We know that wherever Dwight Howard chooses to play for the next four or five seasons, despite what he may try to put out there publicly at this point, the decision will be about more than just basketball.
Howard was said to be intrigued by the Lakers not only due to having the immediate opportunity to win there, but also because Los Angeles is a major media market, and the center of the universe where the entertainment industry is concerned.
It’s been said more than once that Howard’s interests in exploring personal marketing opportunities outside of basketball will be almost as important as the roster he’s surrounded with next season, so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the two teams favored to to land Dwight in free agency are including that piece as a part of their respective presentations to him in free agency.
The Rockets made their pitch to Howard Sunday night, and of course, it went well — as if they’d say otherwise. Besides trotting out team legends like Yao Ming and Trail Blazers great Clyde Drexler (who played a whopping three and a half of his 15 NBA seasons in Houston), the organization included a local cable television opportunity as part of its package.
The Lakers, naturally, will do the same when they sit down to get the last word in with Howard on Tuesday.
Time Warner Cable in Los Angeles televises all Lakers home and away games, and fills the vast majority of its programming — seriously, it has to be north of 80 percent — with studio shows or behind-the-scenes, documentary-style footage of the team throughout the season.
Like the billboard campaign the Lakers have been widely mocked for, this is just another piece of the puzzle in terms of what courting Howard requires. And it’s one that both L.A. and Houston are wise not to overlook when engaging in those final discussions.
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.
Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.
His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.
Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.
Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.
As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.
Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.
Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.
Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.
Maybe a little too pumped.
That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.
Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.
(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)
The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.
While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”
Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”
We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.
Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.