BY: KWAME FISHER-JONES
The Oklahoma City Thunder are quietly keeping tabs on the most desired big man since Shaquille O’Neal and the longer it takes for Dwight to share his services with a new suitor, the more likely it becomes OKC will become the lucky gent.
On January 28, 2012, yours truly wrote about six dark horse teams who were sniffing around the NBA’s biggest tease. Number one on that list was the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder offer three things the Magic need and most of all, the one thing they want in any deal involving Howard.
Number one in the need department is bodies. The Magic will never say this publicly but they are well aware they are headed to “Rebuildville” once Howard exits Disney World. Acquiring a quasi-star player who thinks he is better than he actually is would stifle Orlando. However, three starters who play hard in Serge Ibaka, James Harden, and Kendrick Perkins would soften the eventual death blow to the franchise.
Franchise players are hard to attain, however, tradable assets to acquire franchise players are even harder to come by.
Harden, Perkins, and Ibaka all offer valuable services to a team and would be welcomed additions to teams who have championship aspirations. Most of all, they would serve as overvalued assets to teams who have delusions of championship grandeur, in the form of first round picks. These squads believe they are closer to the Larry O’Brien trophy than to lottery balls.
Unfortunately, for those clubs they end up sucking and their pain would bring Orlando joy.
The final need is cap flexibility. The only thing worse than being horrible, is being broke and horrible. In life we all are looking for a discount or the cheapest price. Whether it is cutting coupons or driving to unsafe neighborhoods and meeting strange cats in alleys. We as a society will go above and beyond for “the best deal.” NBA owners are the same way.
If an owner’s teams are winning it is acceptable to pay 10 but if their teams are losing anything over negative one might cost some people their jobs. Even with Howard, Orlando is a good distance from a championship parade, but without him they aren’t even in the same stratosphere as a championship.
Ibaka and Harden are both headed to free agency after the 2013-2014 season, which is just one season after Howard would hit free agency. Orlando, faced with the opportunity to add a young shot-blocker and the former sixth man of the year both in their primes and both playing for their NBA lives, would have to tempt the Magic. Once you add in the mobile home that is Kendrick Perkins it is hard to fathom Orlando receiving a better offer.
Disney’s basketball dream would like nothing more than to have Howard out of the Eastern Conference, above all. Just the thought of possibly seeing him in a playoff match-up is too much to bear for all parties concerned. Sending D12 west has to be tops on new Orlando Magic General Manager Rob Hennigan’s list of things to do. In a twist of fate Hennigan was recently employed by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The longer Howard plays the “psyche your mind” game, the more likely it is he is dealt to OKC. The Thunder are coming off a season of tremendous growth and appear on the cusp of winning an NBA title. The addition of Howard to a line-up of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Nick Collison, and a front office that strikes gold with every draft pick made, would be formidable for years to come.
One of the greatest obstacles in life is deciphering between what one wants and what one needs. Dwight Howard wants the Brooklyn Nets and the allure of the big city has the Georgia native believing he can shine in such a bright light. It is this want that could cost the big man his career and eventual trip to the Hall-of-Fame.
If D12 cannot handle the spotlight that comes with leading the Orlando Magic and pending free agency, he would shrivel under the lights of the city that never sleeps. In the city of eight million stories Howard’s would be number one. If the light in Orlando was too bright and that is what brought about his moral indiscretions, what would the blinding lights of the concrete jungle do?
Howard needs an environment conducive to the immaturity that runs parallel in the life of a child prodigy. The young man needs quiet, even though he wants ruckus. Howard needs a community that will support his success as well as his failures. Lastly, he needs a city that offers a pat on the back for encouragement instead of the back page of the newspaper.
Los Angeles is in pursuit, Brooklyn is desired, but it is Oklahoma City that is necessary for Howard. The Orlando Magic’s new General Manager is a former Oklahoma City Thunder front office member, how or why that happened is unexplainable.
It is time for Howard to rewrite his-story. Somewhere between success and failure is where the young man rests and his next move could be an awakening or a termination. Brooklyn is not where the indecisive and unaccountable flourish. It is where the weak never get a second chance.