Tag Archives: Los Angeles

Does the addition of Dwight Howard make Houston a championship contender?

By: Jon

After two years of the “Dwightmare”, sources are reporting that Howard has signed for th max with the Houston Rockets. Only a year ago, many NBA experts thought that the Rockets had almost no chance of landing the prized center. However, a year has gone by and everything has changed in the NBA. Many people believed that Howard’s roller coaster journey had ended three times, when ESPN reported he was traded to the Nets, when he opted in to stay with the Magic, and finally on August 10, 2012, when he was part of a four team deal that sent him to Los Angeles. However, we were all wrong; the roller coaster ride was just taking another curve. After a disastrous season, the Lakers fired their coach after 5 games, Howard was forced to play with back pain, Lakers faced crippling injuries, Kobe never accepted Howard’s playful demeanor, Kobe hurting his Achilles, and finally Howard’s ejection in Game Four of the first round of the NBA playoffs, many experts believed that Howard would not be returning to the Lakers. Although Kobe had the last word and the Lakers could offer $30 million more dollars than the Rockets, the tumultuous situation caused Howard to reevaluate his options and leave Tinseltown. Although Howard does deserve blame because of how he handled the situation, NBA fans should respect him for giving up $30 million dollars and a chance to live in LA because he felt more comfortable in Houston.

Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard

Although the Rockets will have a lot of expectations and talent, they will not be my favorite to win the Western Conference. When Howard is healthy, he is one of the most dominating players this game has to offer. However, his status is uncertain because back injuries do not just heal themselves, especially for big men. Howard was not the same player we saw in Orlando because of the back injury. Although Howard had a great season compared to other centers around the league, 17 ppg, 12 rpg, 2 blk, Howard did not have the same quickness or athleticism because of the back injury. Even if Howard returns to full strength, I do not believe that the Rockets will be the top team in the league or the West. Personally, I do not think Houston’s personal will be good enough to lead Howard to his first championship. Besides for James Harden, one of the league’s brightest stars, the Rockets are devoid of star power. Although many people feel that Chandler Parsons will be a star in the league, I do not share the same opinion. The Rockets will be forced to change their style of play, which will affect their supporting cast. The Rocket players were able to put up gaudy numbers because of their “run and gun” offense, which led to a lot of open transition threes and layups. However, the Rockets will no longer be able to play at such a speed because it does not fit Howard’s game. As seen with the Lakers, Dwight is completely ineffective in that style of play. Players, such as Parsons and Lin, will be a lot less effective in their new style of play. Although Parsons will be successful as a three point shooter, Parsons will be unable to put up the same points or assists numbers, which will denigrate his value as a player. Lin will not be the same player, when the Rockets change their style of play. As seen in New York, when the Knicks were forced to play slow, Lin was not as effective as a player because of his disability to go left and separate from defenders. Lin is not a good shooter, which is what the Rockets will need to spread the floor for Howard and Harden.

James Harden
James Harden

I still believe that the Rockets will be fighting for a top 4 position in the West. I would not be surprised if the Rockets finished 4th, however I would be surprised if they finished first ahead of OKC, Grizzlies, and Spurs. OKC beat the Rockets in 6 games, even though they did not have Russell Westbrook. I would choose Russell Westbrook, Durant, and Ibaka over Howard, Harden, and Parsons. Houston will face tough battle with the Grizzlies, Clippers, and Spurs in the playoffs. The Rocket players have never won, which could be a major problem during playoff time. The Grizzlies and Spurs would have big men that could defend and neutralize Harden and Howard, Grizzlies: Allen and Gasol and Spurs: Leonard and Duncan. I would take the talent and experience of the Grizzlies and Spurs over the Rockets currently, but things can change.

Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant

However, the Rockets will have a chance of bringing the title back to Houston if they can sign Josh Smith. After reports surfaced that Howard would be signing with the Rockets, Omar Asik stated that he would not play with Howard because they share similar positions. Atlanta does not want Smith back on their team, especially for the salary he is commanding. Atlanta and Rockets have expressed interest in a possible sign and trade. The addition of Smith would give the Rockets with one of the most athletic and dynamic rotation in the league. Although many of their players have never won and their bench would be non existent, there starting five should enable them to reach the NBA Finals. In order to overtake the throne, the Rockets must add veteran free agents, who can come off the bench and provide quality minutes. Especially if the Thunder or Spurs do not add another borderline All-Star, expect the Houston Rockets to come out of the West and face the Heat in an epic final.

