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Top five reasons Dwight Howard will join the Los Angeles Lakers next year: Fan’s perpsective
There is a man averaging over 32 points and 17 boards in the NBA playoffs right now. He is first in postseason scoring and rebounding. He is shooting an immoral, nearly 70 percent from the field. He also happens to be the best defender on the planet, by a wide margin. Effectively, at this moment, he's the best in the world on both sides of the court.
And yet, his team is on the verge of a first round exit.
It doesn't matter who you are, should your tragic task be to cover him alone, he will drop 40 on you with schoolyard ease. If you dare to shoot near him, realize that there is a strong chance your shot will be spiked in your face at ten times the speed at which you shot it. Again, it makes no difference who you are.
The man has sculptured one of the best regular season and opening round performances in the history of basketball and impacts the totality of his NBA contests unlike any other roundball artist alive.
And still, he has received no serious consideration for MVP this year.
You might suspect from this opening description that we're in the mid-1960s and the man's name is Wilt Chamberlain. But, the fact is that this is happening right now and the reason you might not know all the details is that he plays in small market, for a team drowning in mediocrity.
Unlike lesser talents with the good fortune of endless clamoring crowds, flashing lights and dancing pens, Dwight Howard(notes) eclipses his modest stage and shines despite the dullness that surrounds him.
And, the Orlando Magic haven't done enough to fix that.
5. Otis Smith
For five years now, Otis Smith has had the main ingredient to a successful championship recipe: the NBA's premiere big man. He has squandered his opportunity. Smith signed Rashard Lewis(notes) to one of the least cost-efficient contracts in NBA history. Then, he traded what was an already historically awful contract, for the only worse contract: Gilbert Arenas'.(notes) From bringing in Vince Carter(notes) to trading away Marcin Gortat(notes), Smith has made all the wrong moves. Like Dan Gilbert's in Cleveland, his efforts have been as sincere as his execution is lacking and I'm willing to wager that he's lost Dwight Howard's confidence in the process.
4. Bigger Market
There is no escaping the reality that the NBA's recent success has a lot to do with the conglomeration of talent in the major markets. Still, the league is not the only beneficiary. With the increased visibility the extra cameras, stories and contention brings, players have more endorsement and business opportunities. More power and celebrity.
I suspect the "beast from the East" craves all of that too.
3. Dealing with reality
Dwight Howard could leave the Orlando Magic two different ways. He can wait for free agency in 2012 and sign with whichever team he chooses or he could be traded this summer or some time before the trade deadline next year. Neither represents a particularly favorable future for the Magic, but if they trade him, even if it's a downgrade, the team can at least extract some value from his departure.
If they don't trade him, the only thing they gain is cap space. With no Howard or new piece and a record of poor decision-making, what type of offer can they make a free agent?
An unattractive one.
2. Lakers have the pieces
Because losing Howard to free agency would be such a catastrophe, the Magic need to find a suitable trading partner. Fortunately, the Los Angeles Lakers have a young center with a comparable contract and would probably include Lamar Odom(notes) in a larger deal if it meant securing Howard for six or seven years. The Magic could then offer Bynum an extension and try to develop some more pieces along with him.
1. NBA Championships
Dwight Howard has made it no secret that he wants to compete for a championship. Each passing year, he puts more pressure on the Magic's management to make changes. He questions his coach's attitude and teammates' effort in seemingly every interview. His frustration oozes from every word and expression.
Now, imagine a Lakers team featuring Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol(notes) and an older Kobe Bryant(notes) that relies more and improves on his jumpshot. I can tell you the only people that would enjoy that thought are the Laker nation and David Stern.
As a Miami Heat fan and long time basketball observer, I can tell you it's a nightmare that inches closer with every crushing playoff loss Howard endures.
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