NBA Rumors: Dwight Howard Going to Lakers Would Make Him More Hated Than LeBron
Hoopsworld's Alex Kennedy confirms that D12 would be willing to wear Purple and Gold for the long haul:
Dwight Howard will sign a long-term deal with the Lakers if dealt to Los Angeles, source confirms. My man @JRudolphSports reported it first.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) July 19, 2012
That's music to most Lakers fans' ears, but it's a sad sign of the times to just about everyone else. Wasn't the long-awaited collective bargaining agreement supposed to restore some semblance of competitive equity to this league?
Aren't fans outside of Miami and Los Angeles due some elite talent of their own?
In theory, sure.
In theory, the draft-assembled Oklahoma City Thunder are the model upon which franchises should build their rosters henceforth. After all, Dwight Howard would be the second All-World center the smaller-market Orlando Magic drafted and eventually lost.
In practice, little has changed.
Free agents circumvent salary caps by orchestrating sign-and-trade deals that return pennies on the dollar to the team losing out. And, nothing short of a direct intervention from the office of David Stern himself could prevent these same Lakers from landing Chris Paul in 2011.
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Stern might consider a similar decision in the midst of these Howard talks were it not for the uproar that would ensue.
But, the reality is this: ad-hoc vetoes aren't much of a solution when superstars can so adeptly game the system in a variety of ways.
The notion that the Orlando Magic are embarking upon a trade in any traditional sense is lunacy. The organization has as much leverage as a student council vice president.
This is nothing more than a circumvention of the free-agent market of which Howard would otherwise soon become a part. It's also the best-case scenario for a franchise at risk of losing its cornerstone for absolutely nothing.
Their grievances will have more to do with how it happened, the fact Howard drove this process by artificially limiting the trade market for his services. Had he agreed to sign extensions with anyone other than the Lakers and Brooklyn Nets, the Magic would be better served and the league would be more balanced.
They'll also take issue with his insistence on flying over all those flyover states.
Nor will they appreciate how transparently celebrities pursue the cameras. Despite how little of value is ever communicated to said cameras, guys like Dwight Howard can't get enough of them. Some part of their hungry psyches secretly hopes a TMZ crew will surprise them and shower uncritical adoration.
According to Chris Tomasson, some saw this coming a while ago:
Tracy McGrady figured last January that Dwight Howard and the Lakers would be a good match. "(Howard) wants to be Hollywood,'' McGrady said at the time. "He's just that type of dude."
Comparisons to LeBron James' voyage to sunnier waters will no doubt abound, but there are important differences.
LeBron didn't hold the Cleveland Cavaliers captive for well over a season. He saved his mixed messages for the summer, sparing his teammates the headache of a sideshow that rendered their on-court performances irrelevant.
The one thing you can say about "The Decision" is that it was at least decisive.
Howard has afforded the city of Orlando no such mercy. He's rather taken a Goldilocks approach, deeming this porridge too hot and the other a bit cold. And, it's taken him forever to make up his conflicted mind in the process.
Apparently the Los Angeles Lakers are just right, and we can only imagine it's a matter of time before all the pieces fall into place.
Lakers fans will love their new prize.
And, they'll most certainly be the only ones.
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