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NBA AM: Dwight Howard Trade Winds Keep Swirling
Posted By Alex Raskin On July 18, 2012 @ 9:02 am In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
It must be awkward for Dwight Howard to be rehabbing in Los Angeles. According to a report by Dave McMenamin and Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLA.com, the Lakers continue to try to acquire the three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year in a trade with the Orlando Magic, but the big guy simply won’t agree to a contract extension with any team besides the Brooklyn Nets. And the longer he recuperates from back surgery in southern California, the more he risks run-ins with Laker fans, like the one he had at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday night.
After enjoying a luxury suite for the Dodgers game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Howard received a large, seventh-inning ovation from the crowd before dozens of fans bombarded him on his way out of the stadium. According to the report, fans asked if he was coming to the Lakers, to which Howard simply responded that he was there “now to rehab.”
But Howard is going to have to reassess his feelings about Los Angeles sooner or later. Sources told McMenamin and Shelburne that rumored tension between him and Kobe Bryant is “overblown,” and if signing with the Lakers meant retaining his Bird rights, Howard would undoubtedly consider the prospect.
Unfortunately for Lakers fans, several obstacles still stand in the way of a trade, beyond Howard’s refusal to sign an extension.
Andrew Bynum, the Lakers’ centerpiece in any trade proposal for Howard, would also have to agree to an extension with the Magic or a third party; and then there’s the bad contracts the Magic would want to package with Howard in any trade. Players like Hedo Turkoglu, Glen Davis and Jason Richardson—guys who were acquired to appease Howard in the first place—may prohibit even the most-willing teams from pulling the trigger on a deal. Turkoglu’s deal is for $11.8 million in 2012-2013 and isn’t fully guaranteed the following season, but Davis and Richardson will both be making $6.6 million in 2014-2015 (Richardson has a player option, which he’ll likely pick up).
And since the Lakers have already added Steve Nash, their appetite for other big contracts probably isn’t what it once was.
The Houston Rockets—who are trying to acquire Howard themselves—are also willing to be a third-team facilitator, presumably to acquire Bynum. Houston obviously has the young talent to appeal to the Magic (rookies Terrence Jones, Jeremy Lamb, Donatas Motiejunas and Royce White can all be traded a month after signing their rookie deals), but the Cleveland Cavaliers make a bit more sense.
In addition to having young talent (Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller), Cleveland also has extra picks over the next few years and the ability to absorb larger contracts because of all the cap space the organization has.
But while there is no rush for the Magic to trade Howard—they have until the deadline—the Lakers and the rest of the league would like to get on with their business. Los Angeles will begin contract extension talks with Bynum soon (ESPNLA wrote that he expects a max deal), and once he agrees, the trade for Howard would either have to be consummated or forgotten about until Jan. 15th. And don’t forget, the Lakers still want to re-sign Jordan Hill, which can’t happen until they resolve issues with Bynum and Howard.
Perhaps the Nets were wise simply to re-sign Brook Lopez and move on with their summer. Since the trade talks ended with the Magic, the Nets have solidified their bench, adding Mirza Teletovic and C.J. Watson, and re-signed Kris Humphries. They’re not blockbuster moves, but at least the Nets aren’t being held hostage over one player.
Speaking of the Nets
Humphries’ two-year, $24 million deal with the Nets means the team’s starters are owed a combined $313 million. Now, Brooklyn will have an expiring asset on their hands next season if they want to avoid a stiff luxury tax penalty, but for now, it doesn’t appear that owner Mikhail Prokhorov cares too much about taxes.
Plumlee Flashes Some Offense
There was a time, back in the 1980s, when Pacers fans went in to every draft hoping their team would select a local talent. Either a native of Indiana or an Indiana Hoosier would have easily appeased a fan base that didn’t have any realistic hopes of an NBA Title.
Of course, Donnie Walsh’s selection of Reggie Miller over Indiana’s Steve Alford may have changed the minds of Pacers fans, which is why it was ironic that so many disliked the team’s choice of Fort Wayne, IN native Miles Plumlee in the first round of this year’s draft.
The Indianapolis Star’s Mike Wells—who fielded questions from a lot of angry fans on draft night—wrote one fan’s reaction: “Pacers made a homer pick. BOOOO.” (It’s worth noting that Plumlee finished high school in North Carolina)
Obviously, Pacers fans knew that Plumlee played sparingly at Duke (20.5 mpg as a senior) and never averaged more than 6.6 ppg in any season.
But what they may not have known is that the 6-11 big man had hops (he jumped over 40 inches at the NBA Draft combine in Chicago) and surprising agility.
The Pacers liked Plumlee’s athleticism, which is why they selected him with the 26th overall pick in the first round.
But while they thought they were getting a solid backup for Roy Hibbert, whose offer sheet with the Trail Blazers was matched by the Pacers, Indiana may have gotten something more.
In five games Plumlee averaged 13 points on 46-percent field goal shooting while adding 6.6 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in 30.6 minutes per game.
“I was actually surprised by Miles Plumlee,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel told 1070 The Fan in Indianapolis on Tuesday, as quoted by Michael Imhoff of SportsRadioInterviews.com. “We were expecting not a lot of offense and just a dirty work guy, defense and rebounding. He showed us a little bit offensively, he is ahead of the curve in his lost post game, made some mid range jump shots, and felt pretty comfortable doing so. I left the summer league feeling like he is probably a little better than we thought, offensively.”
Unfortunately for the Pacers, second-round pick Orlando Johnson didn’t look as sharp. The 6-5 former UC Santa Barbara shooting guard averaged 12.4 ppg, but shot just 26.3 percent from the field and 21.1 percent from 3-point range.
“He had a rough week,” Vogel said. “It was funny because we were sitting there during the five practices that lead up to the summer league and the kid didn’t miss a shot. In five straight practices he made every open shot, any time he created his own shot he knocked it down and we were blown away by what he was doing. Then he gets down to Orlando and can’t buy a bucket. I think it might be a little stage fright or learning the speed of the game in front of a lot of important faces. We’re still very high on what his upside is.”
On a good note, Johnson did average 5.0 rpg for the Pacers in the Orlando Summer League.
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