Denton's Action and Reaction: Aug. 7

By John Denton
August 7, 2012

ORLANDO – For every action there’s a reaction. So let’s look at some of the major happenings around the NBA and react to the news:

ACTION: Orlando Magic star center Dwight Howard cancels his appearance at his kids’ camp next week in Orlando.

REACTION: Howard has held his camp in Orlando for several years and has done more work in the community than any player in Magic history, so some latitude should be given to the big man. Also, the company conducing the camp has replaced Howard with rookie forward Andrew Nicholson and his offering refunds to those unhappy that Howard won’t be attending.

Howard’s official reason for missing the event is that he has to remain in Southern California to continue the rehabilitation on his back. Howard had surgery in April to repair a herniated disc and to remove sizeable bone fragments from his lower back.

The injury was serious enough to cause Howard to miss the first significant chunk of regular-season games in his eight-year career, miss the playoffs and miss out on playing in the Summer Olympics.

But Howard has also repeatedly asked to be traded out of Orlando, and he’s undoubtedly avoiding what would have been a media/fan circus at the camp. Rather than the focus being on Dwight working with the kids at the camp, the gist of the event would have centered around fans asking Howard to remain in Orlando and the media analyzing the superstar center’s every move.

Clearly, Howard still wants to start over anew somewhere else and undoubtedly grown frustrated with the Magic’s unwillingness to trade him. But give new GM Rob Hennigan credit for not caving in and accepting a bad deal for the only player in NBA history to win three straight Defensive Player of the Year awards.

There is seemingly no end in sight to the Dwight drama. A possible trade to the Brooklyn Nets – Howard’s preferred destination – can’t happen until Jan. 15 at the earliest. A deal with the Los Angeles Lakers – another deal that Howard reportedly would accept – is stuck in neutral because of the Lakers’ inability to take on additional contracts from the Magic. And if the Houston Rockets were willing to trade for Howard as a one-season rental and also absorb some of the Magic’s long-term contracts, well, if that offer is truly on the table why then hasn’t it happened yet?

New Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn said last week he hoped to sit down face-to-face with Howard to ``look into his eyes.’’ Vaughn, a bright, well-spoken and likeable sort, will do his best to sell Howard on his vision and try to bring him back to the team. After all, Vaughn spent the later portion of his career playing with Tim Duncan, and he could sell Howard on a plan where every facet of the game plan is designed around his talents.

For now, it’s looking more and more like Howard will still be on the Magic’s roster at the start of training camp come Oct. 1. Whether he reports or not remains to be seen, but as of now there is little going on in terms of Howard trade activity. Hennigan still receives calls from teams looking to snag Howard on the cheap, but the Magic have remained steadfast in their willingness only to make the trade that best serves the organization.

ACTION: Celtics coach Doc Rivers took the hit for veteran shooting guard Ray Allen leaving Boston to sign with the rival Miami Heat.

REACTION: Rivers was trying to take the heat off point guard Rajon Rondo, who has made no secret about the fact that he and Allen didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of things in the Celtics’ system. Allen didn’t like that Rondo dominated the ball so much and look to spread it around instead of sticking to plays that had Allen running off a variety of screens.

Rivers was just simply showing why players love him so much and play exceptionally hard for him. They know he has their back and that he understands what they are going through because he once played the game at a high level. Rivers, who briefly inserted rookie Avery Bradley in the starting lineup last season as Allen struggled with ankle injuries, took the fall for Rondo, saying he was the one who instructed the point guard to become more assertive in the offense.

``People can use all the Rondo stuff – and it was there, no doubt about that – but it was me more than Rondo,’’ Rivers told Yahoo! Sports. ``I’m the guy who gave Rondo the ball. I’m the guy who decided that Rondo needed to be more of the leader of the team. That doesn’t mean guys liked that – and Ray did not love that – because Rondo now had the ball all the time.

``Think about everything (Allen) said when he left, `I want to be more of a part of the offense.’ Everything was back at Rondo,’’ Rivers continued. ``And I look at that, and say, `That’s not Rondo’s fault.’ That’s what I wanted Rondo to do, and that’s what Rondo should’ve done.’’

Two things are striking here to me: That Rivers is defending Rondo now is amusing because for years the point guard’s stubbornness and unwillingness to carry out designed plays has infuriated the coach. Also, Allen took half the money to go to Miami and even though he wants to be more a part of the offense, he will be playing off the bench in Miami. The dysfunction between Allen, Rondo and Allen must have been much worse than people realize because Allen seems to have really wanted out of Boston.

ACTION: After a year out of the NBA supposedly retired, former all-star shooting guard Brandon Roy returns to sign with the Minnesota Timberwovles.

REACTION: Who does this guy think he is? A professional boxer?

Upon signing a two-year, $10.4 million contract with the T-wolves, Roy admitted that it never was his idea to retire last December before the start of the lockout-delayed season. Roys, former team, the Portland Trail Blazers, announced Roy’s retirement last season because his knees were lacking cartilage following six operations. The Blazers used the amnesty clause to waive Roy and not count the remaining $63 million on his contract against their salary cap or luxury tax.

``It was never really officially my decision to retire,’’ Roy said at his news conference in Minnesota.

Roy, 28, stressed that he isn’t simply returning to be the 10th man on the roster or some rah-rah bench guy. After having a controversial knee procedure performed called platelet-rich plasma therapy, Roy is hoping he can get back to the point of playing 35 minutes a game again. For the plasma therapy procedure, Roy travelled to Europe where he had doctors withdraw blood, spin it to cull the strongest platelets and then had them injected back into his troublesome knee. Other sports stars such as Kobe Bryant and Alex Rodriguez have used the procedure with success.

``After a few months of sitting out, I decided, `Hey, I don’t want to stop playing basketball,’’’ said Roy said, who was originally picked by Minnesota but traded for Randy Foye on draft night in 2006. ``I wanted to continue going forward. It was never a situation where I said, `I’m done forever.’ It’s just more of a pause.’’

ACTION: Team USA bounced back from a five-point scare against Lithuania by using a second-half explosion to throttle Argentina 126-97.

REACTION: Let’s be honest, there are only three teams – Spain, Lithuania and Argentina – who can even stay within striking distance of a USA squad composed of LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Bryant and others. Surviving against Lithuania, throttling Argentina and Spain’s recent loss to Russia would seem to suggest that the Americans will breeze to another gold medal.

The scare against Lithuania – Team USA trailed by two points with 7 minutes remaining – wasn’t that shocking considering the history between the two teams. I was there in Sydney in 2000 when Team USA won by two points and had to withstand a potential game-winning 3-point shot at the buzzer. The five-point win this time around was the narrowest margin of victory since the 2000 nail-biter.

Team USA seemed to have its hands full again on Monday with a talented Argentina roster that features Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola and Andres Nocioni. Team USA led just 60-59 at intermission after Argentina shot 56 percent in the first half.

But a remarkable shooting display by Durant just after halftime secured the win. Durant scored 17 of his 28 points in USA’s 42-point third quarter. Druant made four 3-pointers in the period with the final one coming from two steps inside the halfcourt stripe.

An easy game against Australia is next on Wednesday in the quarterfinals. The French could pose a small threat to the Americans, before a likely rematch against Spain in the gold medal game. Those two teams played an epic of a game in 2008, but it is mostly forgotten in this country because the 2:30 a.m. televised time caused many to miss it. All appearances are that USA should coast to the gold again because its small ball attack is just so dominant, James and Durant can take over games anytime they want and the Spaniards aren’t the team they were four years ago.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic. All opinions expressed by John Denton are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Magic or their Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Magic and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.



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