I'm not sure how this wasn't big news, but apparently on Friday, Dwight Howard completely changed his stance on being traded to the Bulls.
The Chicago Tribune reported as much in today's edition- again, I don't see why this wasn't bigger news earlier- saying that Dwight would now welcome a trade to the Bulls.
Here is some of what he said after the Magic lost to the lowly Bobcats on Friday:
"If I could play with Derrick right now and God wanted that to happen, it will happen," Howard told the Tribune. "It has nothing to do with me not wanting to play with Derrick Rose. I love him. That's my brother.''
"It has nothing to do with Adidas," Howard said. "In fact, Adidas would love that because me and Derrick have the same guy."
"It's about wherever God wants me to play, wherever He wants me to go," Howard said. "If that's Chicago, then it's Chicago. I'm praying that He's going to put me where I need to be."
Since at least last summer, Dwight has expressed his desire to get out of Orlando, and his ability to opt out of his contract this summer means he has to be taken seriously.
His list of teams that he would accept a trade to has consistently included only the Lakers, Mavericks and Nets. Which has led to my stance that I wasn't interested in Howard- not because he didn't want to be a Bull, but because he didn't care about winning, or he would welcome a trade to Chicago.
Yes, the Mavs won the championship last season, but they are an old team that is near the end of it's run in it's current form. The Lakers have Kobe, but he's about at the end of his prime, not that he doesn't have four or five more great years left. The Nets? They are the Nets, all they have to offer is Deron Williams (who is no Derrick Rose) and the New York market.
Even in my conversations with people in Orlando, they all agree 100% that if Dwight really wants the best chance at winning, he'd want to go to Chicago. Put the most dominant center of his era with the most dominant point guard of his era, and you are some defensive, 3-point shooting role-players away from being the favorite to win the championship each and every year for the next decade.
Well now, we apparently have reached that point. This is what my good buddy Lee Goldberg, co-host of "Inside the Locker Room" on AM 740 (The Game) in Orlando, had to say today:
Friends.. i want everyone to understand something in regards to the magic. We all love dwight howard. Great player, great guy in the community, good overall person. Its sucks that he doesnt want to be here. He.can place blame wherever he wants but at the end of the day he has the right to stay or go. However he chooses to go. This is on him. He has quit on us. This team, this franchise, this community. He doesnt want to be here and finish what he started. Makes you truly value guys like dan marino, peyton manning and even patrick ewing, tho he left, his career was done. So ive accepted it. Good luck to u dwight. I hope u find what youre looking for but i promise you, you will never be loved in this city again and grass is not greener. Magic fans must boo everytime he touches the ball while still wearing that uniform.
Another former co-worker, the one and only Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel, had this to say today:
And then, GM Otis Smith- who supplied Van Gundy with this bunch- needs to change the roster. He should grant Howard his trade, not only to reload, but to revive the franchise's spirit. The equally dysfunctional Lakers might be ready to deal.
The Magic aren't just losing games. Sunday was even too much for polite Magic fans, as they lightly booing during this sorry display. (I copied that from their website, you might need to yell at your proofreader, Schmitty)
B-Schmitz has covered the Magic since their inception, and he isn't one to say things just to hear himself speak (or to read himself write, as the case may be)- if he says it's time for Howard to leave Orlando, it's time.
This is just a hunch, but the only reason Otis Smith hasn't dealt Howard yet is that he hasn't been offered a good enough package in return. The Bulls, however, have multiple valuable assets they can deal, giving Otis his choice of compensation.
It obviously starts with Joakim Noah. As much as I love Jo, and what he means to the team, if you bring in Howard he has to go. He's worth more to the Magic than any other team in the league, simply because he's a Gator. Gators are much more beloved than the Magic in Orlando, and he would be an instant fan favorite, even before his play on the court earned him that status.
The Charlotte pick? It's Orlando's in a nanosecond if you're trading for Howard. Smith has to sell this trade to his fan base, and with the way the Bobcats completely suck right now, this pick looks like a great one right about now.
Taj Gibson or Omer Asik? I'd rather give them Omer if we have Howard, but either one will work. Boozer actually looks like a decent fit with Howard owning the low post on offense, Carlos could shoot open 18-footers all night.
Deng? Probably a bit much to throw in if you're giving them Noah, Taj/Omer AND the Charlotte pick, but if the absolutely have to include Luol to make the deal happen, you have to do it. Honestly, though, I don't think the Magic would want Deng- he's fairly well-compensated for two more seasons after this one, and while he's worth it to the Bulls, he's not the kind of guy a rebuilding team wants to spend that much money on.
I don't know if the Magic would want to unload Jameer Nelson- he has a player option for next season at $8.6 million, so they might. I'll assume they would, if they were trading for Deng.
The Bulls can throw in their first-round picks in 2012 and 2014, and take back the Magic's 2nd rounders.
The Magic are going to want to get younger, unload Turkoglu's salary, and add draft picks. This trade does all of that:
Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, CJ Watson, Bulls 1st-rd picks in 2012 and 2014, Charlotte's 1st-rounder (whenever the protection on it allows)
Dwight Howard, Hedo Turkoglu, Justin Harper and DeAndre Liggins, 2 future 2nd-round picks
Here's what the Bulls would look like this year after the trade:
PG- Rose, JL3
SG- Hamilton, Butler, Liggins
SF- Deng, Turkoglu
PF- Boozer, Scalabrine, Harper
C- Howard, Asik
Obviously, this team really only goes 7 deep, 8 if you count JL3. Really, I think they would bring back Mike James if they trade Watson. You can't go into the playoffs with JL3 as your backup PG, and James is a veteran who is better equipped to handle 8-10 minutes a game of playoff basketball.
But they would have to add a veteran SG and PF for the playoffs.
That shouldn't be too hard to do- JR Smith, Wilson Chandler and Kenyon Martin are all waiting on the Chinese season to end in February so that they can sign in the NBA. The Bulls would be able to offer any of them pretty decent back-up minutes on a team going for a championship, and K-Mart especially would be a perfect fit on this team with his defensive prowess.
I don't think the Magic will get a better deal than this. And if they insist on adding Deng to the deal, I would even throw in Deng for Jameer Nelson in the trade, it would still work salary-cap wise.
The Bulls got lucky, 1.7% landed them a superstar. Reinsdorf is smart enough to know that this is a superstar's league, and if you have the chance to add another superstar- at the thinnest and most important position in the NBA, no less- you do whatever it takes to make it happen.