One of ESPN’s bloggers said the “fair” thing to do is let CP3 walk, but that’s not the best move for the franchise. I think they should offer Paul for Russell Westbrook straight up. That may not be the first step on the road to a championship, but it’s probably the best deal the Hornets will get. Plus, no one will look at Westbrook funny when he takes 30 shots and turns the ball over six times per game. (Or how about Paul for Eric Gordon? New Orleans needs a good young star to build around.) Bottom line? I don’t think there’s much of a chance of Paul re-upping after the season, so New Orleans should get as much in return as possible while they still can.

Steve Nash

Forget all this talk about Nash retiring a Sun. That can’t be what’s most important to him. He must want to taste the Conference Finals again, so Phoenix should trade him to a playoff team that can offer draft picks and/or a good young player in return. What’s the point in letting Nash’s career die a slow death on a team that’s going nowhere? Stop being selfish, Phoenix Suns. Free Steve Nash.

Who is the best rebounder in the NBA?

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love (42) holds back Dallas Mavericks forward Brian Cardinal (C) in front of Timberwolves’ Michael Beasley (R) during the first half of their NBA basketball game in the Target Center in Minneapolis, March 7, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Miller (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Over the past few weeks, I’ve tackled the MVP race, triple-dozens, point guard characteristics and three-point shooters, and now it’s time to take a look at rebounding.

To be eligible, a player has to meet the following criteria:

1. He must appear in at least 50 games.
2. He must play in at least 24.0 minutes a game.

I took the top 30 players in terms of Total Rebounding Rate (the number of rebounds a player gets as a percentage of total available rebounds available while he’s on the floor) and plotted Offensive Rebounding Rate (ORR%) against Defensive Rebounding Rate (DRR%).

Here is the list of eligible players (in alphabetical order): Andrew Bogut, Carlos Boozer, Kwame Brown (yes, Kwame Brown), Marcus Camby, Tyson Chandler, DeMarcus Cousins, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Pau Gasol, Marcin Gortat, Blake Griffin, Chuck Hayes, Roy Hibbert, J.J. Hickson, Nene Hilario, Al Horford, Dwight Howard, Kris Humphries, Serge Ibaka, Josh Smith, Al Jefferson, Amir Johnson, DeAndre Jordan, David Lee, Kevin Love, JaVale McGee, Greg Monroe, Lamar Odom, Emeka Okafor and Zach Randolph.

Below is the chart. As always, click on it to see a bigger version.

Read the rest of this entry »

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