Time to admit I was wrong again. It’s something in this business that you better get a grasp of quickly or you aren’t going to be really respected regardless of accurate you are. I was pretty certain that Dwight Howard was going to re-sign with the Los Angeles Lakers for a couple of reasons.
First among those was money. Only the Lakers could have paid Howard the maximum deal of $118 million. The most any other team could have paid him was $88 million. Secondly, Los Angeles offered him a pretty good group around him and within a couple of more years Howard would have been the face of the team should Kobe Bryant retire when he says he will.
I had Howard pegged as a guy who would ultimately put money and the spotlight of La-La land ahead of titles but it appears I was wrong as he has confirmed via Twitter that he is going to the Houston Rockets.
Already the drama and speculation is running rampant. One sports book in Las Vegas has already moved the Rockets from 25-1 to win the NBA Title up to 10-1 and current Rockets’ center Omer Asik has now publicly stated he doesn’t want to play second fiddle to Howard. It’s very possible the seven-footer who started all 82 games for the Rockets will demand a trade.
If he does, there has already been a suggestion that he could be involved in a sign-and-trade deal with the Atlanta Hawks. Why the Hawks? Because this is where the ‘sign-and-trade’ part of the deal comes in with Josh Smith who is a childhood friend of Howard. The two played on the same summer-league basketball teams during high school.
Speaking of high school, this is exactly the maturity level of the parties involved. J.A. Adande of ESPN.com reported that the Lakers’ Bryant ‘unfollowed’ Howard on Twitter and then posted a picture of himself with Lakers’ big man Pau Gasol. Bryant had been part of the group that met with Howard earlier this week in an attempt to keep him in Los Angeles.
Howard has said numerous times since this entire mess started back in his final year in Orlando that his number one goal is to win a championship. I don’t know Dwight Howard but I know enough about his actions and motives to question if that is really true. Honestly, I think he will have a better chance to win in Houston than in Los Angeles in the immediate future especially if the Josh Smith deal happens.
Don’t think that money and fame isn’t part of this though. In LA, Howard would have never been able to escape the shadow of Kobe and he knew it. Toss in the fact that Mike D’Antoni was not an attractive coach to keep Howard in LA either. In Houston, Howard immediately becomes the face of the Rockets franchise which is used to big men being the focus going back to the days of Ralph Sampson and Hakeen Olajuwon.
Don’t forget this very key point either; Houston is a rapidly growing city with a massive amount of Chinese fans from Yao Ming’s days. With Jeremy Lin running the point now, the growth of NBA fans across the Pacific rim continues to increase. That means even more exposure for Howard in terms of jersey sales and potential endorsements.
This move to Houston was not made in New York minute. I believe Howard and his group did their homework and found that Houston will offer Howard great opportunities to make big money. Oh and the chance to win a title as well.