Dwight Howard Lakers

Magic officials “disgusted” by Howard as they talk to Lakers, Knicks

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The Orlando Magic ownership — and that is who ultimately makes this call — is still deciding what to do.

Dwight Howard wants the Orlando Magic to “roll the dice” on him and keep him through the end of the season. It’s all about winning, he said. Don’t think this is about keeping his options open and making sure if he does leave via free agency this summer the franchise where he lands will not have gutted itself of good players to get him. Nope, not about that at all. It’s all about the winning.

Magic officials are still looking at their options — and talking trade — but Howard’s rant frustrated them, reports Ken Berger at CBSSports.com.

After Howard and Magic executives had promised each other to keep their conversations private, some team executives were privately disgusted with his public comments Tuesday night.

As Tom Ziller notes at SBN, those same “disgusted” officials would pretty much do anything — disgusting or otherwise — to get him to stay.

The Magic are still fielding offers for Howard in the event owner Rich DeVos decides he wants to trade Howard. That includes even talking to the Knicks, reports Sam Amick at Sports Illustrated. Which has to be exactly the kind of focused, professional franchise Howard always dreamed of playing for.

Sources say the Lakers and even the Knicks are among the teams who have engaged with the Magic in recent days. Howard has told close friends that he doesn’t want to play for the Lakers, but deals have been discussed between the two teams with the shared hope that he would change his stance.

While Golden State’s trade for Milwaukee center Andrew Bogut on Tuesday night took them out of the running for Howard in what would have been a “rental” situation, Houston remains willing to trade for Howard without any assurances that he will re-sign.

All the trade offers and whatever Howard himself says at this point is pure window dressings. The only thing that matters now is the call DeVos makes — he will make the decision on trading or keeping Howard. The ball is in his court.

Cavaliers’ owner emails David Stern to block Chris Paul trade to Lakers

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The three-team deal that was in place to send Chris Paul to the Lakers was killed by the league late Thursday, presumably at the behest of a group of small-market owners who loudly protested.

One such owner was Dan Gilbert of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who emailed the commissioner directly to express his feelings on the matter.

Thankfully, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports obtained Gilbert’s email in its entirety, which reads as follows (no, we are not going to reproduce it in Comic Sans):

Commissioner,

It would be a travesty to allow the Lakers to acquire Chris Paul in the apparent trade being discussed.

This trade should go to a vote of the 29 owners of the Hornets.

Over the next three seasons this deal would save the Lakers approximately $20 million in salaries and approximately $21 million in luxury taxes. That $21 million goes to non-taxpaying teams and to fund revenue sharing.

I cannot remember ever seeing a trade where a team got by far the best player in the trade and saved over $40 million in the process. And it doesn’t appear that they would give up any draft picks, which might allow to later make a trade for Dwight Howard. (They would also get a large trade exception that would help them improve their team and/or eventually trade for Howard.) When the Lakers got Pau Gasol (at the time considered an extremely lopsided trade) they took on tens of millions in additional salary and luxury tax and they gave up a number of prospects (one in Marc Gasol who may become a max-salary player).

I just don’t see how we can allow this trade to happen.

I know the vast majority of owners feel the same way that I do.

When will we just change the name of 25 of the 30 teams to the Washington Generals?

Please advise….

Dan G.

It’s interesting that we never heard any similar protests to trades from “Dan G.” when he had LeBron James leading his team to the league’s best regular season record in 2009 and 2010, isn’t it?

The bottom line is this for small-market owners lacking the superstars necessary to make their teams currently relevant: You chose money during the lockout over competitive balance. Had you gone for both, you wouldn’t have a season right now. Since you chose money, the players got to keep control over where they could play once they became free agents, thanks to the system rules (like luxury taxes and mid-level exceptions) which would allow the larger-market teams to spend what they wanted to get those star players.

The deal for Chris Paul that was in place was not unfair to the Hornets. It may have been unfair to the rest of the league, especially if it was a building block for the Lakers to trade for Dwight Howard next. But the small-market owners signed up for this when they went for the cash grab in the lockout instead of choosing to fix the league’s competitive balance issues.

The protest may have worked this time, because the league has ownership control of the Hornets. But the Lakers still have all of their assets in place to now go and trade for Dwight Howard. Only this time, there won’t be anything that the league or its small-market owners will be able to do to stop it.

Chris Paul deal does not improve the Lakers, unless a Dwight Howard deal is next

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If the three-team trade between the Lakers, Hornets, and Rockets is finalized as expected when the league opens for business on Friday morning, L.A. will have sent Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom out of town in exchange for Chris Paul  — and possibly another piece to make the salaries match, like Emeka Okafor. In doing so, L.A. gets the league’s best pure point guard, but gives away two of its three key frontcourt players responsible for two championships and three trips to the NBA Finals.

As exciting as it is to add a player like Paul, whose competitive fire is matched only by that of Kobe Bryant, it’s a big risk to blow up the core of a team as successful as L.A.’s has been, and to go in an entirely new direction for the first time in four seasons.

In short, if the Lakers are done dealing, they just got worse.

The thing is, in all likelihood, the Lakers aren’t finished at all. By pulling off the deal for Paul without giving up Andrew Bynum, there’s still a shot for L.A. to land Dwight Howard in a trade involving the Lakers’ young big.

But we’re not there just yet, so let’s take this one at face value. The Lakers’ size was a key component in getting them to those three straight Finals from 2008-2010, so sending two of those guys packing is no small decision.

Gasol is to this day tagged as being soft by the uninformed, but he’s among the most skilled all-around big men the league has to offer. He scores and rebounds at an All-Star level, and commands a double-team from most teams in the post, where he’s just as effective finding the open man when the help comes as he is scoring the basketball.

Odom famously doesn’t bring his best game every single night, but he’s as versatile a player that the league has, and would most certainly be in the starting lineup for all but a handful of teams. With the Lakers, he came off the bench. That’s an incredible asset to have playing with the second unit, and isn’t something that should be understated.

Now, there’s no question that the Lakers desperately needed an upgrade at the point guard position. Derek Fisher as a starter might have been passable in the semi-triangle offense, one that seemed to end more often than the team would have liked in isolations for Kobe Bryant. But with a new head coach in Mike Brown installing a new offensive system, Fisher was not going to have the playmaking ability to run a more traditional offense. In that regard, the Lakers couldn’t have dreamed of doing any better than landing Chris Paul.

Once you get past the point guard position, however, it becomes evident that the subtraction of Gasol and Odom presents more problems than the addition of Paul solves. Who would the Lakers start at power forward? (And center too, for that matter, considering Bynum’s suspension for the first five games of the season.) Where’s the size and versatility off the bench? Who will be there to protect the rim and rebound?

If the answer ends up being Dwight Howard, then the trade for Chris Paul absolutely makes sense, and the Lakers will be the favorites to win yet another NBA title this season. But if L.A. is unable to flip Bynum to Orlando in a deal for Howard, then their championship window just got a little bit smaller.