Dwight Howard drama leads NBA free agency

I’m guessing most people are sick of hearing about Dwight Howard and the drama he creates. Fans of the Orlando Magic have to be totally disgusted at this point, but this is the modern NBA.

There are plenty of stories of teams like the Lakers and the Rockets going after Howard, but he tells Yahoo! Sports that he’ll only sign an extension with one team.

Orlando Magic star Dwight Howard told Yahoo! Sports he will not re-sign with a team outside his preferred list that trades for him, and emphatically denied that he ever used the term “blackmail” to describe how Magic officials convinced him to waive his early termination option.

As the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and other teams prepare possible trade offers for him, Howard told Yahoo! by phone that, “There’s only one team on my list and if I don’t get traded there, I’ll play the season out and explore my free agency after that.”

Howard wouldn’t specify the team, but multiple league sources believe that it is the Brooklyn Nets.

Naturally this makes it even harder for the Magic to get fair value for Howard, which is probably what he wants.

Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics have resigned Kevin Garnett and are hoping to lock in Ray Allen and Jeff Green to extensions. O.J. Mayo may be a stretch for them as he can get more elsewhere, while Jason Terry could be an option.

Meanwhile, the Toronto Raptors are going all in trying to bring Steve Nash back home to the Great White North.

Here’s an interesting story that gets into the behind-the-scenes drama of Portland’s max contract offer to Roy Hibbert.

One big fish will be Deron Williams who will be choosing from among a number of teams including the Mavs and the Nets.

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Late trades punctuate crazy trade deadline

The trade deadline ended at 3 PM ET Thursday, but that doesn’t mean the news of just-completed trades is going to stop coming in. Here are a few deadline deals that broke just before or after the league cutoff.

Blazers acquire Gerald Wallace. (Ken Berger, CBSSports.com)
The Bobcats get Dante Cunningham, Joel Przybilla and two first round picks. Since Przybilla’s deal is expiring, this is a salary dump for Charlotte. They’ll come away with Cunningham and two first rounders out of the deal. Wallace can play either forward spot, so he could play alongside LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum if the Blazers want to play small ball.

Nate Robinson and Kendrick Perkins to OKC for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic. (Adrian Wojnarowski, Y! Sports)
Interesting trade for the Thunder, who are going to have trouble shooting the ball if they start Perkins, Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha. They’ll have plenty of size down low and appear to be gearing up for a potential matchup with the Lakers and/or Spurs. Perkins is widely regarded as one of the best defensive centers in the league and Ibaka is no slouch either. The C’s must feel like they have plenty of size with Shaq and Glen Davis, who usually finishes games for Doc Rivers. Green will back up Paul Pierce and/or Kevin Garnett. Krstic is a serviceable center as well, and there are rumors that Boston will be looking to add Troy Murphy if he clears waivers.

Aaron Brooks to Phoenix for Goran Dragic. (Marc Stein, ESPN)
Brooks was thought to be a cornerstone of Houston’s youth movement, but one temper tantrum and one suspension later and he’s on his way to the Suns for Dragic, who was thought to be the point guard of the future in Phoenix once Steve Nash moved on. But Dragic’s three-point shot has disappeared (28% this year after 39% last season) and his numbers are down as a result. If he gets back to form, the 24-year-old could be a steal — and the Rockets got a first round pick to boot.

Rockets send Shane Battier to Memphis for Hasheem Thabeet. (Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports)
The Rockets get another first round pick as part of this deal. Thabeet isn’t ready for prime time, but maybe the Rockets still see potential in him. Battier’s contract is expiring and he obviously wasn’t in Houston’s long-term plans so they got what they could for him. The first round pick should be useful, even if Thabeet is not.

In another trade that “almost-was,” O.J. Mayo was going to be moved to the Pacers for Josh McRoberts and a first round pick, but the NBA didn’t receive the fax in time, so the trade was nullified. Insert Michael Heisley joke here.

What to do with Jeff Green?

Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman says that while Kevin Durant is a no-brainer max-contract player, Jeff Green is another matter.

