You can't exactly call it expanding his horizons, but news Monday that Dwight Howard had added the Los Angeles Clippers to the list of teams he'd be willing to be traded to provided about one minute of banter before everybody realized it's not likely to happen.
While Chris Sheridan of Sheridan Hoops reported the possibility of a trade to Lob City coming in an off-season sign-and-trade (not ideal for the Magic) once Howard's contract expires in the summer, you have to wonder just who the Clippers have left now as trade bait after dealing the farm for Chris Paul in December. DeAndre Jordan? While a third team can be roped into a trade (and assuming Paul exercises his player option to stay with the Clip next season), it's not going to occur.
In reality, Howard and his agent are merely reacting to the fact that the sexiest trade rumour of the past two months -- D12 going to the Lakers for Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol -- has been rendered moot by the play of Bynum. The 24-year-old is basically doing everything everybody knows he can do when he's not injured, averaging 16.5 points per and almost 14 rebounds a game -- about one less than Howard, and great scoring stats considering he's playing with Kobe Bryant right now (Black Mamba's season-low 14 points in the Lakers' win over Dallas on Martin Luther King Jr. Day notwithstanding).
While unlike some, I'm not ready to say Bynum is a better player than Howard, they are close enough that a trade isn't going to happen just for the sake of making a trade. And the Lakers certainly are not going to give up Pau Gasol on top of Bynum now, even if the Spaniard is still adjusting from the triangle to Mike Brown's offence.
The Nets and the Mavericks are the other teams left in the "Howard-approved" sweepstakes, although some reports indicate he's given up on the soon-to-be Brooklyn squad with only the injured Brook Lopez as real trade bait. The other sexy rumour has Mark Cuban cooking up a way for the Mavs to land both Howard and Deron Williams in the off-season, a potential scheme Bleacher Report's David Daniels adroitly referred to as Cuban's "deranged puzzle." Of course, it's important to remember this rumour only started because Tracy McGrady threw it out there to Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski in December.
The fact is, unless Dallas can swing a trade for Howard between now and the March 15 trade deadline, landing him as a free agent without giving up players in a trade has to be considered unlikely. Magic owner Rich DeVos can't let Howard just walk for nothing. And wherever he goes will have an inside track of signing him long-term, or that team wouldn't risk making the trade. Having said that, both Jason Kidd and Jason Terry's contracts come off the books this summer. The Mavs do have more options than anyone, both in tradable assets and free agency.
Bryant told reporters Monday night that he's looking forward to playing on the U.S. Olympic team in London this summer, which virtually assures his inclusion according to head coach Mike Krzyzewski. This is noteworthy because with the 20 roster finalists being announced Monday, some deserving players are going to get passed over (USA Basketball must submit their final 12-man roster by July 12).
For instance, no more than three of four all-world point guards (Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook) will likely be selected. Not that Bryant's presence has anything to do with the point, but Coach K and Bryan's dad Jerry Colangelo are going to have some tough decisions to make. With outside shooting and guard play a key component to the international game, loading up on big guys and bangers isn't really necessary -- although it would be criminal to not include Kevin Love and Blake Griffin.
Here's my early prediction on the team:
I realize I am passing over Chris Bosh and LaMarcus Aldridge, but again, guard play is key. In 2008, Krzyzewski put Michael Redd on the team while going with one less big man.
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