Irritating, disturbing, and completely unnecessary.
That’s the only way to describe the prolonged, attention-seeking sweepstakes Dwight Howard has generated, whose swollen-up image as the league’s best center came quickly crashing down last season–he’s barely considered to be among the five best playing at the center position.
I’ve written about my displeasure at how Howard has carried himself in the past, as his actions now just seem as another impetus to feed his starving ego. He did the same a year ago, and now once again he’s made it publicly known that he will test the free agent market in the most ostentatious of ways.
But of course, since Howard landing on another team–or staying put in Los Angeles–changes the entire landscape of a conference, it’s worthwhile to examine his potential destinations, albeit further promoting this carousel of futility.
Los Angeles Lakers
For the most nonsensical of sweepstakes to conclude with the most nonsensical of decisions would only seem natural for Howard. Upon superficial examination, Howard appears to fit perfectly in the Lakers lineup: he provides the only true post presence, and complements the flash and finesse the other Laker starters exude. But he’s simply not compatible with the team. By not being the “alpha dog” and most crucial piece on the roster, his ego is slighted and he becomes inactive on both ends of the court–an huge detriment to the Lakers. In essence, this “marriage” has been proven to gruesomely crumble–so why give it another whirl, while this time having a more bitter, uneasy feel?
Golden State Warriors
If to acquire Howard, the Warriors would presumably have to dump Bogut–and blindly ignore his revival experienced during the playoffs in doing so. The defensive prowess lies in both of these centers, but while Howard swats away shots for dramatic effect, Bogut’s blocks lead the way for fast breaks the other way–something Golden State can’t get enough of. Howard may be the better overall option at center now and down the road, but the Warriors won’t want to risk any damage to a close-knit locker room, or subtract any units–in trading for Howard–from their cohesive roster.
Atlanta may be the least appealing city of the bunch here, and with starting center Al Horford in the middle of a 5-year deal–and not as far off from Howard in skill as most would think–the Hawks would be a very unlikely destination for Howard. The only possible aspect Howard would regard favorably is that he would instantly become a full-fledged superstar again, playing in his hometown, and would not feel the suppressing pressure of bigger markets.
If Howard longs for attention, he’ll indirectly find some in Houston. The Rockets’ former longstanding center, Yao Ming, was part of Houston’s pitch (via Skype) to Howard. It’s well-known how Yao’s home country of China follows their hero’s lead, and his former team. So it wouldn’t be far-off to believe the new Rockets center–a star already–would experience an even greater burst of popularity.
But of course, the sought-after limelight Howard receives will be severely limited: Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons, and especially James Harden have already established their celebrity figures in Houston, something Howard will have to compete against.
Furthermore, there’s the added difficulty of dealing away current center Omer Asik, who could not possibly split time with Howard at the shared position.
Howard might be lacking of responsibility or “high-character”, but he would inevitably fill the vital role of becoming the face of the Mavericks franchise–whose prior one, 35-year old Dirk Nowitzki, nears the end of his playing days.
The center position is free for the taking, and by playing alongside the seasoned veteran Nowitzki–who still has a few formidable years ahead of him–will aid in Howard’s development, and the two will complement each other nicely in the frontcourt.