Hypothetical: What if the Lakers were able to team Dwight Howard with Andrew Bynum?

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From CBSSports.com:

Despite assertions to the contrary, the Lakers remain firmly on Howard’s list of three teams he’s asked to be traded to, along with the Nets and Mavericks, multiple people familiar with the situation said. The Lakers’ clear preference is to trade Pau Gasol in a Howard deal and not Andrew Bynum, who was elected as an All-Star starter for the first time this week.

via Postups: Recent coach changes may foreshadow ouster of some GMs – NBA – CBSSports.com News, Scores, Stats, Fantasy Advice.

So take a walk with me down hypothetical lane.

Let’s set up a series of possibilities:

  • Let’s say that Dwight Howard realizes Brooklyn is cold, that the Nets will have to surrender any semblance of talent they may have just to get him in trade outside of Deron Williams, and that he could wind up with Shawne Williams as his third best player.  The Nets still have to be considered the leaders for Howard, but let’s say they don’t land him.
  • Let’s say that the Lakers don’t ride their success out and decide to go for the home run.
  • Let’s also say they manage to get a deal done with Houston (you know, kind of like the one they already had done for an All-Star) to send Orlando the veterans they reportedly want instead of young players. They send out Pau Gasol and whatever else and don’t have to give up Bynum.
  • Let’s say they don’t immediately then swap out Bynum for Deron Williams which would be the next logical step given the abject panic that would result from the Nets. (Again, this is unlikely to happen, Nets fans, we’re focusing on a Lakers scenario here.)

What if the Lakers paired Bynum with Howard?

This is, naturally, insane. You don’t commit $30 million-plus to two centers. Their skill-sets overlap. It’s just beyond crazy. You’re talking about $60 million-plus being committed to three players down the line when the luxury tax goes bazooka.

The negatives are obvious. Who guards out in space against stretch fours? Can Howard cover in space that well? Wouldn’t teams just slot in a versatile oversized three at the four and bomb away? I mean, who’s guarding Ryan Anderson on that lineup?

But the, I mean. Come on. Who’s scoring in the paint versus that team? Two seven-foot centers with freakish athleticism? There would be no rebounds. There would be no shots in the paint. There would be nothing but an all-consuming maw down low. If the Lakers struggled to defend smaller lineups, smaller lineups would have no ability whatsoever to defend those twin towers. As long as there’s a competent swing man to facilitate a pass from one or the other out of a double team to the other one, you’re looking at a pretty unstoppable set.

Naturally, Kobe Bryant could have issues with this. Where are the shots going to come from?

There are a number of flawed ideas with this, but it is tantalizing. Lakers owner Jim Buss gets to keep his precious commodity in Bynum. The Lakers get the two best centers in the league. They overwhelm with size, and Kobe Bryant is set up for that sixth title. It fits well with Mike Brown’s offense. It’s too crazy to work, but it’s amazing to think about.

The reality is that the Lakers won’t get Howard without giving up Bynum, and if they do manage to, they’ll have to move Bynum to return scoring help. That’s how much this Howard situation can shift the league.

 

NBA apparently reviewing whether Russell Westbrook should be suspended for Thunder-Jazz Game 5

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The NBA has a hard rule during altercations: Any players who leave the bench area receives a one-game suspension. Intent doesn’t matter. It’s not negotiable. The league simply doesn’t want more players entering a fracas.

Russell Westbrook found a gray area last night.

The Thunder star was waiting to check into Oklahoma City’s Game 4 loss to the Jazz when Raymond Felton fouled Rudy Gobert, um, unpleasantly. Gobert and Felton got into it, though not immediately. Once they did, Westbrook walked onto the court, and he and Gobert swiped at each other.

Gobert and Felton eventually received technical fouls. But could harsher punishment be in store, especially for Westbrook?

Andy Larsen of KSL.com:

A pool reporter request to the game officials to ask them about the play was initiated, but the NBA indicated that the officials wouldn’t comment on the matter because it would be reviewed by the league’s disciplinary committee.

The key question should be: Did a referee already beckon Westbrook into the game? If one did, Westbrook shouldn’t be suspended. If none did, Westbrook should be suspended.

The league will talk to the refs and get a better understanding of what happened. Their account matters most.