By holding off on an extension this summer and allowing Green to become a restricted free agent next summer, the Thunder would set into motion two significant elements that could ultimately make the move a smart play. OKC would retain the right to match any offer sheet Green receives from another team next summer. And the Thunder would allow the market to establish Green’s value, rather than potentially overpaying or even low-balling one of its core players.

It’s become the NBA’s latest trend, triggered by the combination of fewer top-flight, first-round talents in recent years and a downtrodden economy.

It’s safe to say Green’s deal should fall somewhere between $45 million and $55 million. What remains unknown is whether it’ll be the Thunder that opens the bidding this summer or another franchise that sets the bar next summer.

Green averaged 15.1 points and 6.0 rebounds this season. Using Basketball Reference’s nifty player season finder, in the last 15 years, only five forwards averaged between 14.5 and 15.5 ppg and between 5.5 and 6.5 rpg at the age of 23: Rasheed Wallace, Andrei Kirilenko, Luol Deng, Andray Blatche and Green.

Blatche and Green did it this season. Wallace, Kirilenko and Deng are nice players, but they didn’t develop into superstars, so the Thunder should be careful when signing Green to a new deal. Wallace appeared in four All-Star Games and Kirilenko appeared in one. Deng has yet to make the All-Star Game.

Widen the net a little bit (5.0 to 7.0 rpg) and Shane Battier, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Andrea Bargnani. Again, these are nice players, but there aren’t any bona fide stars on that list.

I assume Mayberry is talking about a five-year deal, so he pegs Green’s value at $9 million to $11 million per season. I’d put Green’s value at the bottom of that range. Green is a good starter, and teams that can sign good starters for under $10 million a season are ahead of the curve.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Failed box out costs Thunder Game 6

OKC led 94-93 in the closing moments of Game 6 when Kobe Bryant dribbled up the right side of the floor preparing to attempt a game-winning shot…

Watch the video again. This time, notice how Nick Collison (charged with covering Pau Gasol) starts to cheat over on Kobe to help on a potential drive to the hoop. This is by design. What’s not by design is how neither Serge Ibaka (#9) nor Jeff Green (#22) rotates down and puts a body on Gasol. The players that they were covering — Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher — were ponderously standing out behind the three-point line, so they weren’t threats on the offensive glass.

Instead, Ibaka and Green turn and watch Kobe’s shot. After the put-back, Jeff Van Gundy blamed Collison for not rotating back to Gasol, but physically-speaking, it’s tough to ask a guy to help on a Kobe drive and box out Gasol. That duty needs to fall to Ibaka or Green (probably Ibaka).

Here’s a case where the Thunder’s inexperience really cost them. But it’s not like failed box outs haven’t lost games before. In the 1983 NCAA title game, Hakeem Olajuwon stood and watched the shot go up, allowing NC State’s Lorenzo Charles to sneak in behind him, catch the airball, and dunk it for the win. Here’s another look:

What kind of rookie season is Michael Beasley having?

One thing that struck me about Bill Simmons’ trade value column was his unabashed hatred for Michael Beasley’s game. He made three separate references to the rookie:

Jason Thompson: I mocked him on draft day and he shoved it in my face like a cream pie. Top-notch energy guy, good defender, lots to like. You know, if Michael Beasley wasn’t such a colossal disappointment and semi-fraud, the 2008 draft could have ranked among the best ever (and certainly superior to the more ballyhooed ’07 class).

Colossal disappointment? Semi-fraud? Ouch.

Jeff Green: Great teammate, tough as nails, gives a crap, does whatever you need. He’s the anti-Beasley.

So Simmons is saying that Beasley is not a good teammate, isn’t tough, doesn’t give a crap and won’t do whatever you need? Ouch.

You have to love a country where Love’s best rookie card (Upper Deck’s ’09 SPX set, the signed autographed jersey card) goes for one-eighth the money of Beasley’s card … and yet, Miami could offer Beasley for Love right now and Minnesota would make a face and hang up. Whatever.


All right, so how is Beasley faring this season? Here are his numbers:

Read the rest after the jump...

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