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Now that the Brooklyn Nets are reportedly bringing back center Brook Lopez with a max contract of four years and $60 million, Orlando Magic All Star center Dwight Howard has to be feeling like that painfully adorable puppy at the pet store that everyone instantly falls in love with, but unfortunately cannot afford.
Even when the Nets attempted to involve other teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Clippers in the trade discussions with Orlando, nothing seemed to completely satisfy the Magic’s desires.
It’s hard to fathom how things suddenly came to an abrupt halt for the Nets once they agreed to terms with Lopez. The consensus throughout the majority of this process was that they would eventually get the Howard deal done one way or another due to the combination of his vehement demand to be traded to Brooklyn before an upcoming contract season and his reported refusal to sign a long-term extension with any other team the Magic might trade him to.
If Howard really wasn’t going to give a verbal agreement to interested teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and Atlanta Hawks, there was no way the Nets transaction wasn’t going to go down at some point this offseason. However, now enters the collective bargaining agreement, which prohibits Brooklyn from trading Lopez after signing this deal until January 15th.
If Howard isn’t headed to a different city before then, then the rumors will likely re-surface once again somewhere around the holiday season. And to think, that’s supposed to be the happiest time of year!
But what if Howard is shipped off somewhere else beforehand, thus ending any possibility of him opening up the brand new Barclays Center in Brooklyn?
Well, Nets fans need not lose sleep over such a scenario taking place, because it really wouldn’t be as heartbreaking as it would initially seem. As insane as it may sound, this team would instead be better off without trading for him.
Heat stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh aren’t the only ones to prove that great players like themselves are capable of winning a world championship if they decide to join forces the way they did in the Summer of 2010. Nope. We can’t forget that Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce – all future Hall of Famers – were the original “Big Three” back in 2007, and that they also won it all during their era.
That’s where the NBA is headed, whether you’re in favor of it or not; which is exactly why the star-studded Lakers added Steve Nash this offseason, why the New York Knicks brought in Carmelo Anthony to join Amar’e Stoudemire a little over a season ago, and why adding Dwight Howard to a starting lineup that has two of the league’s most skilled players in Deron Williams and Joe Johnson would have sounded like Heaven for the people of Brooklyn.
On paper, the idea of putting the only three-time Defensive Player of the Year award winner in league history, and arguably best center in the game today, in Howard, alongside Williams and Johnson, who have combined for eight All Star appearances, sounds like an absolutely unstoppable force. There’s nothing far-fetched about that belief whatsoever.
The issue, however, lies in Howard’s market value. Rumors had the Nets trading pieces such as Lopez, Marshon Brooks, Kris Humphries and several first round draft picks in exchange for Howard’s services.
These assets aren’t worth dealing when the foundation of the Nets is already built on stars such as Williams and Johnson. The organization can also use the truckload of money they were going to give Howard to sign quality veterans that will comprise the bench.
Last year’s injuries have turned Lopez into a forgotten man, and wrongfully so. Until the 2011-2012 season – where he was only able to compete in five games as a result of serious foot and ankle ailments – Lopez had not missed a single game during his first three years as a pro. Standing seven feet tall and only 24-years-old, he essentially has the skill-set of Pau Gasol, minus the superb vision and passing ability. He’s averaged a very healthy 17.4 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game for his career. Good health and Williams at the point could propel him into one of the top three centers in the league.
Kim Kardashian may be the reason that Humphries is globally famous, but his performance on the court should be turning NBA fans’ heads even more. Last year he was one of the few players in the league to average a double-double, with 13.8 points and 11 rebounds per game. He’s earned a reputation as a solid player who doesn’t hold anything back on either end. Currently a free agent, he expects a big payday in the near future, and the Nets almost certainly wouldn’t mind signing that check if they are financially capable.
In his rookie season last year, Brooks at times displayed an ability to score at will. He posted an average of 12.6 points and nearly a steal per game in about 29 minutes a night. Bringing in Johnson and Gerald Wallace will probably reduce him to a sixth man role, but having a growing scorer like him in that spot could turn out great for a team with a thin bench like Brooklyn.
Howard may be one cute puppy, but not worth giving up all your other cool pets for.
Image Courtesy of Keith Allison