Report: In 2012, Magic had deal in place to trade Dwight Howard to the Rockets

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Dwight Howard made the decision to join the Rockets in free agency this summer, but he could have been playing for Houston last season and skipped the largely unpleasant experience he had with the Lakers entirely.

Howard was in the process of forcing his way out of Orlando late in March of 2012, but ultimately opted in for the final year of his contract — a move which kept him in town through the end of the regular season, and eventually saw him traded to Los Angeles that summer.

Had he not done so, the Magic had a deal in place to trade Howard to the Rockets.

From Ken Berger of CBSSports.com:

League sources confirmed that the Magic and Rockets did, in fact, tentatively agree to a trade in March 2012 that both sides were prepared to follow through on had Howard forced the Magic’s hand and kept his right to opt out after the season and become a free agent. It would’ve involved at least some of the young assets that were so attractive to Howard this summer when he chose the Rockets as a free agent. (Magic officials, according to sources, later told Rockets officials that they preferred Houston’s deal to Brooklyn’s.) Thus, while Howard gave up some money in the short term to leave LA, he wound up on a roster that didn’t have to be decimated to acquire him.

Brooklyn was reportedly a preferred destination of Howard’s, but there wouldn’t have been much left in terms of assets had Howard been traded to the Nets — a situation that long-term wasn’t all that appealing.

Howard has always had trouble seeing past the immediate future, however, and the Nets, as they did this summer by adding Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, would certainly have found a way to surround Howard with top-level talent had a trade for him materialized.

Ultimately, Howard ended up in Houston anyway, where he wanted to be and where he was wanted. But it could have happened a season sooner if only he’d had a more unwavering vision of the place where he wanted to spend his future.

Lonzo Ball finishes one-handed alley-oop on Willie Cauley-Stein (video)

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So much attention is paid to Lonzo Ball‘s father, jumper and passes. Those are the major storylines for the Lakers rookie.

But he has such a diverse skill set, and this is absolutely part of it. Ball is a savvy off-ball cutter in the halfcourt with the athleticism to get above the rim and finish alley-oops.

But finish them over 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein, who was tracking the play (though slightly late)? That’s an eye-opener, even in the Kings’ 113-102 win.

Marc Gasol makes 3/4-court shot just after buzzer (video)

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When Marc Gasol‘s 3/4-court attempt went through the net, it seemed to barely matter the ball left his hands just after the first-quarter buzzer. After all, the Grizzlies led the Mavericks by 15, anyway.

Turns out, Memphis really needed that basket.

Watch Knicks string together 28-0 run against Raptors

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Toronto has been the second best team in the East this young season. Not that anyone is really convinced they will be called that by the time we get to the playoffs (or even the All-Star break, or even Christmas), but for the first 16-18 games of the season their new move-the-ball offense had them at 11-5 and looking solid.

Wednesday night the Knicks dismantled the Raptors.

Especially in the third quarter when the Knicks went on a 28-0 run to blow the doors off the Raptors (video above). The Knicks dominated the third 41-10, when Toronto shot just 1-of-16 from the floor.

New York is gaining confidence with each win this season, they are a fun team to watch that is starting to find an identity (now that a certain three-sided shaped one is not being forced upon them). Kristaps Porzingis is a monster, and while the Knicks overpaid the market for Tim Hardaway Jr. he has lived up to his contract this season. With rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina showing some nice defense and playmaking skills as a rookie (although he is undoubtedly still a work in progress), you can see a path to a strong future unfolding. There are real reasons for hope in New York. Someone just keep James Dolan distracted and away from the basketball operations side of the building.

Devin Booker forces OT with deep turnaround buzzer-beating 3-pointer, but Bucks beat Suns (video)

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I’m not sure who benefited from Devin Booker‘s buzzer-beating, overtime-forcing 3-pointer. The Suns still lost to the Bucks, 113-107. The extra five minutes featured more of the same relatively bad basketball we’d seen between Phoenix (bad) and Milwaukee (shorthanded) through 48 minutes.

But darn if this shot wasn’t really cool and clutch.