Tag: Dwight Howard

Orlando Magic v Atlanta Hawks - Game Six

Dwight Howard talks about his exit from Orlando, explains reasons for asking Magic to fire Stan Van Gundy


Dwight Howard became a villain of sorts among basketball fans, for the way he chose to exit two separate organizations.

His divorce from the Magic was as messy as possible, and involved him asking for the team to fire then-head coach Stan Van Gundy, and going back and forth about opting in and out of the final year of his deal before finally demanding a trade out of town.

In a new documentary entitled “Dwight Howard: In The Moment”, Howard candidly explains his side of the story.

From Marc Stein of ESPN.com:

Dwight on asking Magic management to make a coaching change after Orlando’s first-round exit in the 2011 playoffs:

“We shouldn’t be losing like this. I wanted to win. And I went to management and I said: ‘Guys, I’m a player. I just want to give my two cents. I think that our coach has lost his touch with the team. Great coach, but I think he’s lost his touch, I think he’s lost his voice. And I think it’s time that you guys get a new voice.’ I said, ‘I love him as a coach, but I think we need a new voice.’ … Six weeks [later], they finally respond [and say], ‘We’re gonna keep Stan.’ So I’m like: ‘OK. That lets me know how you guys feel about your leader expressing how to make the team better.’ ”

Dwight on the trade demand that soon followed:

“That summer I just thought about what I needed for my career. And when I got back [to Orlando], I let those guys know that I wanted to be traded. … I just wanted a change for myself. I didn’t want it to be done publicly. I just wanted it to happen silently. And I’d go to a new team, start fresh. Well, it didn’t happen that way. … The season comes around and they asked me to come to the office, shook my hand and they said, ‘We’re gonna trade you tomorrow.’ The next day the trade didn’t happen, but they came out and said I wanted to be traded. And that’s when everything went downhill. And I feel like I should have came out and said some things at that point to let people know what was going on, but in that situation I really didn’t know what to do.”

Howard has a right to tell management how he perceives the team’s relationship with its head coach, but management has the right to realize that really good coaches at the NBA level are few and far between, and keeping one (as they wanted to do with Van Gundy at the time) was far from something that should have caused Howard to be as offended as he was.

As for the part about wanting his trade demand kept quiet, it’s tough to envision that happening under any circumstances, even if the organization had the best intentions. Anytime a player of Howard’s caliber is on the market, for whatever reason, it’s going to be national news that’s impossible to keep under wraps. But where Howard was wrong about Van Gundy, he’s right in that if the team “came out and said” he wanted to be traded, that caused an unnecessary firestorm that he was (perhaps unfairly) forced to deal with.

Howard also left the Lakers under less than pleasant circumstances, although as an unrestricted free agent, there was no reason for him to call for the coach to be fired or demand to be traded; he could simply leave an extra $30 million or so on the table to play somewhere else. That’s the path Howard chose, and as has been well-documented by now, his relationship (or lack thereof) with Kobe Bryant played the biggest part in his decision.

The quote, again via Stein:

“Before I got to the Lakers, I would talk to him [and] he would really help me out on the [down] low about how to become everything that I said I wanted to be. And I looked up to him and I looked up to everything he, as a basketball player, stood for. … [By the end of that season] I just felt so hurt and disappointed in the fact that the guy that I was expecting to be somebody who was gonna pass the torch, somebody to say, ‘Dwight, I’ll take you under my wing and I’ll show you how to get it done’ … it was none of that.”

Kobe Bryant is not in any way the singular reason the Lakers franchise finds itself where it is today. But the way he clashed with Howard is undoubtedly the reason that Dwight now plays for the Houston Rockets.

Stan Van Gundy’s Pistons still a work in progress

Stan Van Gundy

CHICAGO — Stan Van Gundy had to know this wasn’t going to happen overnight.

