Blogtable: Did Dwight Choose Well?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


Week 37: Dwight’s choice | Smartest early-offseason move | Summer League must-sees


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Dwight picked Houston. Did he make the best decision?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Howard made exactly the right decision because, first, it’s the one I’d been urging for him all along. Second — wait, there’s a need for a second? Oh, OK, I’ll reiterate what I’d been saying, that he needed to get back to a big fish/smaller pond situation, because the Lakers, L.A., that team’s legacy and the expectations all were too much for him. Howard also needs a coach like Kevin McHale who can share big-man wisdom and moves, and craft an offense around him. And he’ll be better off as, at 27, a “veteran” on a younger roster, where he can develop some leadership muscles that weren’t needed around Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and other Lakers. I’m impressed that Howard made the best basketball decision for himself, even if it costs him some spotlight and bad sitcom cameos.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: Depends what you mean by best. He did leave $30 million in salary on the table, taxes or no taxes. From his own personal standpoint, Howard made the easy decision, which was to leave the pressure of playing in L.A. and the burden of playing with Kobe Bryant. He needs to be loved, hugged, cuddled and coddled and he’ll get all of that in Houston, along with a 23-year-old partner who doesn’t already have five championship rings and a penchant for driving his teammates like they were rented mules. He’s back at the center of his own universe and will once again be happy, until he’s not.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: Yeah, I think Dwight made the right decision. These aren’t the Lakers we once knew, from top to bottom. The passing of Dr. Jerry Buss and now with son Jim running the operation, this thing is wobbling badly. Dwight wasn’t buying past titles or promises of future titles and he picked the team best constructed to win now — from top to bottom. The Rockets have solid ownership, a GM who has obviously worked miracles to build a contender and a coach in place that will cater the offense around Dwight, unlike a certain stubborn coach in L.A. some refer to as MDA. Now, would I have liked to have seen Dwight remain in L.A.? Yes. I wanted to see him embrace that challenge. Still, I can’t blame him for fleeing considering the state of dysfunction within a franchise that used to hum.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: He did for this week. In a week and three minutes, who knows with Dwight. But Houston is not a bad decision. Another All-Star already in place, a management team that is smart and aggressive and won’t rest with being a good team, a popular place to live among current and former players, and killer BBQ. Oh, and it’s not Los Angeles. Howard couldn’t handle the heat lamps of being a Laker, even with Kobe Bryant and Mike Brown/Mike D’Antoni taking some of the hits. Shaquille O’Neal was wrong about Houston being a small town. But he was right about it not being the Lakers in L.A.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: I was really intrigued by the possibility of him playing for the Warriors with Steph Curry and Andre Iguodala (with Andrew Bogut and a young piece or two going to L.A. in a sign-and-trade). That would be a Big Three I could really get behind. But I also believe that Houston was the right choice over L.A. The Rockets are better set up to succeed over the next three or four years than the Lakers are. Sure, there is that cap space next summer, but the chances that LeBron James would leave Miami seem slim and Carmelo Anthony isn’t nearly a good enough consolation prize. Starting with James Harden, the Rockets already have (young) pieces in place and there’s no need to wait a year to get started on building toward a championship.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: Yes. He made the absolute best decision for a guy looking for an escape from the pressures of Los Angeles and the Lakers. Of his suitors, the Rockets checked off the most boxes on Dwight’s wish list. He gets to start fresh with a coach and a fellow superstar he respects, and perhaps most importantly, guys who respect his game. He gets to stay in a big market (sorry Shaq, Houston is no “little town”) and compete for the championship(s) that have eluded him thus far in his career. Howard had prime time opportunities to choose from in every direction. But he followed the path of LeBron James and Chris Bosh and chose to play alongside a contemporary with a like mind (James Harden), one who shares the same ultimate goal, and that’s winning big on his own terms. We won’t find out until the 2013-14 playoffs if Howard made the right decision. But the best, for him … it had to be Houston.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: No, Dwight did not make the best decision. Well, perhaps, if we’re talking title chances, because Houston is closer to a ring than the Lakers are, yet to me they’re both behind about five other teams. But I’m thinking money, because like all of us I think about money a lot. And from that standpoint, Dwight left a big chunk of change behind on the table. I know that’s something that should probably be applauded — valuing winning over cash — but this is a guy who’s battled pretty severe injuries and has no time promised to him going forward. I probably would have taken the cash and then somehow made do with living in Beverly Hills.

28 Comments

  1. augustas says:

    i still think pau gasol is better than him, howard is just a cheap cnetre who gets most of his attention and love because of off the court his attitude and funness off the court makes him more popular so im happy that dwight left for pau’s sake

  2. Lakers4ever says:

    Dwight made the best decision for himself, because he couldn’t live up to the pressure in LA and playing alongside Kobe. To me, the money he left behind is no significance, because he will probably be unhappy again and leave after four years claiming to be a hardy veteran with two championship rings and think he’s worth as much as Lebron. Believe me, there are people out there who believe he is worth a max deal. And mind you, LA is one of those teams. As a Laker fan, I would have loved Dwight to stay, but #dwightstay and all this is too much. He’s still a childish little boy who can’t take pressure and will never be a superstar, unlike both Kobe and Shaq.

