What Should The Magic Be Doing With Dwight?
Sources say that, in return for Dwight, the Magic will receive Brook Lopez, Damion James, Sheldon Williams, and three future first-round picks from the Nets, and likely another first round pick from the mystery fourth team.
With Dwight's vocalization of only wanting to sign an extension with the Nets, and his impending free agency closing in, is this the right move for the Magic to make? I don't think it is.
Brook Lopez isn't that good. He can score, I'll give him that, but he was taking 16 shots per game as the lone scoring option on his lousy Nets team back in 2010-11. He turned that into a nice 20.4 points per game, but I doubt that he'd be shooting that much on most NBA teams.
Also, his rebounding averages per 36 minutes have declined every year since he's been in the league. In the five games he played last season, he averaged 3.6 boards. I can give him the benefit of the doubt, as he was coming back from injury. However, in 82 games the year before he averaged 6.0 rebounds per game. He's seven feet tall. That's just embarrassing. A seven-footer should be able to get more rebounds standing in the paint with his hands up and his eyes closed. How Lopez managed to avoid the ball that much is stunning.
As for the picks the Magic will receive, they won't be getting anything special. If the Nets land Dwight, they are going to have a very good team. Their picks will like be in the mid-20's of the first round, where teams target guys who will some day be able contribute off the bench.
The Nets' fourth best player will be Gerald Wallace, who averaged 18.2 points and 10 rebounds just three years ago. Their team will be GOOD, hence, their picks will be bad.
There's a chance that the mystery team could be offering a good pick to the Magic, but with no decent pieces expected to go to that fourth team I don't see why a high pick would be offered up.
I can't say I have any inside sources with the Magic, but from what I've heard there are teams willing to "rent" Dwight Howard, meaning they would be willing to trade for him without the promise of him signing an extension. These rumored teams include the Houston Rockets and the Golden State Warriors. It's hard for me to imagine those teams not being able to offer something better than the Nets.
The Rockets, for example, are rumored to have been looking to move shooting guard Kevin Martin, a career 18.4 points per game scorer (20+ per game from 2006 to 2010). If the Magic could squeeze out Martin, maybe one of the Rockets' three new rookies taken in the first round, plus a couple of first round picks (that would likely be better than the Nets' picks), the Magic would have a better deal on their hands.
The Warriors could likely offer David Lee in a trade. Lee has the scoring ability of Brook Lopez but also is a superior rebounder, averaging 9.6 last year and as many as 11.7 (twice) in his career. The Warriors may even be willing to package Lee with center Andrew Bogut, immediately giving the Magic a solid front court. Pair that with a pick and I'd take it over the Nets' proposed deal.
Another team the Magic should contact is the Atlanta Hawks. Josh Smith, one of the league's top stat sheet stuffers, has reportedly requested to be traded by the Hawks. The Hawks could be willing to make him the centerpiece of a deal for Dwight, then try to convince Dwight to stay in his hometown of Atlanta.
There's legitimate reason for teams "renting" Dwight to believe he may re-sign with them. If he is not traded to the Nets before the trade deadline, the Nets would have to make major moves to free up the money to sign Dwight as a free agent next summer. They have the $100 million contract of Deron Williams, one of the league's most massive contracts for Joe Johnson, they just signed Gerald Wallace to a $40 million deal, and they're reportedly working on a deal for Brook Lopez in the Roy Hibbert range ($59 million).
If Dwight can't go to his beloved Brooklyn team, there's no telling where he'd want to sign. Would he be open to staying in his hometown of Atlanta? Would he like the direction that the young Rockets team is headed? Would he enjoy playing in the defensive-minded system of Mark Jackson in Golden State?
Despite all that, Dwight is going to Brooklyn. He may even be there by now, as I've been sitting here writing for a while.
I would assume that the Magic have contacted every and any team that may be interested in Dwight, but I don't know that for sure. It's hard for me to believe that there are no teams willing to roll the dice on Dwight and give up something better than Brook "I Don't Rebound" Lopez and a bunch of crappy first-round picks. Maybe the Magic are just really high on Lopez, who knows, but if I'm the Magic, I'm snooping around for a better deal.