Josh Smith
Josh Smith

Future Lineup:

Lin

Harden

Parsons

Smith

Howard

Stats and pics from ESPN.com

Dwight Howard on the Move

By: Prad and Jon

It looks like Dwight Howard’s stay in Hollywood is nearing its end as sources report that he is attempting to sign a max deal with another team. Howard had a difficult time this season with the Lakers. Part of the problem was being able to coexist with a star- studded roster. He also blames his ability to work within Mike D’Antoni’s system. Whatever the reason may be that Howard wasn’t a good fit in LA, he averaged some pretty bad numbers by his standards. He had his lowest scoring output since his sophomore season (17.1 PPG) and averaged the worst boards per game since his third season in the league (12.4 RPG). Howard will be at the forefront of the free agency period, which begins on July 1. It was previously reported that Chris Paul and him would want to team up and play together next season, but it is confirmed that Paul will remain in Los Angeles and re-sign with the Clippers. Howard’s potential spots for next season include Dallas, Atlanta, and Houston. The latter of which is the biggest possibility.

Chris Paul
Chris Paul

Houston’s Case

James Harden
James Harden

The Rockets will be the first to meet with the center on Sunday night. They will most probably be offering a four year max deal worth $88 million. Although this offer could be surpassed by the Lakers, Texas doesn’t incur an income tax. Also, the Rockets are one of the most international teams in terms of broadcasting because of former talent, Yao Ming and current point guard, Jermey Lin. His brand will become very marketable in Asia. Houston already has a strong team with a star in James Harden, who averaged 25.9 points a game this past season which accounted for 5th in the league. He led the Rockets to the playoffs and a tough fought series with the previous Western Conference Champs, OKC Thunder. The Rockets only have young big men (Thomas Robinson, Donatas Motiejuanas, Tim Ohlbrecht, and Greg Smith) with the exception of Omer Asik who’s going to turn 27 next week. Dwight Howard could serve as a possible mentor to all of this young talent. If he decides to team up with Harden, this core could stay together for at least another five years since Howard is relatively young, 27 and Harden is only 23. The only problem seems to be that Dwight Howard doesn’t necessarily exist well with other talented players, which was exemplified this year with Kobe and Pau Gasol. But, all the pros in this scenario are irresistible for D12 to pass up.

Atlanta’s Case

Josh Smith
Josh Smith

Atlanta is in a good position because they have a lot of cap space and a solid power forward/center in Al Horford. Horford is a star and borderline superstar, averaging 17.4 points and 10.1 rebounds. Atlanta, unlike other teams, has the ability to sign two stars. However, with the latest news about Paul, it is very unlikely that Howard will sign with his hometown team. If Atlanta could have teamed Howard with Paul and Horford, they would probably be the favorites in the NBA. However, Atlanta can still field a capable team that can compete with Miami and the other east powers. If Atlanta re-signed Josh Smith and signed another star like Andre Iguodala or Brandon Jennings, Atlanta would have a dangerous starting five and at least have a chance at winning the Eastern Conference. Although Dwight Howard grew up in Atlanta, he has never expressed interest in returning. The Hawks have the worst odds of obtaining Howard, which should not come as a surprise.

Dallas’ case

Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk Nowitzki

Although the Mavericks have little chance of winning the championship next season if they sign Howard, they will have a chance the following season because of the financial sacrifice that Dirk Nowitzki is willing to undertake. Currently, Dirk Nowitzki is in the last year of his contract, making over $20 million. Dirk and Dwight would be making over half of the Mavericks’ salary cap. However, Dirk has stated that he would be willing to take a major pay cut to sign another superstar in the 2014 offseason. In 2014, there could be a lot of good free agents that can propel Dallas to the championship. If Nowitzki takes a pay cut, Dallas will be able to sign a big name free agent as well as a number of quality pieces for their bench. Unlike the Rockets, the Mavericks have a championship winning coach, player, and owner. With the help of Mark Cuban, Dwight can become a bigger name and sign more lucrative endorsement deals. Since people close to Dwight are saying that he does not like the Lakers’ situation, Dallas will be a very attactive option becomes Nowitzki and their ability to sign another high priced free agent as well as a deep bench.

Laker’s Case

Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant

His current team can offer Howard a max deal approximately five years $118 million. Yet the money might not be everything for Howard, because his main concern may be where he’s the main figure on his team or where he has the best chance to win an NBA title.  The aforementioned reasons about Mike D’Antoni and the roster filled with stars made it difficult for Howard to work and it will stay that way as long as D’Antoni stays in Los Angeles. But, Howard doesn’t want to go to LA after D’Antoni is fired because that will arouse suspicion about the correlation between D’Antoni’s firing and Howard’s signing. He already caused a stir when Howard forced the Orlando Magic organization to fire their head coach, Stan Van Gundy. Wherever Howard lands, one aspect is clear: he wants to be competitive and be in an environment where he can win a championship. Ultimately, I predict that Howard will end up playing in Houston alongside James Harden.

All Pictures and Stats from ESPN.com