Many thought this Lakers team was a mortal lock for the Western Conference Finals, if not the NBA Finals. I had them losing to Oklahoma City in the West Finals, primarily because of the Steve Nash/Russell Westbrook defensive matchup, but why quibble – even projecting them to make the conference finals was a gross over-estimation of their collective ability. They stumbled out of the gate, getting Mike Brown fired in the process, and have yet to show any sign that they’ll turn things around.
The Lakers have a host of problems, but many of them can be traced back to Dwight Howard. He’s been an awful fit playing alongside Kobe Bryant. He doesn’t like being a complementary player on the offensive end – even though he’s probably the Lakers’ fifth-best scorer. His presence has pushed Pau Gasol out of position. Gasol has been ineffective playing the four, fallen out of the starting five, and like Howard, taken to sulking about his role.
What’s Mitch Kupchak to do? He may have an out. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but according to reports, Dwight Howard is unhappy, isn’t sure what he wants to do with his next contract, and may be traded at the deadline. It might make an awful lot of sense for Kupchak to cut his losses and see what he can get for Howard, rather than risk losing him for nothing in the offseason. A deal sending Howard to his hometown Atlanta Hawks could bring back Josh Smith, a deal that might make sense for both teams.
Of course, there’s a very real possibility that Jim Buss was the real force behind the Howard trade, which could complicate matters significantly. Not to mention Howard’s lingering shoulder injury, which caused him to leave Wednesday’s game. (He should be back in action on Friday.)
via Waiver Wire: Is Dwight the Problem? – RotoWire.com.
The NBA trade deadline usually creates some “buy” opportunities for fantasy basketball players. Problem is, this year’s later-than-usual deadline and compressed schedule might make a lot of teams hesitant to deal.
From this week’s Working the Wire on Rotowire.com:
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith created a bit of a stir by suggesting that the Orlando Magic had made inquiries about sending Dwight Howard to the Knicks in exchange for Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler. Sounds great – especially to Knicks fans – right? Problem is, Stoudemire has an enormous contract that can’t be insured due to his injury history and Chandler – as a free agent signed this year – can’t be dealt until March 1 at the earliest.
Over on SBNation, Mike Prada has suggested that two of the league’s most-improved teams – the Sixers and Pacers – should capitalize on their fast starts by making moves for Howard or Deron Williams. That’s an interesting concept – I thought the Sixers missed an opportunity by not making a big, splashy trade in the offseason. But after watching both teams this season, I’m of the opinion that continuity has played a major role on those teams’ successes.
The continuity factor could become a big issue as the trade deadline approaches. With compressed schedules and extremely limited practice time, getting new players integrated into teams will be even more difficult than usual. Last year’s Knicks are a pretty good example of how a mid-season roster makeover can hurt a team’s performance in the short term. And bear in mind, with the deadline pushed back to mid-March, teams will have even less time to integrate new pieces before the end of the regular season.
The entire article and this week’s waiver picks are at Working the Wire: Things Could Be Quiet at the Deadline – RotoWire.com. (Rotowire subscription required)
We’re spending a lot of time talking about how weak the Knicks bench looks… but have you seen the Nets’ depth chart? Anyone else wondering what they’re up to?
The Nets could be attempting to put together a team based on some of the more successful Dwight Howard-centered Orlando Magic squads, with lots of floor-spacing three-point shooters like Williams and Anthony Morrow to work the perimeter. Of course, that might not be as effective if the Nets are unable to complete a trade for Howard. And that’s got to be a scary proposition for general manager Billy King… because I don’t think a starting frontcourt of Shawne Williams, Shelden Williams and Brook Lopez is going to be enough to convince Deron Williams to re-sign.
via RotoSynthesis >> NBA Training Camp Updates.
Things could get very ugly for the Nets in a hurry. Say they’re unable to acquire Howard during the season. Seems fair to suspect that no Howard would mean no Deron Williams… and that could mean a truly dreadful team opening the Barclays Center next fall.