Frantic Free-Agent Pursuit Of Howard Proves Talent Rules Over All


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Let the current Dwight Howard derby playing out in Los Angeles serve as Exhibit A for the defense. It’s talent over everything else where NBA free agency is concerned.

The same things that Howard has been bashed for the past year and half — his inability to make up his mind, a less than Dwight-like performance after back surgery, an emotional vulnerability while serving as a musclebound pinata for the pundits, etc. — are the same things that inspired the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks and Los Angeles Lakers to ignore the rest of the free-agent field or what it will cost them in luxury-tax penalties (in the Lakers’ case) for an all-out pursuit of Howard’s services this summer.

Howard, 27, is far from washed up and is in the midst of his physical prime. And despite opinions to the contrary (sorry, Shaquille O’Neal, but you and plenty of others are wrong on this one), Howard is still the best big man in basketball. And Howard with a chip on his shoulder, with his talent, is a player all of these teams would love to build around.

The man Shaq suggested was ready to dethrone Howard as the top big man in basketball, Andrew Bynum, didn’t play a single second in Philadelphia this season and is low on the priority list for most teams.

Al Jefferson, the only other potential All-Star-caliber center in this free-agent class, is being pursued by the Charlotte Bobcats. But not with the fervor of these teams that are chasing Howard.

Can you envision Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, Yao Ming (via Skype), Jerry West or any of the other stars who have volunteered to help their respective teams chase Howard in free agency doing the same for Bynum or Jefferson?

That’s not to say Howard hasn’t had his issues. And he’ll have to work to rebuild his brand with fans wherever he goes. But his stock is sky-high with the folks whose professional livelihood depends on them getting this right.

Howard changes the dynamic in places like Houston, Dallas, Golden State and Atlanta. Those teams instantly move into a championship-level tax bracket with Howard as the centerpiece of their franchises. (The Lakers tried it already and barely made the playoffs.)

“Don’t let all of that chatter from the season fool you,” an Eastern Conference executive said. “Dwight was going to be the game-changer in this free-agent class no matter what. He could have sat and rested that back through All-Star weekend and he’d still command this kind of attention in free agency. There is no one else in his class as a big man when he’s right.”


  1. Mikey says:

    Lamarcus Aldridge is the best big man in the NBA…just saying.

  2. Kobe@Manila says:

    I have been an LA fan here in Manila, Philippines for about 16 years now.. If Dwight wants to go then let him be.. There’s nothing wrong if he sticks around LA.. LA is a championship caliber team.. LA is where he gets 30M more.. LA is running for the best.. 2 more rings then they’ll beat BC.. In any case, I agree that they get Josh when D12 leaves.. Get a good PG as well.. Nash needs a good backup PG.. Go LA!! Get the that 17th ring..

  3. Fred says:

    Gasol is best Center in NBA.

  4. Patrol08 says:

    I am a Lakers fans since the 80’s. As much as I like Howard, if he’s heart-hearted I’d rather let him go. The lakers this past season has been plagued by injuries, coaching changes yet they rebounded back with a good record after All-Star weekend. They already know each other’s system and I suggest he sticks to it. I think Kobe can still play 2 more years. Just in case Howard leaves, I suggest Lakers get Josh Smith, retain Paul Gasol. Or they can get Bynum back.

  5. Tuesday says:

    @IM Back Bro – you poor little guy. Howard has no talent at all. He is just big and can dunk. All big man can dunk. Even short ones like Robinson. Its just it. All howard do is dunk. No other ways to score. As a matter of fact Pau is way better than D12. Howard is not worth the $$$. howard should suit up for the D league together with ricky rubio LoL

  6. gnik911 says:

    if i were howard id stay with the lakers…why?no more adjusting to another foreign system….i cant see rockets running an inside out game because harden will always be option 1…and if he is looking for a championship team where his talent will be used, lakers fit that description…kobe’s returning no doubt about that….but he will be retiring soon. all the lakers need now is a true shooting small forward and they will be off to the finals…

  7. JT says:

    Actually the is Dwight is the best centre in the NBA at the moment. THE sad thing is he’s the best centre while not even getting anywhere near his potential and doesn’t look like he has the drive to reach that potential either.

  8. Kimmy says:

    Wow. Somebody told me today Dwight is going to chose the Houston Rockets because they will lay it all out for him, and he will be the star of the team,that is what he want mosts. If that’s the case, he may not be chosing championship.

  9. Derek says:

    Noooo Jefferson, stay on the Jazz!

  10. Sam says:

    In my opinion D12 would fit well in Dalla with Dirk and cuban will make the company appear in seconds they have the EXP and the german can show some tricks yet then the team will be howards 😀 also carlisle can do amazing things with him. best option for that rated n.1 btw the rockets have the support but they lack in the exp they havent been in NBA finals as Mavs were 3 years ago

  11. PistolPete says:

    I find it ironic that the team that coined the phrase, “heart of champion” is falling over itself to sign someone that has no heart, but I guess they bought into the TMac show too.

