NBA Trade Deadline 2012: Thunder Rejects Dwight Howard Offer for Harden, Ibaka

BlakeContributor IIMarch 9, 2012

ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 06:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic smiles during the game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Amway Center on February 6, 2012 in Orlando, Florida.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The NBA trade deadline is approaching, and Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic is one of the hottest topics of trade rumors. Howard's next team is uncertain, but speculators can now eliminate the Oklahoma City Thunder.

According to Brian K. Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel, the Oklahoma City Thunder denied the Magic's offer of trading Dwight Howard for James Harden and Serge Ibaka.

"Magic have talked to OKC but Thunder balks at giving up James Harden and Serge Ibaka to rent Dwight" tweeted Schmitz from @MagicInsider this morning.

From a distance, this may have seemed like a favorable trade for the Thunder. Howard averages 18.4 points per game; which trumps Harden's (12.2) and Ibaka's (8.2) averages. Howard has seven years of NBA experience, but Harden and Ibaka each only have two.

If you dig a little deeper, you can see why OKC rejected the trade. Ibaka and Howard share the same blocking average (2.2), but with a caveat: Howard's 2011/2012 season average remains at 2.2, but Ibaka's has risen to 3.2. Harden's average assists per game is 2.3, and Howard's is only 1.5.

Solid blocks and assists are two key ingredients for strong team, and the Thunder is smart for hanging on to those assets. Despite having five less years of experience, Harden and Ibaka have already surpassed Howard in those two areas. 

Looks like Howard won't be coming to the City, but you can't blame the Magic for trying, and you can't blame the Thunder for denying.