Everyone has an opinion on how the Dwight Howard saga ended. Until the season starts, I guess we can still pick up the pieces. At some point it will be time to move forward.
Charles Oakley has not reached that point.
As I wrote over at Crossover Chronicles, Charles Oakley took the Magic to task for how they handled Dwight Howard throughout his career:
“A lot of guys cry in this league these days. I try not to get caught up in that,” Oakley said. “The management in Orlando let him get away with it. Most times, they put kids in timeout. They never put him in timeout. He just kept crying and got his way. Now he’s in LA with Kobe so they got a chance to win a couple championships in the next two or three years.
“They could have traded him and got something better for him last year. I think they just tried to play along. They just pleased him anyway they could but he never did anything to please them.”
There is still some great stuff being written on Dwight Howard. Be sure to check out Dwight Howard week over at MagicBasketball.net for some great retrospective on Howard as well, for those ready to feel sentimental.
What will the Magic’s new offense look like? That is a really good question. One that may not be able to be answered fully right now.
Sebastian Pruiti of Grantland looks at what the Spurs did and projects what Jacque Vaughn may try and bring to his new team:
Vaughn is a Popovich guy (he was an assistant under Popovich the past two seasons), and he’s going to try to emulate the Spurs coach a little. That means that the Magic will be doing things a little bit differently next season.
There will likely be the 3-point shooting. Under former coach Stan Van Gundy, the Magic liked to run a four-out, one-in system that gave Dwight Howard space to work inside while the rest of his teammates spotted up along the 3-point line. Essentially, Howard freed up Orlando’s 3-point shooters and vice versa. With Howard and Van Gundy gone, you can expect the Magic to no longer lead the league in 3-point rate (which they did last season, shooting 3s on 34.6 percent of their total shots). But they will still shoot 3s (the Spurs were seventh in 3-point rate, shooting 3s on 25.7 percent of their total shots), and still shoot them at a relatively high rate.
Stan Van Gundy is not going to stay quiet. It just is not him. So, as we try to unpack what happened in the Dwight Howard aftermath, it is good to hear the opinions of the Magic’s former coach. Mostly because we want to know.
Van Gundy talked with Bianchi about a number of topics, including his future and how things went wrong with Dwight Howard:
The Magic’s deal to trade Dwight Howard was complicated and a little messy. Through it all was Magic general manager Rob Hennigan.
To those outside the Orlando he is the young puppy, too naive to know what he is doing. To those inside the Magic’s front office… he is something else. To pull the wool over people’s eyes like the Spurs do, you might have to confuse some of your own fans.
Know that, for whatever it is worth, the Magic front office has complete faith in him to bring the sustainable success the franchise has been lacking for a really really really long time. That is what Sam Amico of Sports Illustrated wrote in his profile of the Magic’s new general manager.
What little Hennigan saw of the circus was torture for a man who takes his humility seriously. Ask him about his past experiences or to explain how he won the job over candidates with longer résumés, and he’ll tell you over and over again that he was “lucky.” Ask him to talk about himself, and he’ll cringe.
This is the guy who was known for not celebrating game-winning shots during his playing days, who once had an impressed friend send him a cell-phone picture of the banner inside the Emerson gym honoring his scoring achievements and responded with “Yeah, I was a little bit of a ball hog.” So, yeah, he’d be just fine if the spotlight dimmed a bit and no one asked him to talk about himself.
Martins, however, can’t say enough.
“Quite frankly, I think he’s going to be a star,” Martins told SI.com just days before the Howard deal. “As time goes on, I think he’s got all the makings of being a great GM.”
Martins felt good about the decision immediately. The Magic not only vetted Hennigan in all the traditional ways but also did extensive personality tests that Martins estimates were “probably as much or more than anybody has ever done” in the NBA. What they discovered was a man with experience well beyond his years, and with an even-keeled temperament that was precisely what they were looking for.
“He’s unflappable, OK?” Martins said. “I was most impressed with him six or seven days into the job on draft night. Clearly you can understand what would happen in the dynamics of the league with a brand-new guy who just came on board who everyone says is young and some have identified as not as experienced as you would expect, so everyone’s calling up and trying to take advantage of the guy.
“I was sitting right next to him, and I was so incredibly impressed by how unflappable he was. He wasn’t going to get pushed around. To me, in that first week, that solidified and gave me the confidence that we made the right decision.”
The fruits of his labor early on clearly was handling the Dwight Howard scenario. And for that, I direct you to Eric Pincus’ deconstruction of the deal — a deconstruction that deserves its own post and will be getting one shortly.
And more from the vault, the folks over at SB Nation did a review of NBA cult classics. The pick for the Magic? Very painfully obviously it is Bo Outlaw. Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post had a very nice write up for the series on Bo that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It will bring a Bo-like grin to your face.
I think Michael Rosenberg’s lead for his article for Sports Illustrated on Dwight Howard says it all:
When a child cries in the NBA, he gets to spank his parents. This is one lesson of the Dwight Howard saga, which is finally over, or at least on hiatus, until Howard says he won’t re-sign unless his team plays three home games a year on Mars, forcing the franchise to buy Mars rover Curiosity to make it happen.
But there are some important points here on how to build a team, such as the fact that only two No. 1 overall picks have won a title for the team that drafted them since the Draft Lottery began in 1985. That would be David Robinson and Tim Duncan.