When the former Miami Heat and Orlando Magic coach took on a joint role as the Detroit Pistons’ head coach and president of basketball operations, he was taking over a team that had been directionless for the better part of a decade, a once-dominant Eastern Conference contender destroyed by years of incompetence and mismanagement.

This Pistons team has talent. Andre Drummond is a blossoming superstar at the center position, and second-year shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope still has yet to tap into his potential. Van Gundy brought in veteran shooter Jodie Meeks, who has been sidelined to start the year. There are pieces there. But Monday’s 106-101 loss to the Bulls in Chicago showed that the team is still not where they need to be, and it’s unclear when they’ll get there.

“We didn’t guard anybody,” Van Gundy said matter-of-factly after the game. “We didn’t compete. You gotta play for 48 minutes. And then you got to get stops down the stretch and you got to make plays.”

At the top of the list of issues they need to solve is the clogged frontcourt rotation. Van Gundy has been starting Drummond, Greg Monroe and Josh Smith together, a unit that was a disaster last season and hasn’t been much better in the early going of the new one. In 53 minutes this season, they’re scoring just 98.8 points per 100 possessions when all three are on the floor, and Van Gundy is playing the three bigs together more out of necessity than out of effectiveness.

He went to the big lineup late not because it was working, but because he wanted to have all three players available.

“”The problem I ran into, I actually didn’’t want to break that lineup but I was afraid we’’d need all of them needing a rest at the exact same time,” Van Gundy said.

Smith’s inconsistency and offensive liability is still a major problem for the Pistons. The veteran power forward is a capable defender, and he had a major impact on that end on Monday. But his shot selection is still awful. With just over three minutes to go in the fourth quarter, with the Pistons trailing by four, he jacked up a three-pointer with 10 seconds left on the shot clock that rimmed out.

Van Gundy is a notoriously hard man to please. He doesn’t dance around his displeasure with his team’s performance, and in his Orlando days, he was as widely known for his yelling in timeouts as he was for his playcalling. In large part, it seems like he took the Pistons job because of Drummond’s talent and the promise that he could do with the third-year center what he did with Dwight Howard in Orlando, turning him into a dominant force on the defensive end.

But it’s been a slow process. Drummond has remained terrific defensively, but has been slow to develop any kind of an offensive game. And the rest of the team has been testing Van Gundy’s patience, showing flashes of cohesion (like the run to erase the 19-point first-half deficit against Chicago) mixed in with plenty of frustration (the lackadaisical defensive effort that led to that hole in the first place). All of this has resulted in a 2-3 record and not a lot of encouraging signs that things are going to get better anytime soon.

“We know what we are capable of, we just have to do it for a full game,” Monroe said after the game. “We have the talent to play at that level of energy from the beginning to the end of the game. We just have to find a way to do that.”

Van Gundy signed a five-year deal, so he’s in this for the long haul. The team is still several roster moves from competing, and they have to do something about the frontcourt rotation. If there’s any coach who can turn this team around, it’s Van Gundy. But it’s going to take time.

PBT’s NBA Power Rankings: Things still golden for Warriors at top of the list

Los Angeles Clippers v Golden State Warriors

This early in the season, the power rankings feel like small sample size theater. Teams move up and down quickly as we try to get a feel for how good they really are (and we don’t have the data to really know that yet). There are teams in this list I think will fall as we move along, others that will rise (hello San Antonio), but where is where I have things as of the second week of the season.

source:  1. Warriors (5-1, Last Week No. 1). After their win over the Rockets Saturday coach Steve Kerr came down hard on his team speaking to the media — that’s a smart coach trying not to let a hot start go to their heads (they lost the next night to Phoenix). But also he was right, they have had sloppy moments early they just survived. David Lee is out but Draymond Green has been a rock solid fill in — 12.8 points a game, .576 true shooting percentage and 7.4 rebounds a game. Good time to do it, he’s a restricted free agent next summer.