  12. The Taco Kidd says:

    At IM back bro,

    Dwight went (not took) Orlando to the Championship and lost to the LA Lakers. It was Turkeglu who was the main reason they went to the big series. This was proven by the way he carried the team through any success. Dwight was snuffed and was limited to a power forward position and only really contributed with rebounds. To prove the point more, Turkeglu was trade the next near and Orlando never saw a deep in in the playoffs again. Dwight is good and maybe one of the best nowadays, but he can’t carry a team based on his immature behavior. I am a Laker fan and am accustomed to a certain type of performer with a desire to win and prove them self. Dwight seems to want to be the big man but without proving anything. He has all kinds of potential, but no real proof. He’s just another player who feels self entitled because of talent and no results. Good ridden D12

  13. man houston should just trade lin and get rondo and then sign smith and al jefferson or smith and iguodala

  14. Come On Charlotte says:

    MJ …..Bobcat..I mean Hornets!!! Come On Really? Al Jefferson? All these stars in the Free Agency and you go after Al Jefferson? MJ are you burnt out on winning? That doesn’t sound like a I wanna win Move right there sorry man.

  15. dreadyjun says:

    Howard is rubbish. He failed to win in Orlando. He failed in LA. He will fail where ever he goes. He might as well go to Miami, I’m sure he would love to be with his fellow big game choker lebron.

    • Naksone says:

      So you obviously didn’t watch the last 2 seasons of the NBA. I’ll fill you in. Lebron won 2 league MVPs, 2 Finals MVP’s and 2 Championships and is the current all time leader for avg points in game 7’s. Not bad for a Choker.

      • BDub says:

        Lebron is only the leader in game sevens because Jordan never needed a game seven to win a championship.

      • YYY says:

        Ooo because 1 guy never saw a game 7 his teams weren’t good enough. Get real. If LeBron only won because of Wade, MJ only won because of Pippen. If Lebron is a choker MJ is a gagger.

      • Kei says:

        still with the choker thing? Is Lebron’s still in Cavs? How about a guy who shot 6-24 in game 7 in the finals? Choker?

  16. Arnel says:

    If for some reason Miami acquires Al Jeffferson.., good God! Miami for 3 peat is on the bag.

  17. johnny dawson says:

    Saying that Dwight is better than Wilt is ridiculous. I bet that anyone saying that is to young to remember Wilt. Wilt’s stats speak for themselves. Dwight better than Wilt? That statement is not based on realitiy.

  18. Lakers Pride says:

    i hope Houston did not put anything in Dwight’s Meal.. haha.For sure He will Leave LA… I think im ready to for Dwight/Kobe Chapter 2 in LA along with ehem..Josh Smith in case if Pau leaves…and some bench and maybe a good backup PG..

  19. Drago says:

    It’s a sad day in the NBA when a player with the skill set of Ben Wallace only taller is the best center in the league.Imagine the step back in quality form Jordan to Lebron and Hakeem to Howard sad really.

    • richardlowry says:

      Howard IS the best center in the league. The only reason he didn’t change the Lakers was because of his injuries and Kobe’s high demand for the ball. When a selfish player teams up with another player that needs the ball. 2012-2013 Lakers happen.

    • YYY says:

      Jordan Hakeem

  20. marc says:

    Here’s hoping that non- free-throw shooting disaster, Dwight Howard, vacates the Lakers pronto. We don’t need him at the Lakers. There are much better players out there that can get the job done. Look at Brooks Lopez, Blake Griffin, Roy HIbbert, etc. He should end up anywhere BUT the Lakers. We are a championship team and we don’t need Dwight to destroy that.

    • YYY says:

      LOL if you think the Lakers have a chance to get any of those guys you are an ignorant idiot.

  21. kabel says:

    Lakers better behave … They look stupid with those posters and crying for D12 … C’mon Lakers, let him go, concentrate on something else, Jefferson for example …

    • pakyaw says:

      they dont need jefferson and they dont josh smith either, what the lakers need is a point guard and a bench…gasol is enough to be their bigmen…kobe shouldnt be playing more than 35 mins, thats why they need bench (like spurs?)

  22. AJ says:

    Smith has a penchant for rambling on about the obvious.

  23. DW says:

    Go with D12. reason: he is much better than AI and bynum to protect the rim. Houston do not need an offensive player (offensively D12 is not bad at all although hes not perfect) what houston needs is a big guy who can defend and dunk

  24. Goran says:

    It was not a threat. It is just a lingo. I think that I expressed myself adequately about this matter. Been a Lakers fan since 1989.
    Never switched the team. Loyalty first!

  25. Goran says:

    Howard should stay with the Lakers. Kobe and he will destroy everybody next season!

    • no one says:

      nothing to destroy…kobe is already destroyed….

    • Kei says:

      I think they destroyed themselves this season. Ko”me” destroy anything in the path, whether it’s teamates or coaches.

  26. c'mon now says:

    i say go after al jefferson. hes very consistent and probably wont cause any drama. hes a good fit for any team thats looking for a hard working consisternt center

  27. SmoothMM says:

    Go after Big Al, Houston! He’ll fit the system to a glove with little to no outside drama (I hope). This guy is a team player that can bang down low, hit the mid-range J, rebound, play D and hustle…. also good at the line. He’s a versatile guy that can play the 4 or 5 (imagine him and Asik starting side-by-side: defensive stalwarts). Regardless of whether or not you get Howard, get Big Al before someone else snags him up! Rockets fan out.

