Dwight Howard free agency

The Free Agency market is in full swing, with Chris Paul re-signing with the Clippers and Dwight Howard meeting with potential suitors as he contemplates a move out of Los Angeles, most recently meeting with the Houston Rockets.


Greg Oden is back on the NBA news circuit with reported interest from the Spurs, Mavericks, Pacers and Grizzlies. In total there are 8 teams reportedly interested in the injury-plagued big man.


The New Orleans Pelicans are getting a new home court (is it really ‘new’ if the team name is new? Wouldn’t this just be the ‘first’ Pelicans court?) and it’s not nearly as flamboyant or exciting as you might expect.


For some reason The Tailgator has penned a very long piece that attempts to be a tongue-in-cheek article about talking to kids regarding tattoos and athletes. Um, okay.


Oh, yeah, remember Dwight Howard? The same Dwight Howard that was thinking about leaving L.A.? There’s als a story that Steve Nash and Kobe are trying to help keep him in Southern California.


Finally, let’s talk realignment. College fans hate it. Colleges try not to care. Conferences think it’s awesome and the wave of the future where they make gobs more money than they do now. But the monkey wrench in all of this is how far the NCAA will push March Madness (they probably have already added too many teams) and how long before club teams start showing up to buy off the biggest basketball players from high school and AAU teams, thus removing the source of free labor that’s running this financial engine. So, not sure if realignment really means anything in the long run or just people pushing money around like Enron.

By Marcus Shockley

New Orleans Hornets Chris Paul (R) drives on Los Angeles Lakers Derek Fisher during Game 5 of their NBA Western Conference first round playoff basketball game in Los Angeles, California April 26, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)


Oh, there’s so much to talk about these days.

With the end of the lockout, you would think that the real NBA discussions wouldn’t begin until sometime after the first exhibition game tipped off; this is a sport, after all, and the primary focus is supposedly who wins and loses the games, but that’s never stopped the sports media from churning as much out of nothing as they possibly can.

One of the best formulas for creating sports stories out of thin air is what comedian Greg Proops once called the ‘What-If’ News, as in, ‘What IF Chris Paul joined the Knicks’ or ‘What IF the Celtics tried to trade Rajon Rondo?’. This, of course, is all speculation on what will happen many months from now, on the other side of a season, albeit shortened, but still rather lengthy. This is also ignoring the current free agent market that’s about to open, under the new CBA, because the current free agent market is rather dull, with the largest target possibly being Nene.

No, the discussion is lot more interesting when we talk about players like Deron Williams, Dwight Howard and Chris Paul.

With all of the first little bevy of rumors spilling out, we’ve heard already about the Nets trying to offer big deal to Howard, and how Deron Williams won’t sign an extension with them. Yesterday the rumor was that Chris Paul wanted to go to New York, but Paul rebuffed those rumors. Honestly, it’s far too early for any of this to have real credence, but there are some things that can be used as guidance on how this could shake out, and it starts on the West Coast.

The Lakers are one of the teams that really understands how to look to the future, and they have a long history of going out at the right time and putting together the next glamour team that will contend for, and usually win, a few NBA titles. The Lakers also have a solid track record of letting other NBA teams work almost as a farm system, taking risks, getting the bust draft picks, until the good players shake out and the Lakers move them to L.A.. Consider this: Wilt Chamberlain was traded to the Lakers only one year after winning the league MVP. Kareem Abdul Jabbar didn’t get drafted by the Lakers, but he retired there with the all time scoring record in his back pocket. Shaq did his young days alongside Penny Hardaway in Orlando before he teamed up with Kobe. If you want to know the big free agent moves that are about to happen, all you need to know is that the Lakers are about to transition away from Kobe into their next incarnation, and that whatever that team looks like will be one that will sell tickets and more than likely win some championships. Does that mean Chris Paul and Dwight Howard? Or Deron Williams?

What happens next summer will be driven by what the Lakers are going to do; not because everyone in the league is scared of the Lakers, but because most of the teams in the league are just bad at putting together deep, winning teams. The closest team right now that has a roster to be afraid of for the long term is Chicago, and with the Mavs and Spurs aging, the league is poised for new blood, such as the Bulls or maybe the Heat, to make a move.

The only problem is, the Lakers have seen this before. The Spurs and Mavs make good moves on their own as well, but they have a hard time competing with the deep pockets and glitz of L.A., so it’s tough to say where their long term prospects are. The Spurs draft really well but is there another Tim Duncan out there in the college ranks?

So even though I won’t be paying too much attention to all the made up and strategically ‘leaked’ free agent talk, I will be paying attention to what the Lakers do this offseason.

Atlanta Hawks left Zaza Pachulia (27) and Atlanta Hawks guard Kirk Hinrich (6) double-team Orlando Magic left Dwight Howard (12) in the first half of their NBA playoff basketball game at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia April 28, 2011. REUTERS/David Tulis (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)


This NBA lockout has already broken new ground.

During the last lockout, players were seemingly limited in their ability to earn money while they could not play in the NBA. With the exception of players whose contracts were marginal, many top NBA players are looking to maintain some level of income by playing professionally overseas. With former NBA players having paved the way into Europe, Turkey and China, this option is much more attractive to current players.

The latest player who has mentioned the possibility of playing overseas is Dwight Howard, who said recently he would consider playing in China or Europe. Someone of Howard’s star power could make a significant amount of money playing in either of those places. It should be noted that the options available to Howard are not equal for all NBA players, but any current NBA player would have at least some options for playing elsewhere. Leagues around the world consider the talent level in the NBA to be the best, and jump at the chance to sign players with even a minor amount of NBA playing time.