After only a few games, it's become increasingly clear that the New Jersey Nets need help if they're a) ever going to be a serious contender and b) hold on to free agent Deron Williams this offseason. Luckily for them, the best player on the market, Dwight Howard, has shown interest in joining the team in Brooklyn next season. The problem for the franchise, of course, is that they have few assets to trade and might have to fend for both players ont he open market in July.
But wait! Perhaps plans are already being formed, because Howard and Williams were spotted bronoodling at dinner on Wednesday night with the Nets in Orlando! Colin Stephenson of The Newark Star-Ledger has all the juicy details (via EOB):
"Since he's been in the league, every time he comes to town, we go eat dinner and just kick it,'' Howard said after the Magic's shootaround today. "We've been friends since the Olympics, and so we go out to eat, have a bite.''
Earlier, Williams had stammered and said, "I don't even know -- I really don't,'' when asked if he had dinner with Howard. However, when asked if he would recommend New York City living to a 6-foot-11 friend, Williams said, "Yes, I would definitely recommend the area.''
Howard said he and Williams did a low-key dinner, not wanting to set off any kind of firestorm.
Wow, that sure does sound intimate, exactly the kind of meal at which players would discuss their hopes and dreams for the future. Obviously those dreams involve playing together. As everyone knows, it's impossible to eat dinner with a longtime friend without talking about the most serious things in your lives. I bet they even fed bites of pasta into each other's mouths.
The context of the players' careers lends the meal some added intrigue, but I see nothing curious about this arrangement. Basketball stars lead similar lives, and these two likely know each other very well from playing together on the USA national team. It's hard to blame for people for being paranoid when so many stars have changed teams over the past two years, but it's more likely Williams tolerated Howard's terrible impressions or food-related puns than that the two hatched some plan to bend the NBA to their will.
Frankly, the craziest part of this situation is that the restaurant footed the bill for the meal, presumably in the hopes of getting publicity, and then couldn't even get a mention in Stephenson's report. Way to blow several hundred dollars, guys.