Dwight Howard Knicks
February 28, 2012 by staff
Dwight Howard Knicks, As only the great ones can do, Kobe Bryant seized the occasion to be an NBA trendsetter Sunday night by having his nose broken and bell rung in an utterly meaningless game — which is precisely the kind of whacky entertainment we’ve come to expect from this Trust Us We’re Just Fine Season.
And as for preparing a breathless world for what happens next — matters that have but a casual relationship with winning — Dwight Howard spent his weekend dodging the media, which made the common error of mistaking his silence for emotional depth.
So now — thankfully or otherwise — we move on.
Here are eight things to look for in the season’s second half:
BEST PLAY — WAIT FOR JULY
By now, the Nets probably believe they have the most to gain from the status quo, so they’ll probably play defense until the deadline passes — sabotage a deal here, plant a negative report about somebody there. It’s all part of the pursuit — keep the game’s best free agent in play for as long as possible, and let your pitch stand on its merits.
Their pitch: How in his right mind can Howard choose Dallas over Brooklyn? For starters, the Mavs’ best-case scenario includes a $25 million bankroll, which means they can give Howard and Deron Williams a starting salary of only $12.5M each. The Nets will start in the $18M-19M range.
Second pitch: If it gets to free agency, the Mavs will amnesty Brendan Haywood and find a taker for Shawn Marion, which leaves them with two stars, a 34-year-old Dirk Nowitzki and nine minimum-wage guys. The Nets will have Howard, D-Will, Brook Lopez, Anthony Morrow, Marshon Brooks, and a pair of No. 1s. Which shelf life would they find more appealing?
THEN AGAIN, EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
The problem with the July scenario, of course, is that Howard stands to lose a few bucks if he doesn’t force a deal now or stay in Orlando ($109M as opposed to $81M in Brooklyn). Does it matter? Maybe he compensates by leaving Mouseville for a larger market, because in this day and age — when the prime directive is unabashed self-promotion and greed — some guys would traffic in mascot blood and cheerleader teeth if the price was right.
In case you missed last week’s news: Derrick Rose got $200 million from his shoe company, or twice as much as he’ll get from the Bulls. Great kid, but when push comes to shove, you can probably guess which employer owns his undying loyalty.
Meanwhile, the league said it is comfortable that the shoe companies won’t try to steer stars to larger markets. (Pause here for raucous laughter.) Five minutes later, they announced that Nike co-founder Phil Knight is going to the Basketball Hall of Fame, ostensibly for pioneering the method of turning $10 shoes produced in Indonesian sweatshops and selling them for $140.
RELAX THE REIGNS
Last week, you saw Gregg Popovich do what he does every year — bench his starters and send out his B team to get plastered at Portland — though he did it after the San Antonio Spurs had won 11 in a row. Soon, other coaches will follow suit. They’ll realize that they’re actually playing 55-game schedules — those other 11 are just practice time — and that once you’ve got a home-court advantage or even just a seed clinched, it can only be about one thing come April 28: health.
The Spurs are 24-10, by the way. Manu Ginobili has missed 25 of those games, and is out for a few more weeks. Pop has five kids in his rotation, and the same ol’ mantra: “If you don’t (rest guys) now, I think you’re asking for trouble later.” We have a nagging suspicion that this group isn’t quite as dead as Memphis made them look last spring.
LOOK OUT BELOW
The flip side to Popovich’s method: The Boston Celtics (15-17) have to play 32 games in 59 days. That includes an eight-game road trip that starts March 11. In other words, if they’re playing for anything other than eighth place at this point, we’re missing something.
The one move we’d like to see, if only to bring one more interesting team to the party? Steve Nash to Orlando. Problem: There are ways to make it add up to $11.6M, but good luck convincing Phoenix that Ryan Anderson can’t be part of the exchange. If Boston decides to bust it up, we want to see Ray Allen on the Clippers — just to keep OKC, the runaway best out West — honest.
Jeremy Lin’s deer-in-the-headlights freeze in Miami — where the Heat’s speed edge made him think and rethink everything — is a great one to learn from. The next 12 days bring Kyrie Irving, Rajon Rondo, Tony Parker, Brandon Jennings, Jrue Holiday, and Derrick Rose. If he gets through this group with more advances than stumbles, the Knicks can objectively think about catching Philly.
TANKS A LOT
Repudiating an honored tradition of ignoring all things under the NCAA banner before it’s absolutely necessary, we watched Kentucky’s Anthony Davis four or five times this month. Half the time we see a more refined Marcus Camby. But Charlotte and Washington will still routinely trip over the midcourt line over the next two months trying to get at him first.
MIAMI, NO VICE
They’ve gone 19-3 in the last five weeks, hardly anyone is paying attention anymore, and they could be getting better by the week — certainly that is the case defensively. We anticipate a 14-2 April, a top seed, and a trip to the Finals behind a runaway MVP, LeBron James.
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