Following elimination from the playoffs last night, a frustrated Dwight Howard faced the eager media who had already begun speculations about his future with the Orlando Magic. Before a question regarding this could be completed Howard cut in and had this to say:
“That has nothing to do with right now. There’s no need for me to comment on it. So let’s not even talk about it. There’s no need to bring it up. Right now, I’m going to figure out how I can get myself better for next season, not about what team I’m going to play for. So all the speculation can stop. There’s no need to talk about it.”
Unlike recent superstars that have moved area codes, namely LeBron and Carmelo, Howard left everything out there on the floor. Averaging an astonishing 27 points, 15.5 rebounds and 1.8 blocks, he didn’t check out the way LeBron did in against Boston in the second round of last year’s playoffs and Carmelo as the trade deadline neared this year.
Prior to Game 6 it would seem that Howard already put his house up for sale and had his bags packed as speculations grew, however reports indicate the contrary. “I am going to do whatever I can to lead my city,” said Howard. “I love Orlando — Our fans deserve a championship and I am going to keep fighting. That’s all I can do is keep fighting.”
Related post: Does an exit for Orlando mean an exit for Dwight Howard?
President of basketball operations, Otis Smith, confirmed he had no intentions to trade Howard before the February 2012 deadline. What you would conclude from these statements is that Dwight will remain the face of the franchise for many years to come. This may be so but Smith will have to explain why he made that roster overhaul mid-season and why he should be trusted in putting together the pieces for a championship. In my opinion his decision making has been very anti-championship. However Magic CEO Bob Vander Weide says Smith is expected to be back next season.
As much as the Magic try to change the perception of the situation, speculation will grow until Howard has either signed an extension or moved to another city.
It looks like it will be another exciting summer. Stay tuned in!
Until next time..
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The New York Knicks have decided to stick with Chauncey Billups for the 2011-12 season, picking up a team option for the final year on his contract.
Knicks President of Basketball Operations, Donnie Walsh, said the following:
“We have made a decision to keep Chauncey Billups for the upcoming 2011-12 season. Chauncey, Amar’e and Carmelo are a great nucleus, as we continue to look to improve our team going into the off-season. Chauncey is an extremely talented and experienced point guard — we are very happy to have him back.”
A lot of questions arose about what direction the Knicks would head this offseason after their dismal performance in the playoffs. Most of those questions have been directed at Mike D’Antoni’s coaching philosophy, how it is not an effective way to win championships and how an up-tempo point guard is needed to run that sort of offense. With all due respect to Chauncey, his game doesn’t really complement the run and gun style of this system which leads me to believe that there could be a possible coaching change in the near future or a trade.
This is why bringing back Chauncey is a very good move by New York, it gives them a number of options in what they can do in the future and he is possibly the best point guard available in this year’s free agent class. One is to stay with D’Antoni and trade for a high-octane point guard or other pieces needed to run that system, another is to make a coaching change to complement their star players or New York’s management could do a combination of both, bring in a new coach that will compliment new players. I don’t want to read too far into Walsh’s statement but it doesn’t sound like the Knicks are done with making changes just yet.
Personally I don’t think Billups or Carmelo are a good fit for the D’Antoni seven second offense, both have had more success in the half court rather than in transition and getting up quick shots. Therefore when Walsh looks to continue to improve his team I’m picking that it will be to compliment his star player’s style of play.
I am very interested in seeing what happens next.
Until next time..
Many will say that it is a championship or bust year for the Orlando Magic. The reason behind this is the looming free agency of Dwight Howard following the 2011-12 season.
The Magic are now on the brink of elimination, down 3-1 to the Atlanta Hawks and Howard has been doing everything in his power to get wins for his team. Averaging 33.3 points on 66.7% from the field and pulling down 17.5 rebounds per game. He has also played all but 12 minutes in the four games this series however these astonishing numbers have only been good enough to win one game.
Where are the Magic going wrong?
A consistent trend during the playoffs is Orlando’s under achieving supporting cast. You must wonder what kind of confidence Howard has in his GM, Otis Smith, to put together the pieces of a championship team. I’m thinking it’s not high.
So far Smith’s efforts have been questionable at best, signing Rashard Lewis to a large contract, who turned out to be very ineffective. Trading away their backup center, Marcin Gortat, who provided valuable minutes and now bringing in the like of a broken Gilbert Arenas. I could go on, but I imagine you get the point, it would be hard for Howard to stay in Orlando with what seems to be anti-championship management.
What do the Magic have ahead of them if their playoffs are cut short?
My prediction is nothing good. Howard is one of the most low maintenance superstars in the league, it’s hard to see him leave the franchise that he has been with his entire career. We all know he wants a championship, he hasn’t kept that a secret and recently we’ve seen the leagues biggest stars make moves that were thought unimaginable. Fans have already created the website staydwight.com, so you know that free agency is no out of the question.
All the cards are with Dwight, if he chooses to test out the free agent market and Smith keeps his word on not trading his superstar big man, chances are high that Orlando will be the next Cleveland. The smartest decision would be to trade Howard and at least get some value for him.
Where could Howard land next season if he is traded?
There would be many teams wanting to give up valuable pieces in order to get him on their roster. The likes of Los Angeles, New Jersey or even Chicago would all be possibilities. Chicago have a number of players that Orlando might be interested in, I could imagine the trade will involve some combination of Noah, Boozer, Asik, Gibson and Deng. LA also has some assets, Bynum would be in the middle of that trade with the addition of Odom or Brown and without a question, New Jersey, who have the rising star in Brook Lopez.
However it’s hard to say what will happen, Orlando still have a chance to continue in the playoffs, a very slim one, but nothing that hasn’t been done before. Last time someone came back from a 3-1 deficit was the Phoenix Suns in round 1 of the 2006 playoffs against the Lakers. Anything is possible.
It looks like it will be another eventful offseason.
Until next time..