Josh Howard may not be so expendable after all

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Josh Howard isn’t making things easy for the Mavs.

For two months Howard struggled mightily on offense, turning in horrid, high-volume shooting displays at a point in the season where the Mavs’ offense looked especially vulnerable. With each jumper clanking off the rim, Howard looked closer and closer to a future in another NBA city; the Mavs were rumored to have interest in Kevin Martin, Andre Iguodala, and Caron Butler, all of whom would slide into Howard’s role seamlessly.

But over the last three games, Howard has put together a couple of throwback performances — including a season-high 25 points in a win over Golden State last night.

Those keeping an eye on the schedule will be quick to point out the Mavs’ opponents over that three-game stretch: they’ve played Minnesota once and Golden State twice. Howard has been routinely matched up against inferior or undersized defenders in those three games, and neither the Wolves or the Warriors are anything resembling a competent defensive club.

All that said, Howard is playing his best basketball of the season right now…which makes it a bit more difficult to rationalize any of the aforementioned trades.

For one, a fully-functional Howard can at least near the production of those three players, but without any of the long-term financial commitment. Considering the tumultuous road ahead for the NBA and the Players’ Association, owners everywhere are wary of long, expensive deals. Mark Cuban is no exception. Plus, teams like the Sixers are rumored to be handcuffing Samuel Dalembert’s contract (or Elton Brand’s) to Andre Iguodala for any potential trades. After all, if Philly is shipping out their most talented player, they can’t justify such a significant payroll on an underachieving group of bigs.

I guess that’s where this situation is especially interesting: the fact that Howard is improving only matters to the Mavs. Philadelphia, Washington, and Sacramento are all linked to Howard because of salary reasons; if acquired, it’s assumed that all three would decline Howard’s $11.8 million team option for next season. This isn’t talent-for-talent, it’s talent-for-savings, which means that the Mavs won’t even add to their returns based on Josh’s current upswing.

All of this is to say that if trading Josh was a no-brainer before, the Mavs now have a real decision on their hands.

Report: Matt Barnes texted friend that he beat up Derek Fisher, spat in wife’s face

Derek Fisher, Matt Barnes, Russell Westbrook
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Grizzlies forward Matt Barnes reportedly attacked Knicks coach Derek Fisher for dating his estranged wife, Gloria Govan.

New details are emerging, and they cast Barnes in an even worse light.

Ian Mohr of the New York Post:

Sources told The Post that Barnes became incensed when his 6-year-old twin sons, Carter and Isaiah, called to tell him that Fisher was at the house.

Following the dust-up, Barnes, 35, texted a pal that he had not only assaulted Fisher, 41, but also took revenge on Govan, one source said.

“I kicked his ass from the back yard to the front room, and spit in her face,” the text read, according to the source.

If this becomes a criminal case, Barnes’ text could incriminate him.

In the court of public opinion, the presence of Barnes’ children and his spitting in his wife’s face make this even more disturbing.

Unfortunately, not everyone views it that way. Too many are laughing off the incident.

Albert Burneko of Deadspin had the best take I’ve seen on this situation:

When an accused domestic abuser shows up uninvited at a family party to—as a source put it to the New York Post—“beat the shit” out of someone for the offense of dating his ex, that is not a wacky character up to zany shenanigans. It is not reality TV melodrama or a cartoon or celebrities being silly. It is the behavior of a dangerous misogynist lunatic. It is an act of violent aggression. It is a man forcefully asserting personal property rights over a woman’s home, body, and life. It differs from what Ray Rice did in that elevator by degree, not by kind, and not by all that much.

I suggest reading it in full.