  3. Gillsy says:

    He made the right decision as has been said the Rockets on the way up and Lakers are a big unknown. I wish Jim would hand the reigns over to Jennie and Phil they would have a brighter future.

  4. SUper Girl says:

    TIME FOR HACK A DWIGHT IN HOUSTON AND LA WILL NOT HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT HIS FREE THROWS ANYMORE. CAN WAIT TO SEE HIM LOOSE AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN!!!

  5. fanofthegame says:

    wherever he goes, he would have to up his game considerably. houston is a fit for him none the less, but again, its all on dwight to make sure he delivers on his promise to perform to the best he can. but hey this is a guy who when only 50% healthy, led the league in rebounding… and he is only 27… so there is a lot of room for him to come back and be a much better player than the “3-time defensive player of the year” dwight howard. i think in 2-3 years, the rockets will be serious contenders

  6. Dan Meadows says:

    I’ve seen the numbers run and the tax differential alone, even factoring in the higher annual raises he would have gotten with the Lakers, means he’ll pocket $7 million more over the four year deal than he would over the first four years in L.A. That fifth year in L.A. woulda been about $26 million, or $23 million deducting the CA state tax. Barring a total collapse, year one of his next contract will almost certainly top that latter number. He may have technically left money on the table in L.A. but the State of California would have gotten all of it and then some. He took less total dollars in Houston but put more money in his own pocket in the process.

  7. Freida says:

    No one can know if he can win a championship in 2014. I bet he will beat the Lakers. Give him a chance. Why should he have played with Dantoni (horrible coach- got rid of him in NY) and Kobe (ball hogger and selfish player and getting too old).

  8. B Radd says:

    This coming from a non basketball playing expert. Probably never played a competitive pickup game before and or even had an orchestrated team to play with on a regular basis with other teams. Dwight will play the game as it comes to him. Houston already has that chemistry and to add the talent Dwight posses it would be easy to integrate him into their game. Was Phil Jackson actually coaching Michael Jordan? Or was he just riding on Michaels coat tail the way he did with Kobe and Shaq. The best coaches are those who actually played the sport, who played with multiple players during the coarse of their playing days. Being able to see what to do with a player is something one would only understand because he must’ve played with someone the likes of Dwight. Robert Parish probably can be a good influence if Houston can get him to join the coaching staff and help with Dwight’s game. I think it is totally up to the resr of the team on how they decide to use Dwight. I know how I would.

  9. Joe 1 says:

    Funny how everybody was doubting Harden on the comments last year when he came to the Rockets…. Dwight has the best low post players to teach him and just look what Houston did for Asik’s game. When we trade Asik for a Power Forward and with Beverly, Smith, TJones and Garciacomin off the bench we already are pretty damn good, just watch and I hope Howard proves #Shaqfool wrong so Inside NBA crew can send his### fishing

    • SUper Girl says:

      WHEN HE FAILS AGAINST VERY GOOD TEAMS IN THE WEST THEN YOU WILL SEE HIM COMPLAIN AGAIN – NOT ENOUGH TALENTS… STUPID CHOICE FOR SHORT TERM REASONS. WE’LL SEE IF THE SO CALLED HOUSTON WILL ADD MORE EXPENSIVE TALENTS. NO MONEY AND I DOUBT.

  10. spurfan says:

    I am so tired of the bull___ fran blinebury gives us. Anybody notice how he never has anything good to say about dwight? And before anyone says Im a Dwight lover, I hate Dwight, but i respect the fact that he basically put his back surgery recovery in jeopardy to play for the lakers. And he still averaged 17 and 13. And led the league in rebounding. Can fran write about something besides how “bad” Dwight is for once? Go —- yourself fran

    • miguelamor22 says:

      Fran Blinebury is a HACK and everybody (including his contemporaries im sure) knows it. He lives in 12 year old boy fantasy land where Kobe, Carmelo, LBJ, Wade and Bosh all team up on the Lakers in 2014 for a ring. He literally just wrote an article about it. He isn’t the only weak link in the blogtable chain, but he is by far the weakest. He writes with the prose of a 4th grader and he really needs to change his avatar picture of whatever you call it because he looks like somebody’s grandma. No Larry Johnson.

  11. Yaz says:

    Ok Jeremy lib is the real leader of Houston

  12. ji z says:

    Yes he made a nice decision, and I bet that Yao Ming and charles barkley will back to nba for a championship and the tritower will dominate the nba together…..