source:  2. Rockets (6-1, LW 4). Easy for the Rockets to dismiss the loss to the Warriors — no Dwight Howard, Patrick Beverley or Terrence Jones and it was still tied midway through the fourth. They need Howard on offense to really work inside out. Three winnable games this week (Timberwolves, Sixers, Thunder).

source:  3. Grizzlies (6-1, LW 10). That impressive record looks a little shaky upon closer inspection — they are 21st in the NBA in offense and their bench has been nonexistent. But they have their next seven at home so look for the wins to keep piling up.

source:  4. Raptors (6-1, LW 11). Winners of four in a row thanks to the backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, they are building up a nice early cushion in the East toward their goal of at least one playoff round at home (and with that advancing to the second round or beyond). They are in the middle of a seven-game home stand so expect them to pad that cushion a little more.

source:  5. Bulls (5-2, LW 9). Early on this feels like the Bizzaro Bulls team — they are fourth in the league in offense but middle of the pack (17th) on defense. You know that will change over time, but Tom Thibodeau is trying to lean on his bench guys more and they are not playing good defense, that is what is hurting the numbers.

source:  6. Kings (5-2, LW 12). They swept a home-and-home with struggling Denver then beat Phoenix, but they way they played in a loss to OKC Sunday has me thinking this ranking may be generous. We’ll have a better sense of this team after this week when they are at Dallas, at Memphis then host the Spurs.

source:  7. Heat (5-2, LW 3). This is a fun team to watch on the offensive side of the ball because they share it — they have the most assists per 100 possessions in the NBA this season. That ball movement helped get them a nice win over Dallas on Sunday. But their defense isn’t going to win them games, they need to outscore teams.

source:  8. Clippers (4-2, LW 7). The least impressive 4-2 team in the league, their defensive rotations and their energy level have just not been impressive in any game. Plus, Lob City has taken fewer shot attempts in the restricted area than any other team in the NBA so far this season.

source:  9. Wizards (5-2, LW 13). That’s a nice record considering the offense has yet to find a good groove without Bradley Beal in the lineup. They’ve done it with a top five defense and could pad that record with only Detroit and Orlando on the schedule this week.

source:  10. Trail Blazers (4-3. LW 18). They are +7.4 points per 100 possessions as a team, meaning they are playing better than their record indicates. Good news for them that what looked like it could have a bad injury for Nicolas Batum is just a contusion.

source:  11. Nets (4-2, LW 15). They have the second best points per 100 possessions differential in the East (trailing only Toronto) — they also have played a very soft schedule. Let’s see how they look after this week on the road in Phoenix, Golden State and Portland.

source:  12. Mavericks (4-3, LW 6). They have the best offense in the NBA this young season gut have ugly losses to the Heat and Blazers because their defense has been terrible. Dirk Nowitzki should pass Hakeem Olajuwon for ninth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list at home against the Kings this week.

source:  13. Suns (4-3, LW 10). There are moments Isaiah Thomas has looked like the sixth man of the year this season, there are moments (like against his former team the Kings) when he can’t seem to find a rhythm off the bench. It’s a good thing he’s had big nights because Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe have looked pedestrian and have yet to really find a rhythm this season.

source:  14. Pelicans (3-2, LW 19). Anthony Davis made the late driving layup to lift the Pelicans over the Spurs this week, and that felt a little like a “we have arrived” moment for New Orleans. We’ll see if they can continue that momentum Monday taking on the Cavaliers on the road.

source:  15. Spurs (2-3, LW 5). Kawhi Leonard says his sight isn’t fully right yet, and they miss Tiago Splitter inside, he’s been out injured. That beautiful Spurs offense we saw last season is bottom five in the league right now, but does anybody expect that to last? Didn’t think so. Good road tests against the Clippers and Warriors this week as they take on all the California teams.

source:  16. Cavaliers (2-3 LW 8). They are going to miss Matthew Dellavedova (out six weeks with an ACL sprain), he was getting a lot of run and they don’t have a replacement as good as him. The offense shows moments of finding itself but that 27th ranked defense is the real issue and thing that needs to improve.