But one indicator working against Westbrook: Steven Adamswhose toughness is beyond reproach – was also waiting to check in and stayed on the sideline. If Adams had already entered the game, wouldn’t he have gotten involved? Maybe not, but his hanging back is circumstantial evidence pointing toward a Westbrook suspension.

Again, though, the referees’ accounts matter far more.

Russell Westbrook on matchup with Ricky Rubio: ‘Let’s get past that. We’re done with that’

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After Ricky Rubio‘s 26-point triple-double in Game 3, Russell Westbrook said, “I’ma shut that s— off next game though. Guarantee that.”

Westbrook definitely tried. The Thunder star defended Rubio far more aggressively in Game 4 last night. But Westbrook also fouled Rubio four times in the first half and played too out of control, committing five turnovers. Rubio (13 points, eight rebounds, six assists) wasn’t nearly as individually excellent, but his passing keyed the Jazz’s offense.

Most importantly, Utah outscored Oklahoma City by 12 in the 30 minutes the point guards shared the court and won 113-96 to take a 3-1 series lead.

How did the matchup with Rubio go, Russ?

Westbrook:

It’s not about me and him. Let’s get past that. We’re done with that.

How convenient.

Westbrook is the one who brought attention to the individual matchup. He took stopping Rubio upon himself. Now, when it didn’t go well, Westbrook suddenly doesn’t want to talk about it?

Maybe Westbrook realized he got carried away, to the detriment of his team. It’s not too late to fix that, and this could be his attempt to do so before Game 5 Wednesday.

But he also must own the egg on his face for putting the spotlight on Westbrook-Rubio and then dodging the attention once the matchup went south.

Rockets 50, Timberwolves 20: Most dominant playoff quarter in shot-clock era (video)

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James Harden missed a floater and clapped in frustration. The Rockets’ third quarter in Game 4 against the Timberwolves didn’t get off to a great start. Harden’s shooting had underwhelmed since Game 2.

Then, Harden and Houston broke out of the funk – in a big way.

The Rockets outscored Minnesota 50-20 in the third quarter of their 119-100 victory last night, giving Houston a 3-1 lead in the first-round series. The 30-point margin in the third quarter was tied for the most lopsided playoff quarter in the shot-clock era:

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Harden singlehandedly outscored the Timberwolves himself, 23-20. Paul added 15.

The Rockets shot 5-of-10 on 2-pointers, 9-of-13 on 3-pointers and 13-of-13 on free throws. Houston committed no turnovers and offensively rebounded a third of its misses.

It was incredible output, even for the NBA’s best offense.

The Rockets’ 50 points were second-most in a playoff quarter – and the most in a victory – in the shot-clock era. The leaderboard:

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As expected, Wesley Matthews says he will pick up $18.6 million option with Mavericks

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Wesley Matthews still has value as an NBA player.

However, he doesn’t have $18.6 million in value on the open market right now — especially in what will be a tight market this summer — so he’s going to take the cash on the table. Matthews is going to opt into the $18.6 million in the final year of his contract (the final season of a four-year, $70 million deal), he told Dwain Price of the Mavericks’ official website.

He said he will pick up that option and return and play next season with the Mavs.

“Obviously that’s something that hasn’t been on my mind,” Matthews said. “That’s what you have an agent for and agencies for.

“Like I said, I don’t plan on being anywhere else. And now it’s just focusing on getting back healthy, which I am now, and getting on this court.”

Matthews missed the final 16 games of last season with a stress fracture in his right fibula, and played in just 63 games total. He has been cleared to resume basketball activities now and is back on his workout routine.

Matthews biggest value has been on the defensive end, where he has been good on the wing for Dallas. Offensively, he averaged 12.7 points per game last season, shooting an improved 38.1 percent from three and with a true shooting percentage right around the league average at 54.1. He’s been solid in Dallas, a glue guy and a veteran example for young players such as Dennis Smith Jr., although they paid him that contract to be more than just solid.

Matthews name came up in trade rumors last deadline, and now that he has an expiring deal you can expect his name to come up again this summer and into next season (if he’s not moved). He’s an interesting trade piece who could help a lot of playoff-bound teams, something the Mavericks are not likely to be.