  13. kobe says:

    he will change his mind in about 8 months….he will never win

  14. theholyspectator says:

    at the end of the day, i feel dwight will be one of those players who never wins a ring..its really sad..his game hasnt improved nor has his situation, but who knows maybe signing to houston is it, this may be what he needs, but for them to even make it out of the west in and into the finals, iunno, west is tough

  15. corey roberts says:

    If it’s about winning championships I think no..GSW with him and the pieces they have now would’ve been a team to fearful of.

  16. Kimmy says:

    Let’s be honest here. There are only 2 teams Dwight could have went to, that would be an automatic championship for 2014-The Heat or the OKC. Dwight didn’t chose money or championship. He chose peice of mind (Kobe), chemistry (Kobe), teamwork (Kobe), better coaching style fit (Diantoni), and the promise for playoffs and eventually into championship contention. He knows he’s not winning the title next year, c’mon guys. These are the reasons he chose Houston. But the reality is he is spoiled, easily bored and I agree, who knows what he will think in 6 months 5 days 4 hours 3 minutes and 2 seconds?????

  17. steppx says:

    aschburner is wrong in that he thinks McHale is actually a real coach. He’s symbol, he doesnt coach. He’t not going to import secret wisdom…..how silly. Kelvin Sampson coached last year and now he’s gone so the big unexplored question this year is, WHO actually will coach this team and organize practice and set rotations? Its not McHale, who mostly sits around talking about the old days. Im sure there will be a Howard fluffer in attendance to keep the big dolt happy…..but he wont stay happy because i dont think he’s likely to ever be 100% healthy again, AND SVG managed to hide a lot of howard’s weaknesses. He’s not that good a player. This is all hype. Give me Asik any day. Dwight will occasionally dominate on defense…he might put up some nice numbers, i dont know, but he wont help them win.

    • Larian1983 says:

      It does not take Ibaka and Perkins to stop Howard, because he has no post move. And Tim Duncan will chew him up again at age 38

    • YYY says:

      Kevin McHale is a good coach. Sure, he’s not a Phil Jackson or Doc Rivers but he is a good second-tier coach like Erik Spoelstra and Tom Thibidau.

      • 34yr fan says:

        ….memo to YYYYYYYYYYYYYYY…………..Phil is NOT a coach………..not anymore…… He is an aging senior citizen in retirement.

  18. chitown says:

    Dwight made a good decision, but he’ll have to live up to it. This year he got to choose where he wanted to play instead of the front office choosing for him. It really looked like Dwight did not want to play in LA. Him and Kobe would never coexist. Now that he gets to play with James Harden, he could create a great tandem with him. They could probably create a Kobe and Shaq type of combination. Their scoring abilitles in the backcourt to the front court can really cause problems for teams who have smaller centers and slow backcourts. If they can coexist early in the season, they could bring the Rockets to the 4th seed or even higher. Against the other Western Conference teams, they stack up well.
    Against OKC, Perkins and Ibaka would have to work together to stop Dwight. If they can stop him, that would leave guys like Chandler Parsons and maybe even Omer Asik some open looks. Russell Westbrook and Thabo Sefolosha would take on James Harden. In last season’s first round matchup, Harden got his way against them.
    Against the Spurs, Dwight would have the upper hand on Tiago Splitter. Despite Splitters size, Dwight has more power and good post moves to get by him. Harden and his speed could rattle up San Antonio’s young defense.
    Against the Clippers, a little tougher matchup defensively because of the firepower of CP3 and Blake Griffin. Offensively Dwight could wear down DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin. Harden could easily get by the backcourt defense.

    • Shawn K says:

      I think when the Rockets face the Clippers, The Clippers will have Paul guarding Harden, Paul can keep up with Harden and has a chance to cause turnovers. And I think they will switch Griffin and Jordan to guard Dwight to keep them both relatively fresh. But I think putting Griffin on Howard is a better choice(I know Griffin isn’t the best defender, but he could give Dwight a difficult time when he tries to post up). Honestly, I think the Clippers will beat the Rockets in the season series, but all the games should be good(if there aren’t any injuries that is).

    • UFO says:

      I agree Dwight made a good and quick decision this time. As a long time Lakers’ fan, I am actually glad to see him go to Houston. Two reasons: 1. The Lakers need to start rebuilding like the Celtics. Get as many picks as they can in 2014 Draft. And splash 2014 free agencies, 2. Dwight is not the next dominated center, not even close. But he is the best center we have in the league in this era, despite he does not have any power move. He is a pick N roll player only knows how to roll. He is also a rebounding machine cuz of his athletic abilities not becoz he knows how to use his body and leg, and you will lose your athletic abilities after you enter your 30s, just look at Dwade and Kobe. Hope he will really learn some stuffs from McHale and Hakeem to become a more completed player. Then he might be able to earn one ring with Houston.