This really is not a game changer. It isn’t. And I’ll explain why in a minute.
But Dwight Howard’s agent Don Fegan made a splash late Thursday saying Howard would test the free agent waters next summer regardless of where he is traded (or if he is traded). Here is the quote from Fegan to Ric Bucher of ESPN.
“Dwight’s position has remained unchanged since the end of this past season,” said Dan Fegan of LaGardere Unlimited. “He fully intends to explore free agency at the end of next season, regardless of what team trades for him, including Brooklyn.”
Here is why that makes me yawn — of course he was going to become a free agent and not sign an extension, it’s a $40 million (or so) guaranteed money difference. Under the terms of the new CBA if Howard signed an extension tomorrow or any time this season it can only be for three more years after this one. If he plays out this season and becomes a free agent then re-signs with the team he is on he can get five years with larger raises. It’s what Deron Williams did.
So, to be clear, even if he is traded to the Lakers today and he wants to stay in L.A.long-term, it makes financial sense for him to become a free agent next summer then just re-sign with the team.
The agent speak from Fegan about Howard exploring free agency is him covering his bases. It is not an expression of the reality of how this goes down.
I think Howard will re-sign wherever he gets traded — Los Angeles, Houston, Brooklyn, some other late comer. The reason is not just the money in the deal (discussed above) it is about long-term endorsement money. Fair or not Howard had shredded his reputation in a LeBronesque way during this process — do you think after all that he wants to play out his contract and start a public free agent frenzy for his services? That would be the one thing that would make him look worse right now.
But no, Howard will not sign an extension with anyone. He never was going to. But that doesn’t mean he leaves wherever he ends up suiting up for next season.
The Spurs have been the Spurs this season, going 19-8 with an elite defense and offense that’s good enough to get them wins, thanks to LaMarcus Aldridge playing at an All-Star level.
Starting Tuesday, they add Kawhi Leonard back to the mix.
He will return to the lineup against Dallas, but will be on a minutes restriction, coach Gregg Popovich said on Tuesday. He would not say how many minutes, although around 20 seems a logical starting spot.
Leonard is one of the five best players in the NBA (and that may be selling him short). He averaged a career-high 25.5 points a game last season, he’s arguably the best perimeter defender in the NBA, and he finished third in the MVP voting last season.
However, there are going to be adjustments. LaMarcus Aldridge has been the focal point of the offense, but he could see fewer touches, particularly in crunch time. Kyle Anderson could see fewer minutes, and Rudy Gay may as well because Popovich liked some small-ball lineups last season with Leonard at the four. A lot of players will see their rotations change.
That said, it’s the Spurs. Do we really expect them to be anything but an incredibly good regular season team? One that is about to get better?
The injuries just keep hitting the Pelicans. Guys like Solomon Hill and Alexis Ajinca are out for extended periods of time. Anthony Davis has missed four of the team’s last six games and is questionable for Wednesday night due to a left adductor injury.
Now comes the news that reserve guard Tony Allen will be out three to four weeks due to a nondisplaced left proximal fibula fracture, the team announced Tuesday. This is the part of the bone near the ankle.
Allen has played a limited role for New Orleans off the bench this season, averaging 12.4 minutes a game, and averaging 4.7 points. His reputation is that of a defensive stopper, and when he is on the court this season the Pelicans’ defense has been 5.6 points per 100 possessions better. However, father time has started to catch up with him and he is not the defender he once was.
Expect the minutes to bump up for Jrue Holiday and E'Twaun Moore with this injury, which is not a bad thing as they have played well (they were knocking down threes against the Rockets Monday like they were named Curry), plus Ian Clark could get a little more run.
Kawhi Leonard, enabled by the Spurs’ no-nonsense culture, is probably the NBA’s most boring superstar.
He’s widely recognized as the league’s best defender, and he has worked himself into an elite offensive threat. He has already won a Finals MVP, and regular-season MVP could eventually be in the cards.
But Leonard is notoriously reserved. For someone who has been on this stage for so long, we know little about him.
Except we now know he apparently likes karate.
Gonna chop y’all up. Look at all of us. Karate styyyle.
If “karate styyyle” doesn’t become Leonard’s catchphrase, I don’t even know what we’re doing.
Leonard will finally have the chance to chop up an NBA opponent tonight, when he makes his return from injury.
Michael C. Wright of ESPN:
Kevin Durant has become a villain to many.
Clearly not to this Warriors fan, though.