NBA @ 2: Is Bynum Worth Dwight Howard?
Over the last couple of weeks many of us here at HOOPSWORLD have received some version of this question:
Why would the Orlando Magic consider taking Andrew Bynum back in a trade for Dwight Howard?
The opposition circles around several simple points.
1) Bynum has a history of injury, and may not be the kind of player who can be counted on to play 82 games, having managed it just once in his career while averaging 55.3 games per season overall. Compare that to Howard, who has appeared in 82 games give times in his seven-year career, while only missed three and four games, respectively, the other two years.
2) Bynum has just one year left on his contract, which pays him $16 million on a team option for 2012-13. Bynum could walk away, leaving the Magic just as empty-handed as they would be if Howard walked away.
3) Bynum may not be a franchise player, an MVP-caliber player, like Howard is.
It seems likely that the Lakers could ultimately be the choice should the Magic decide that trading Howard is the only option, so let’s address those oft-voiced concerns.
First of all, there is no denying the injury history. Howard is an iron man, while there definitely seem to be some glass tendencies with Bynum. Bynum needs to stay healthy this season, particularly up to the trade deadline, to be worthy of strong consideration from Orlando. The Magic’s training staff is not exactly known for helping players work through injuries, so it’s not a natural fit by any means.
Second, the Magic would have one more year with Bynum than with Howard to prove to Andrew that he’s in the right place. The impetus would be on Magic management to do a better job of putting (and keeping) a contending team around him. Bynum wants to be the leader, to get out from under the shadow of better players, and giving him a chance to prove he’s worth that chance could be a good move for the Magic.
Finally, Bynum has never been counted on as a franchise player. Part of that is because he’s never been consistently healthy, of course. The Lakers would like nothing better than to run the offense through Bynum and take some of the pressure off of Kobe Bryant, but that has yet to be a consistent option for LA. If Bynum were given the chance to be a first-option player would he embrace the role? The Magic might have to take a chance that he would.
The best option for Orlando is clearly to find a way to put a contender around Dwight between now and the NBA trade deadline. The idea that they could replace him and be anywhere near as good is patently ridiculous. That said, there is a severe shortage of good centers in the NBA and the Magic absolutely must get one back if they trade Howard. Andrew Bynum may not be an easy sell, but he is a consistent double-double threat and a very good shot blocker. If the Magic were to hand the team over to him he might just emerge as the front court beast the Lakers have long believed him to be.
Nene Happy To Be Home
One of the most talked-about names in NBA free agency this season was that of Denver Nuggets big man Nene. He talks with HOOPSWORLD about feeling the love from so many NBA teams, his ultimate decision to return to Denver, how good the Nuggets might be, and more in this exclusive interview:
Bring up Courtney Lee’s name and the average NBA fan will likely immediately recall the lay-up he missed during the NBA Finals while wearing an Orlando Magic jersey his rookie season. Since then, however, Lee has made himself an invaluable member of the Houston Rockets, as much for his defense as for his ability to find opportunistic baskets. This year is different, though. This is a contract year for Lee, and he has to establish himself as more than just the guy who missed a difficult lay-up three seasons ago.
“It is a big year for me,” Lee tells HOOPSWORLD. “It’s my fourth year, a contract year, but really every year that I play I try to get better, so every year is big for me. I want to continue to win, continue to get better individually.”
To this point, Lee’s time in Houston hasn’t been easy. He plays behind his good friend Kevin Martin, who garners the bulk of the minutes at shooting guard. It may not be easy for Lee to make his mark on the team in limited minutes.
“You’ve just got to stay positive with it,” says Lee. “The way I see it, I’m playing behind one of the top ten scorers in the NBA, so when my number’s called I just have to be prepared. I’ll be ready when they call my name and I’ll make the most of my opportunity.”
One advantage for Lee is that he was with the Rockets last season, and is therefore familiar with the returning members of the team. He won’t suffer the lag that new players and rookies will experience after a rushed training camp and brief preseason.
“For the guys who were already here it helps a lot that we already know each other’s games and have some chemistry already. We’re also running a similar offense. For the new guys, training camp helped a lot because we got a chance to see their games. We kind of had an idea what they could do because we’ve played against them, but having them on your team is different, so training camp definitely helped.”
New head coach Kevin McHale isn’t reinventing the offense, preferring to stay with many of the sets former head coach Rick Adelman ran with the team. He is, however, putting more emphasis on defense, and area where Lee excels.
“Coach McHale is kind of different,” Lee explains. “They both are good coaches, but do things differently. Rick is more about players holding each other accountable. He’s not going to do any screaming or even a lot of talking. He’s going to explain it to you once and if you don’t get it you just don’t get it and there go your minutes. McHale, he and his staff are going to explain it, and if you don’t get it they’re going to explain it again. They’re stressing defense a lot more than what we did last year, and the biggest thing is that he’s a communicator. It’s great to have that defensive emphasis because defense is one of my strong areas. Coach is stressing that, so I can pick up on that real quick and even help out everyone else on the team. That’s the most important thing. No matter how many points you score, it’s really about how many stops you get.”
Since he and Martin are so close, does he ever consider asking Kevin to fake an injury to get him some playing time?
“No, I don’t want him to do that,” says Lee, laughing. “We just have one goal, and that’s to win. Me and Kevin push each other every day when we guard each other, and I can promise you there are no days off.”
Lee is off to a great start, scoring 15 points off the bench in Houston’s season-opening loss to the Orlando Magic. If he can continue to maximize his time like that Coach McHale might just have to find a way to keep Lee on the court for longer stretches of time. He can certainly handle the load, and looks forward to the challenge.
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