Going inside Howard's head, trade-deadline fallout - NBC Sports

Going inside Howard's head, trade-deadline fallout
Observing agent believes it's likely All-Star center will ultimately stay in Orlando;Nets, Lakers face uncertain future on trade day, while Nuggets, Spurs take gambles
Magic center Dwight Howard decidedÿto waive his opt-out clause Thursday.
March 15, 2012, 11:03 pm

Q: What is to be made of Dwight Howard's vacillating and ultimate decision to bypass his opt-out for 2012-13 and remain with the Magic?
A: After watching Howard's Thursday media session, the immediate impression was Dwight still is not exactly at peace with where things stand.

That led me into a conversation with an agent who represents his own A-list star. Here's his perspective:

The agent said the ultimate resolution reminded him of how Johnson decided to take the money from the Hawks to remain in a comfortable, familiar and relatively low-pressure environment.

"Dwight could own that city," the agent said. "You go to New York or Brooklyn or however you want to phrase it and is he the same type of star there, with (Derek) Jeter and (Eli) Manning and everyone else?

"Look, I don't know him personally, but I know that he can get all his branding done just as well in Orlando. Name me one guy who's gone from what they call a small market to a big market and picked up that much more marketing, anything significant. Carmelo? Haven't seen it.

"(Howard) can be the face of that franchise for as long as he wants to be. I just think that's who he is."

We spoke a bit longer about whether this just puts off the inevitable move, but the agent said he wouldn't be surprised if Howard simply extended when again allowed, rather than go through this again.

"I can't see him wanting to do this all over next season," the agent said. "You can see it has taken a lot out of him."

Usually in these cases, it's either a strong-willed player who tells his "people" how he wants it to play out, or a strong support system that guides the player through the landmines.

Howard, it seems, got caught in the middle.

Don't be surprised if Howard winds up as the next Tim Duncan, dominant enough to be recognized for greatness even while playing his entire career outside of a major market.

Q: What happens next for the Nets?
A: It's odd that with teams such as the Lakers, Spurs and Clippers involved in deadline-day deals, a team such as the Nets requires so much focus.

Then again, this might be the last time we look in their direction for a while.

Although it's debatable when it comes to who "won" the deadline, is there any question about the day's biggest loser?

And enough about Gerald Wallace. He's the type of player you get at the deadline to say, "Hey, look, we did something." What exactly, in the grand playoff scheme, has Gerald Wallace accomplished?

Somehow, you'd think the last team that could afford to give up a pick that could be as high as No. 4 in this June's draft would be the Nets.

Instead of Deron Williams and Dwight Howard, it sure looks like the ultimate answer for the Nyets soon enough will be neither of the above.

Williams to Dallas in free agency makes far more sense for Williams than another season of this.

Yes, the Nets will have plenty of cash to spend in free agency, but for what? Certainly not anything the caliber of Howard.

Q: Who made the boldest move at the deadline?
A: Got to give it to the Nuggets. Taking on JaVale McGee is either sheer brilliance or sheer insanity.

The Nuggets already are an eclectic bunch, but also a bunch you'd have a hard time turning away from. To a degree, they're sort of the mini-Clippers, in a Chris Paul (Ty Lawson)-DeAndre Jordan (JaVale McGee)-Blake Griffin (Danilo Gallinari) type of way.

Q: Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is smarter than the rest of us, isn't he?
A: Yes he is. Because San Antonio clearly is the only team that can make it work at this stage with Stephen Jackson.

Nope, never saw that deal with Golden State coming, and yet Jackson adds the dynamic element that simply wasn't there with Richard Jefferson.

Plus, it opens the door for Kawhi Leonard to start, perhaps the most significant element of the move.

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Q: Is Kobe Bryant the next to go for the Lakers?
A: First a money deal with Lamar Odom, now a money deal with Derek Fisher? It does make you wonder about the ultimate priority for the Buss family.

That said, the Lakers also got better by adding Ramon Sessions (although that deal saved long-term money, as well).

The shame is that they couldn't make the Michael Beasley deal happen. The sense here is that Kobe could have gotten through to the kid.

Fisher would have been miserable in such a reduced role if he stayed, but there had to be a better way than this penny-pinching.

Q: Did Larry Bird act too hastily?
A: Not sure that even with Leandro Barbosa the Pacers make it out of the first round, but it was refreshing that the Pacers actually put their remaining cap space to use.

To a degree, the Pacers had to do something, with their standing below the salary-cap floor.

But with the Barbosa addition, the Pacers no longer have the cap flexibility to put in a waiver claim for Chris Kaman, should he be bought out by the Hornets.

Q: The most confusing moment of the deadline would be?
A: The Wizards' adding Nene. It's sort of like when they added Rashard Lewis, taking on a big contract for a franchise that has years to go before another meaningful game.

Shouldn't the Wizards be collecting younger prospects and picks?

Q: Will the March 23 buyout deadline offer its own drama?
A: It will be fascinating to see how NBA commissioner David Stern handles a potential Chris Kaman buyout after he previously vetoed the trade of Chris Paul to the Lakers.

Stern said he voided the Paul trade to the Lakers simply because it was not in the Hornets' best interests, with Stern overseeing the team in the void of an independent owner.

In this case, if Stern can shave a few bucks off the Hornets' books with a buyout, and also afford additional playing time for the Hornets' younger players, then it seemingly shouldn't make a difference if Kaman goes on to bolster the power rotation of the Heat, Celtics, Mavericks, Pacers or Rockets.

On the other hand, there is no requirement to offer a buyout.

Figure on a bunch of veterans at the ends of contracts coming available by the buyout deadline for playoff eligibility elsewhere, perhaps not on the level of Steve Nash, but players who nonetheless could help alter the playoff equation, such as Charlotte's disgruntled Boris Diaw.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.

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