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.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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.

NBA Draft Do-Over: 2008

How would the 2008 NBA Draft go if owners and GMs knew then what they know now?

Here’s my take…

#1 Chicago: Derrick Rose
The Bulls don’t want a mulligan. They are perfectly happy with their franchise point guard.

#2 Miami: Brook Lopez
Michael Beasley isn’t a bust, no matter what anyone says. But if the Heat had it all to do over again, they’d go with Lopez here, who posted 13.0 points and 8.1 rebounds in about 31 minutes of playing time.

#3 Minnesota: O.J. Mayo
I don’t think the T-Wolves would do anything differently. They’d still draft Mayo and trade with Memphis for Love. Why not?

#4 Seattle/OKC: Russell Westbrook
Likewise, the Thunder have to be happy with what they have in Westbrook, who averaged 20.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.9 assists in February.

Read the rest of this entry »

David Thorpe hands out his All-Rookie awards

Scout.com’s David Thorpe (via ESPN) lists the top NBA rookies from the 2008-09 season.

All-Rookie First Team

Derrick Rose, Bulls: Among rookies, he is second in scoring and minutes per game and first in assists. He was handed a ton of responsibility immediately and handled it all with grace and professionalism. And though he went No. 1 overall, he probably exceeded the expectations of most people.

Russell Westbrook, Thunder: Only rookie to rank in the top 10 among rookies in scoring, rebounding and assists. He is also second in steals and first in free throws made and attempted. He willed his team to some terrific wins and showed incredible promise.

O.J. Mayo, Grizzlies: First among rookies in scoring and minutes, and is already considered one of the league’s top jump-shooters. He also competes hard on defense and appears to be very professional.

Kevin Love, Timberwolves: Already one of the league’s top rebounders, he is competing with Speights for the rookie PER crown. He is also a smart interior defender and should be a strong starter for years to come.

Brook Lopez, Nets: He’s been nothing short of a revelation. One of the top free-throw shooting centers in basketball, he is an excellent scorer, rebounder and shot-blocker. He has been probably the most productive rookie of the class, and he can become a cornerstone center, which is one of the most valuable positions.

It’s hard to argue with any of these choices. I was a little surprised to see that neither Rudy Fernandez or Michael Beasly made the first team, but both players made Thorpe’s second team. Thorpe also hands out awards for All-Defense and All-Offense, as well as a few other miscellaneous awards.

Bill Simmons’ trade value column

Yes, it’s 12 days old and the trade deadline has passed, but if you haven’t had the chance to check out his annual trade value opus, it’s a good read. He ranks the top 40 players by total trade value (i.e. age, upside, salary, talent, etc.). Here’s what he has to say about Tim Duncan:

4. Tim Duncan
His finishes in the Trade Value column since 2001: No. 2, No. 3, No. 1, No. 2, No. 1, No. 3, No. 3, No. 4. Uncanny. Speaking of consistency, check out his 12 regular seasons (including this one) split into groups of three seasons …

Duncan (first three years): 22-12-3, 52 percent FG, missed eight games.

Duncan (next three years): 23-13-4, 51 percent FG, missed eight games.

Duncan (next three years): 21-12-3, 50 percent FG, missed 31 games.

Duncan (last three years): 20-11-3, 52 percent FG, missed five games.

Then, remember that he also played 155 playoff games and averaged a 23-13-4 with 50 percent shooting, plus first-class defense and leadership. And sprinkle in the little fact that no Duncan team has ever lost even 30 games in a regular season. Translation: Greatest power forward ever, most consistent superstar ever and you cannot sleep on him in May and June.

I do take issue with a few of his rankings…

Yao at #7? Too injury prone.
KG ahead of Deron Williams? Garnett is too old.
Nash at #23 (ahead of Rondo, Devin Harris, Mayo, Kevin Martin)? Seems awfully high for a 35 year-old.

There are a few others, but I’m not going to nitpick.

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