The Philadelphia 76ers likely weren't eager to share the Atlantic Division with a super team. But Sixers fans like myself already have to put up with having the Boston Celtics and the much stronger Brooklyn Nets as divisional rivals. The Nets had already surpassed the Sixers by getting Joe Johnson and resigning Deron Williams, yet finally getting Dwight Howard would have put them well out of Philadelphia's reach.
The New Jersey Nets never would have gotten that lucky, yet the Brooklyn Nets appeared to be more blessed after getting Johnson and Williams. However, the old New Jersey bad luck seems to have reemerged after all, as the Nets' chances of landing Howard have gone from a sure thing to a long shot in just 48 hours.
A three or four-team trade appeared all but set back on July 9, which would have put Howard with the Nets at last and made Brooklyn a super power. It would have made the Nets blow past the Celtics, put the Sixers well into their rear view mirror and even gotten them in range of the Miami Heat. But when the Cleveland Cavaliers wouldn't cooperate and dropped out of trade talks, the deal fell apart from there.
Now according to Yahoo Sports, the Nets are close to waving the white flag and resigning the much less heralded Brook Lopez to be their center instead. Meanwhile, the Orlando Magic are talking more with the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets to finally take Howard off their hands. All of a sudden, not only is Howard unlikely to shift the balance of power in the Atlantic - if not the Eastern Conference - he may be sent out of the East altogether.
At the least, Howard would only get to torment the Magic and Nets with what could have been just once or twice a year - before the NBA Finals, anyway. Should he go to the Lakers or Rockets, the Celtics will breathe a sigh of relief and remain the top dogs in the Atlantic until further notice. As for the Sixers, it will be nice not to have one of their division rivals get even stronger, and more out of their reach, for once in this offseason.
But the Nets are bound to find it much less nice if Howard slips from their grasp for good. After months of being strung along, it looked like it would finally pay off and pave the way for the greatest era in franchise history. However, with the exception of their ABA days and the early 2000s, the Nets have never been that lucky.
Going from a bottomfeeding franchise to a super team really isn't that easy, in spite of having a few super players already. Yet Howard would have turned the Nets into instant title contenders with Williams and Johnson, while the Celtics and Sixers were in danger of being left in the dust.
Instead, Brooklyn will remain a promising but untested question mark with only a Big Two at its disposal, unless one last twist brings Howard on board at long last. However, whether they are in Brooklyn or New Jersey, the Nets may not be that blessed just yet.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident and 76ers fan.
Other stories from this contributor
- Sports & Recreation
- Dwight Howard
- Brooklyn Nets
- New Jersey Nets
- Brooklyn Nets
- Deron Williams
- Boston Celtics