  28. Kurrm says:

    Al Jeff automatic 20 points 10 rebounds nice pick up. Toronto needs him

    • SmoothMM says:

      Agreed. He’s a starter on any team in the NBA… A really good starter (All Star talent).

  29. J nicks says:

    D12 is over-rated. Best big man right now….

    …Have to go with big boy Roy Hibbert.

    • steagle says:

      Hear hear! I’d also throw Brook Lopez in the mix in terms of consistency, stats and good attitude.

    • Pakyaw says:

      Hibbert?..just because he dominate the small ball team (Miami) doesn’t mean ur that good.. He got no footwork.. I’ll believe it if he do that to those defensive bigmen(Dwight,ibaka,or maybe Duncan)..

      • bgleavitt says:

        Despite your claims in D12 Favor I’d take Hibbert over D12 at this point. Dwight is maybe slightly better than Hibbert but not having to deal with the Dwama on your team…PRICELESS.

  30. Benjamin Trottier says:

    Sorry, but he is a big baby and big babies don’t win anything.

  31. steppx says:

    actually, the sad thing about all this is that howard is NOT still the best big man in the NBA…sorry sekou. You wrong about this. And its partly yourown fawning love for celebrity players. This will only be proven next year…..when whoever howard signs with…and i bet its houston…..fails to win anything…..and when howard misses half the season with more chronic back problems.

    • IM back bro says:

      they better go after howard now. This is statistically the best center to ever step foot on a nba court. He in my opinion is better than shaq,kareem, and wilt combined. They didnt have dwights strength or speed. WHO DARES DISAGREES WITH ME!!!!

      • Peso says:

        on defense Howard is better of course but offense Shaq is one of the greatest ever while being a above average defender and unmovable object so i disagree completely lol

      • Anonymous says:

        I guess you did not read any of the responses people gave you when you wrote “Dwight is the best center in NBA history” in the other blog.

        You might want to read those…

        But you say “statistically” Dwight is the “best center ever”. Ok. You also say in your opinion Dwight is “better than shaq,kareem, and wilt…combined.” Ok. Let’s see.

        Dwight Howard
        Years played: 9
        PPG: 18.3
        RPG: 12.9

        Shaquille O’Neal
        Years played: 19
        PPG: 23.7
        RPG: 10.9

        Wilt Chamberlain
        Years played: 14
        PPG: 30.1
        RPG: 22.9

        Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
        Years played: 20
        PPG: 24.6
        RPG: 11.2

        As a bonus, “shaq,kareem, and wilt combined” on average

        Years played: 17.7
        PPG: 26.1
        RPG: 15

        Not sure if you know this, but the three “weaker” centers also won these things called championships. The average between the 3 centers are 4 championships (4 Shaq, 2 Wilt, 6 Kareem),

        I know you really like Dwight. But really? You can make a comparison between him and the other centers in NBA history, but be honest, is there an actual comparison to be made?

      • keef says:

        Im back bro your prolly like 20 years old and have no REAL knowledge of the game..the sweet history of it..but I’ll schools you a comparing him to wilt the stilt 100pts enough said and rings, Kareem the sky hook and he can kick a$$ and rings, and finally Shaq daddy true brute force w/foot work…howard is not stronger than shaq..MEMO buddy this is real life shaq dismantled everything that supports the rim and once again rings..common theme RINGS! START watching tennis or nascar cuz its obvious your on space mountain w/that comment…

      • Scott says:

        Howard is a big baby. He could be a great player if he just start listening to the right people. He needs a coach who for one is not gonna put up with his childish ways and have the balls to tell him how it is. Two he really needs Kobe. Only because the legend that he is. He played with Shaq, and he knows how to get it done the right way. But the lakers have no other really good players besides them two. Three, when it comes down to it, houston would be the best team for him to got to because of the young talent already there, and that team is built to stay around for a few years. If the Lakers can unload alot of there contracts and actually get some really good youg talent in there them Howard should stay, plus they NEED to fire D’antoni. And I bet you if the lakers came to Howard and say were bringing back in Jackson as coach “as they should” then Howard will stay. D’antoni is a good coach but not for the Lakers.

      • EVEN D12 DISAGREES W/ YOU!!!!!!!!!!

      • DistounneedsanEnema says:

        Wow… wow. A true troll indeed. Let me just add this to the googol amount of replies that will absolutely murder your insane remarks: D. Howard is not even the best center in his own team. How easily people trash LeBron’s chance of being mentioned in the same sentence of MJ and Kobe, but do not give Howard the same treatment. How many rings does Howard has? How many MVP’s, and Finals MVP’s? If you think basketball fans even consider your comment to be logical or reasonable, you are sadly mistaken. Howard didn’t even beat Andrew Bynum’s sorry excuse of a game in the Finales matchup in 2009. He couldn’t even be the Orlando best scorer in any of those games, which btw were only 4, because they got swept! SO go back to mommy’s breast and start over again buddy, because nobody is buying what you are selling.