It seems the Magic’s “fast track” to a championship gave the organization too thin a margin for error and opened the door for Dwight’s exit — even if he completely botched it.
This is the thing that people miss about the NBA. Yes, it is a stars league, but stars alone do not win championships. A star just gives a franchise a head start.
Under former GM Otis Smith, Orlando made the same fundamental mistake that Cleveland did: trying to fast-track to a championship by overpaying for recognizable players, just to placate the star. Rashard Lewis, Antawn Jamison, Mo Williams, Hedo Turkoglu — they all fall into this category, and the fact that two ended up in Orlando and two in Cleveland is almost beside the point. You could swap them out and history would remain the same.
Fan reaction has been pretty similar across the spectrum as the Dwight-mare ends.
Fans are hurting. It sucked being the butt of jokes and it sucks losing a superstar player with an uncertain future ahead. That feeling is captured pretty well by Zach McCann of ESPN Playbook:
When a team trades away the generation’s best big man for a package centering on Arron Afflalo, it’s hard to blame them for being upset.
In an unofficial Twitter poll asking Magic fans what they thought of the trade, 86 of the 129 respondents (66.7 percent) didn’t like the trade, 34 people (26.4 percent) approved and nine patient fans (7 percent) chose to hold off judgment.
Some other pertinent takeaways from the survey: Five people cursed at the trade, three made off-color jokes about suicide, three likened the trade to poop, and two called for the job of Rob Hennigan, who was hired as the Magic’s general manager less than two months ago.
I am on record believing Dwight Howard should give some public thanks and mea culpa to the fans of Orlando. But I understand why plenty of fans feel like that would be a slap in the face. After reading Matt Moore of Pro Basketball Talk give his view, I think Dwight might be better saving the I’m sorrys until emotions die down:
He wrecked a franchise. He wrecked a fanbase. He bailed on the city, and in doing so, ruined their ability to get anything close to a comprehensive package back. He hurt them for a year, forced out a great coach, embarrassed the franchise and the city, and destroyed any leverage they could have had.
And now he’s a Laker. He got what he wanted.
There’s something inherently wrong in how this played out. Carmelo Anthony jacked with the season, held the franchise in limbo, but went about his business. He didn’t reassert his desire over and over again. His agent leaked enough to make his intention clear, but there wasn’t information deliberately leaked from Anthony’s camp to harm their leverage. In fact, Anthony handled it much better than Howard did.
Think about that.
In case you missed it, an equal rights organization is calling for a boycott of DeVos-owned properties including the Orlando Magic for a donation Amway president Doug DeVos made to the National Organization for Marriage in 2009.
Monday morning I joined Marc Daniels and Jerry Greene of The Beat of Sports to discuss the story and how the boycott may effect the Magic. I jump on about 47 minutes into the broadcast:
Believe it or not, we are nearing the end of the Dwight Howard saga. So why not add another post from a controversial (to Magic fans, at least) reporter.
Chris Broussard of ESPN wrote a piece (Insider only) on how Howard can repair his image. The conclusion is Howard needs to be professional, finish his rehab in Orlando and start the year in Orlando if he is not traded at that point.
The surprising thing is Broussard wrote confirmation that Howard did mean what he said in that March press conference and it was events afterward that ultimately soured Howard on Orlando and pushed his decision to leave:
People have wondered why in the world Howard waived his opt-out clause in March only to ask to be traded again less than two months later. Well, he did it because when he “opted in,” he sincerely wanted to give Orlando a chance to keep him. He thought the Magic had a shot at going deep in the playoffs, and he figured he’d give them the summertime and the early part of next season to make moves that could make the team even better.
If he liked what he saw, he’d stay. If he didn’t, he’d be able to honestly say he gave the franchise a chance but moved on to a better situation. All his talk of loyalty at that news conference following his decision to opt in wasn’t just for show.
But when Van Gundy outed Howard by telling the media a Magic executive had told him his All-Star center wanted him fired, Howard lost all trust and confidence in the organization. Other issues have developed since then, but that is what truly soured Howard on returning to the Magic.
Aside from the sad news that Magic Overtime with Dante & Galante has been canceled after four seasons, most Magic fans are waiting with baited breath over what will happen with Dwight Howard.
Nobody is quite sure how to predict what will occur in the future. What we can do is look back at what happened.
Jarrod Rudolph of RealGM joined Brian Geltzeiler and Jacob Noble of The Pro Basketball Talk to talk about Dwight Howard. It is an hour-long interview so be sure to give all of it a listen:
The juiciest tidbits from Rudolph: the Magic had a long discussion with Howard shortly after the season ended in 2011 and a number of topics were discussed — including Stan Van Gundy’s future and potential roster moves. It seemed, according to Rudolph, that Howard wanted to stay in Orlando but wanted to see the team improve the roster. He wanted to see Stephen Jackson, among other, added to the team and was told before the Draft that Charlotte was not planning to move Jackson. Of course, hours later, the Bucks acquired Jackson.
This left a very bitter taste in Howard’s mouth and, combined with some other feelings of being ignored when it came to personnel moves (again, that story might depend on whom you ask, as Rudolph says in the podcast), had Howard not feeling great about the Magic entering the lockout. Blame who you want there. Like I always say, there are huge chunks of this story we simply do not know yet that led to Howard’s ultimate decision leaving Orlando. Like I have always contended, the problem is more with the franchise and not with the city or fans. That should not be confused.