source:  17. Celtics (3-3, LW 25). Good news that Marcus Smart is only out a couple weeks, he’s been a rookie to watch. A team leaning on Evan Turner and Jeff Green is as unpredictable night-to-night as you would expect (and with Smart out we get more Turner).

source:  18. Jazz (3-4, LW 26). They picked up an exciting win over the Cavaliers on a Gordon Hayward game winner, plus Dante Exum is coming along a little faster than expected. Put this team on your League Pass watch list, they play hard and their games are entertaining.

source:  19. Hornets (3-4, LW 21). One of the most disappointing teams in the early going. They lack shooting from the outside (29 percent from three and their offense has no spark, ranked 25th in the league. They lost to the Lakers and that was the easy part of the road trip, now they get Portland, Phoenix and Golden State.

source:  20. Bucks (3-4, LW 24). They’ve had a soft schedule so it was a little hard to read them, then the Bucks went out and handed Memphis its only loss. This has looked like a strong defensive team, but that will get tested by Miami this week.

source:  21. Hawks (2-3, LW 16). You know the game plan every team has for the Hawks includes the line “don’t help off Kyle Korver at the arc” yet he gets open and is shooting a ridiculous 61.3 percent from three to start the season. Also, young German point guard Dennis Schroder is starting to look like a guy Mike Budenholzer can lean on in the rotation.

source:  22. Timberwolves (2-4, LW 23). Ricky Rubio has been key to the couple of Timberwolves wins — he shot 47.6 in those games and was a +15. He struggled with his shot in their losses. Fans may love rookie Zach LaVine but he is a big drop off from Rubio and it’s going to show while the Spaniard is out.

source:  23. Pistons (2-4, LW 27). Stan Van Gundy started the Josh Smith/Greg Monroe/Andre Drummond trio and it wasn’t terrible (they have played 38 minutes together and are +5). But I’m far from sold they can sustain that, especially as the competition gets tougher this week (Bulls, Wizards and Grizzlies all on the road).

source:  24. Knicks (2-5, LW 14). They have dropped four in a row, the offense has more resembled a trapezoid, and their defense has been atrocious. On the bright side they are home this week with some winnable games (Orlando, Denver), plus New Yorkers can still get the best bagels anywhere. That should be some consolation.

source:  25. Thunder (2-5, LW 17).. There were signs of hope in the win over the Kings Sunday, the best game the Thunder have played so far this season. This week they face a few other struggling teams (Bucks, Pistons) and maybe can pick up some wins and try to tread water until the help arrives next month.

source:  26. Nuggets (1-5, LW 20). Kenneth Faried told PBT this week that the slow starts for the Nuggets is all about them trying to get guys back from injury all together on the same page. Said it’s been a challenge as small injuries have had guys in and out of lineup, but he also said in the West they know they have to figure it out sooner rather than later.

source:  27. Magic (2-5, LW 29). They picked up a couple of wins and rookie point guard Elfrid Payton seems to be learning from being thrown into the fire, he’s had a couple solid games. Tobias Harris is dangerous with the ball in his hands at the ends of games.

source:  28. Lakers (1-5, LW 28). They picked up a nice win over struggling Charlotte (five days rest helped), which was a good one because the schedule is not kind for the next couple weeks. Byron Scott needs to play Ed Davis and Jeremy Lin more and together.

source:  29. Pacers (1-6, LW 22). Nice game by Donald Sloan dropping 31 on the Wizards but the injury gods continue to show the Pacers no mercy, now with Roy Hibbert going to play through a sore knee. Their only win is against the Sixers but with Utah and Denver at home this week maybe that changes. Maybe.

source:  30. 76ers (0-7, LW 30). The last winless team in the Association, but at least Tony Wroten is putting up numbers — he is putting up 21.9 points a game, by far the best on the team. He’s a guy that really worked to improve his game (we could see the improvement at Summer League) and now it’s paying off.