The only thing promised with the end of another wave of Dwight Howard near-trades and “imminent talks” is that, since the center remains on Orlando’s roster, there will be more to come. The Magic organization appear to have gotten tired of looking at essentially the same package of Brook Lopez (now locked up with a new contract) and a bunch of draft picks and supplementary players offered by the Brooklyn Nets for their franchise cornerstone. One can’t blame the Nets for offering the best of what they have, but the fact remains that even as the pieces added up on one side of the seesaw, the weight never balanced out with Howard’s worth. And kudos to Orlando, after trying to tilt their collective head sideways, squint, have a few glasses of wine and then look, after trying to see the deal as an attractive return for the league’s most dominant center, for continually hoping that more is out there and never completely giving in simply because Brooklyn is Howard’s list and one wish upon a star.
Brooklyn eventually saw the writing on the wall as of yesterday. With the re-signing of Lopez their core will be Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace and the young center from Stanford. That’s not too shabby, even if being as close as they were to landing Howard may make the situation feel a bit anticlimactic. In the end, it was their only move if the Magic wouldn’t bite at their bait, and it’s not like they’re falling back on Johan Petro.
In Orlando, their dogged pursuit of the best deal available for the franchise going forward is commendable and kind of a breath of fresh air. The only problem is that it still goes on. If teams like the Rockets or Hawks, who appear from the outside to be attempting to assemble a package for Howard, offer the most in return and are willing to risk him refusing to re-sign long-term, then that’s their gamble. The Lakers, too, are seemingly always in the mix, ready to make a shocking pounce trade when we least expect it.
The Magic are in the awkward position of wanting to be as diligent as they can be in the process of getting something back for Howard, while probably wanting the whole ordeal done and over with as soon as possible at the same time. Howard — and it doesn’t help that we haven’t seen him play basketball in quite some time to leverage this feeling — has turned into a bratty cartoon of himself. A player whose skills and impact are obvious (that’s why we’re here talking in the first place), but whose personality and handling of this entire “Trade me now, but only to these teams wait no just this one team but definitely trade me as soon as you can” clownshow only gets more tiresome by the day.
So while I’m happy for the Magic for standing their ground and never accepting a Nets deal that just didn’t feel right, I’m also sad for myself and everyone else that we have more Keeping Up With Dwight Howard to endure. At least, we can only cross our fingers, that now the Brooklyn Nets can officially — okay, almost officially because those Nets-Dwight rumors will probably never stop simmering up to the surface until a deal is done — be crossed off the list. It’s a small, hopeful start towards an end that can’t come soon enough.
Griffin Gotta contributes to The Hoop Doctors and is a co-managing editor of Straight Outta Vancouver on SB Nation. The story arcs and infinite weirdness of the NBA are addictions he deals with every day. Email him at griffingotta at gmail dot com.