Tuesday, July 9, 2013
D12 Has Landed: Who wins and loses?
In case you've been living under a rock over the last few days, or are just in hibernation until the NFL season starts, you know that Dwight Howard has let the world know that he will sign with the Houston Rockets once the league allows it. Before we get into the winners and losers of this deal, can't we all agree that the fans are the ultimate winners here? The "Dwightmare" is over, at least for the next three seasons when Howard can opt out of his soon to be signed deal. But let's not get ahead of ourselves here. Instead, let us all focus on the here and now and talk about who wins and loses with Howard, wait for it......taking his talents to Texas.
Winner: Dwight Howard
Obviously one of the big winners is D12 himself. By all accounts and opinions he chose the team that gives him the best chance at winning a NBA championship over the next few seasons. He can finally unpack his bags and set up roots on a team that is up and coming, and he can go about the job of repairing his damaged reputation. Of course, the best way for him to ultimately make people forget about his exit and waffling in Orlando and the failed season in Los Angeles is to win big and consistently in Houston.
Winners: Houston Rockets
We will continue with the obvious theme here with the organization of Houston being a huge winner as well. The Rockets haven't truly been relevant on the NBA's landscape since the days of Yao Ming, but now they have managed to catapult themselves into the upper echelon of the Western Conference's elite teams. It is amazing what a trade here and a signing there can do for the Vegas odds of a team.
Winner: Rocket's GM Daryl Morey
This man now officially looks like a genius while the people who doubted him are left to ponder what they could have possibly been thinking. Morey set out on this plan a couple of off seasons ago and even in his wildest dreams he couldn't have imagined his plan working out any better than it did. He has officially turned Houston around and he didn't have to mortgage the future to do it. Houston.....you have yourself one helleva general manager.
Winner: James Harden
If you're "The Beard" you have to love the situation you're sitting in now. You went from a guy coming off the bench in OKC (albeit a team that made the NBA Finals and has a great future as well) to a guy that signed a max contract, being one of the top 10 (arguably) players in the NBA, and now being the go to player on a team that has the look of a potential Western Conference Finals team. Not bad for a guy who received some criticism for not taking less money to stay in Oklahoma City. I'd say he landed on his feet.
Losers: LA Lakers
Wherever there are winners, if you look in the corner you will see the losers wondering what happened. In this case, in one corner you have the LA Lakers. Regardless of what the smoke signals emanating out of the Staples Center are saying, you have to believe that the Lakers are reeling from D12's decision. Never before has a star player spurned the bright lights of Hollywood for another team. But now, not only has the best big man in the league decided to play elsewhere but he also left the Lakers in a state of uncertainty. No one is quite sure what the future looks like for the purple and gold, and they more than likely will reload because they are still the Lakers after all. But for now they undoubtedly have to be considered one of the losers in this deal.
Losers: Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks
Never has a NBA championship seemed so far gone. In case you have forgotten, before the Miami Heat went back to back there was the "other" team in Texas that were the champions. It was after that season that Mark Cuban decided to gamble the precious prime seasons of his seven foot tall German MVP on the belief that his skills to persuade star free agents like Deron Williams and Dwight Howard to join forces in Dallas would all be worth it. Yeah....how did that work out for Cuban? This isn't Shark Tank buddy, in the world of the NBA you don't sit in the position of power. I think Cuban found that out, but it is unfortunate for Dirk Nowitzki that he'll have to waste his last few seasons on teams that have zero chance at winning a title. Or will he? Stay tuned.
Losers: Sam Presti and the OKC Thunder
How are the Thunder and their general manager considered losers in this scenario? Mr. Presti is now responsible for the rise of two power forces in the Western Conference. Not only has he built up the Thunder, but Presti is directly responsible for the growing juggernaut known as the Houston Rockets. On October 27, 2012 Sam Presti and OKC traded James Harden, Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook, and Lazar Hayward to Houston for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first round picks, and a second round pick. If Harden doesn't land in Houston, neither does Howard. The city of Houston should send Presti a gift basket filled with fruit, NASA memorabilia, and a gift card to iTunes for the purpose of downloading Houston rapper Slim Thug's greatest hits. Because without that trade taking place Houston is just a minor footnote on the NBA's path and not a premier destination.
As for the Thunder, that trade doesn't look as good as it did some nine months ago does it? The jury is still out on Lamb so no indictment there, but Martin lasted only one season in OKC and wasn't the difference maker that Harden was/could have been. The Thunder used one of those first round picks to draft Steven Adams this past draft, and he might turn into a serviceable big man in the league. But he isn't the player you envision when you manage to pry coveted first round picks from the cold hands of opposing general managers. While there's still time for OKC to come out on the winning end of this deal I wouldn't hold my breath.
Losers: Every team that was in the Howard sweepstakes with the exception of Golden St.
Golden St. never had a legitimate shot to get Howard, regardless of what you may have read. Plus, they managed to sign Andre Iguodala who is a better fit for the personnel and team that they have assembled in the Bay Area. Atlanta, LA Lakers, Dallas, all come out on the losing end here. Any time you try to sign an impact player and you come up short you are in the losing category. It may work out over time for all the teams involved but in the meantime if you're not winning....well, you know the rest.