Friday night, Dwight Howard picked up technical foul number 15 on the season, helping extend his league lead.
Once he gets his “frequent techicals rewards card” stamped one more time gets an automatic one-game suspension.
It’s really a matter of when — he has averaged a technical every four games this season and the Magic have 23 games left. Even on his best behavior he’s going to get another. Since he gets another one-game suspension for every second technical after 16, he may well miss a couple more games this season.
Then comes the playoffs.
Get seven technical in the playoffs and you are suspended a game (everyone’s total resets to zero). That may seem like a lot, but with emotions higher and the games more intense in the playoffs, technical fouls flow like water sometimes. Kendrick Perkins would have been suspended for a game in the Eastern Conference Finals last season if one technical assessed had not been rescinded by the league.
It will be interesting to see how much the referees relax the “respect the game” techs during the heated playoffs. If at all.
The playoffs are when Howard will really need to control himself. We’ve got questions about whether these Magic are contenders, but if they are to seriously challenge the Celtics and Heat at the top of the East, Howard has to be at the heart of the attack. Every game. He is riding and pushing his teammates right now, trying to get the team back up to the East’s elite. He is putting up monster numbers — averaging 27 and 15 while shooting 67.3 percent in his last 10 games — trying to carry his team up to the next level. He’s even hitting free throws.
He’s going to have to do all that and more come the playoffs for the Magic to really have a chance. Which means he needs to stay on the court.
Basically, starting today, he’s got to get the technical down to a minimum. Because this team needs him on the court to have any chance.
In 2002, not a single team drafted Udonis Haslem.
For the last 15 years, the Heat haven’t been able to quit him.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
Haslem isn’t receiving another $4 million windfall like he got last year. He’ll earn $2,328,652 – $1,471,382 paid by the Heat and $857,270 covered by the league (as is done on one-year minimum deals for veterans). An NBA contract, even for the minimum, might be enough of a reward at this point.
To whatever extent Haslem still has a position – he has played just 390 minutes in the last two years – he’s probably a center. The Heat have Hassan Whiteside, Kelly Olynyk, Bam Adebayo and maybe A.J. Hammons ahead of him. But this isn’t about getting the 37-year-old Haslem on the court, at least not beyond rare spot minutes, where can still be useful as a defender and rebounder.
The Heat want Haslem’s toughness and veteran leadership. He reinforces their culture, and that might be worth a roster spot.
Derrick Rose meeting with the Clippers barely registered. He has to meet with the Bucks twice before most noticed.
But it seems Rose and his agent, B.J. Armstrong, have finally figured out how to drum up attention – leak interest from more prominent teams like the LeBron James-led, championship-contending Cavaliers and big-market, widely followed Lakers.
What team could generate even more buzz?
Sam Amick of USA Today:
If the talks went beyond Armstrong asking the Bulls whether they would sign Rose and the Bulls declining, I’d be surprised.
There’s probably a part of Rose that wants to return to his native Chicago, but it seems his former team has long moved on.
Derrick Rose is suddenly in demand – once the market was set at a minimum salary or so.
Not only are the Cavaliers pursuing the former MVP/overhyped role player, so are the Lakers.
Rose is also meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, sources told ESPN’s Chris Haynes and Ramona Shelburne. The Lakers are trying to entice Rose to sign with them, suggesting they can offer more playing time and money in a better environment after Rose’s tumultuous season in New York, sources said.
Rose’s tumultuous season was due in part to Rose. No matter where he signs, he can’t escape himself. And Los Angeles is even further from his native Chicago.
But the Lakers can offer more money. They still have the $4,328,000 room exception. Rose would earn just $2,116,955 on a minimum salary from Cleveland, and the Cavs can bump that offer to only about $2.5 million. (That’d come with exponential additional costs, so they probably wouldn’t do that, anyway.)
The Lakers can also offer a larger role. Lonzo Ball can’t play every minute at point guard, and Rose would fill in the rest. They’ll likely add a point guard, Rose or not. The Cavaliers might be set with Kyrie Irving, Jose Calderon and Kay Felder if they don’t get Rose.
I’m not sure how Rose would work as a veteran mentor, especially on a one-year contract as he eyes a bigger payday next summer. But – say whatever else you want about him, and there’s plenty to say – Rose has remained impressively focused on basketball amid untold chaos. Ball – with outsized attention given LaVar and his media market – can probably relate.
James Harden spearheaded the Rockets’ recruitment of Chris Paul, but the MVP runner-up didn’t work alone.
Paul’s former New Orleans teammates Trevor Ariza and Bobby Brown added appeal.
So, unsurprisingly, with Paul in a contract year, Houston is re-signing Brown. The Rockets are also re-signing Troy Williams.
Alykhan Bijani of ESPN Houston:
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Brown is an undersized gunner who’s not nearly efficient enough to compensate for his defensive deficiencies, and he turns 33 before the season. But if he helps convince Paul to re-sign, it would be well worth keeping Brown on the roster all year.
The 22-year-old Williams, who went undrafted last year, is the far more intriguing player. A 6-foot-7 forward, he has the athleticism to stick in the NBA. His 3-point shot needs major development – though not quite as much if he becomes more adept at being a small-ball four, an easier task in Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo system.