Denton's Action and Reaction: July 20

By John Denton
July 20, 2012

ORLANDO – For every action, there’s a reaction. So away we go with reactions to some of the headlines around the NBA:

ACTION: Dwight Howard’s agent, Dan Fegan, debunked a report that the superstar center would sign a long-term extension if traded to the L.A. Lakers and says that D-12 wants to become an unrestricted free agent this summer regardless the team he plays for in 2012-13.

REACTION: No big shock here because becoming an unrestricted free agent was always the plan for Howard. Only, the original plan was for him to do so this past July, but all of that changed when Howard surprisingly waived his opt-out clause last March and stuck with the Magic. Howard never attended college and wants to experience the feeling of being courted by teams desperate for his services.

It’s also of very little surprise that Dwight is unwilling to lock himself into a long-term future with the Lakers. L.A. was always a distant third choice on his original list of teams submitted to the Magic after he requested a trade in December. While he might be the first player in history to turn down the Lakers – think Angelina Jolie getting dumped at the prom – Howard wants little to do with playing second- and possibly third-fiddle to Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and maybe even Pau Gasol. Even though it might guarantee him a NBA title, Howard feels like he shouldn’t have to do that at this point in his career. And who can blame him after winning three Defensive Player of the Year trophies, making six straight all-star teams and being picked to the All-NBA squad five straight years?

Bottom line: Regardless of whether Howard plays next season for the Magic, Lakers, Nets or Rockets, he will become an unrestricted free agent next summer – just as he was originally supposed to be this past summer.

ACTION: Jeremy Lin is the newest member of the Houston Rockets after the New York Knicks refuse to match a three-year, $25 million offer sheet.

REACTION: Here is the true irony of the Lin situation – Through the years, the Knicks have given ridiculous contracts to totally worthless members of the team (Think: Jerome James, Eddy Curry, Steve Francis (buyout) and Larry Brown) and now they have a Godsend like Lin fall in their laps and they can’t afford to keep him.

By some estimations, the $14.8 million that Lin is scheduled to earn in 2014-14 would have cost the Knicks a whopping $43 million. And clearly a still-unproven Lin isn’t worth that kind of financial hit. But had the Knicks not had such a bloated, overpaid roster to begin with they would have never been in the situation where the Rockets’ ``poison pill’’ contract would have hurt them so badly.

Lin has his flaws and started to come back to earth after his glorious three-week stretch early last season. But the kid has plenty of moxie and talent and will be a big hit with the Rockets. And he will help Houston reconnect with the Asian just as Yao Ming did years before.

As for the Rockets, think about this vicious life cycle – They had Lin on their roster last December, but let him go because they already had Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic at point guard. Houston acquired Lowry a couple of years ago because they didn’t want to give a contract extension to Aaron Brooks. When Dragic became a standout and projected as the starter, Lowry wanted out and was traded to Toronto. Dragic ultimately signed a free-agent deal with the Phoenix Suns, forcing the Rockets to overpay Lin and once again pursue Brooks as the backup. Got it? Me neither.

ACTION: The NBA’s Board of Governors approved a measure that will allow teams to wear small advertising patches on their jerseys in 2013-14 and also increased referees’ ability to use instant replay late in games.

REACTION: And so it begins with the small patch of advertising on the jerseys. It starts with one small patch and in a decade the players just might resemble Ricky Bobby-like NASCAR drivers. Just imagine the Jiffy Lube/Tide/Frank’s Hot Sauce/Bob’s Bail Bonds Charlotte Bobcats coming to an arena near you in the future. Let’s hope it never comes to that, or anything that resembles the European soccer model. I seriously want to throw up every time I see those sponsored jerseys. (As if there weren’t enough reasons to despise soccer already.)

Serious, the good news for the NBA is that the initial advertising set to start in two seasons will generate $100 million in additional revenue for the league and its teams. Teams have a year to go out and find sponsorships for the jerseys and that advertising logo will become a fixture even on the jerseys that fans buy in stores.

As for allowing the expanded use of the replay system, bravo to the Board of Governors for this move. I’ve talked to dozens of referees through the years and they’ve pushed hard to have replay use expanded. It’s a tool right there at their disposal that will only help them to get calls right at the end of games. Finally, referees will be allowed to look once again at the block/charge call as it relates to the restricted area in the lane. It’s a call that is nearly impossible to correctly make in real time – they have to watch the offensive player’s upward motion, the defender getting set and the feet in the restricted area all at the same time – and now the referees will have a tool to help them get it right.

ACTION: USA Basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski changed his starting lineup, inserting Kevin Durant and Deron Williams in an exhibition whipping of Great Britain.

REACTION: Well, that didn’t take too long. Wonder whose idea it was to bench Carmelo Anthony? Team USA assistant and deposed New York Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni?

Seriously, what took so long getting Durant into the starting lineup? I understand that Anthony was the starter on the 2008 team that won gold, but is there anybody on the planet who doesn’t think that Durant isn’t one of the five best players in the world? And with his height and unlimited shooting range, Durant is perfect for the international game.

As for Williams, he replaced Chris Paul as the starting point guard and I have no problem with that whatsoever. I know I am in the minority here, but I have always thought Williams is the better point guard. He’s bigger, dramatically a better shooter, nearly as good a passer and doesn’t gamble as much defensively. And through the years when the two have met face-to-face, Williams has dominated the matchup.

It will be interesting to see how Krzyzewski handles the point guard position because Paul is the incumbent and is best friends with LeBron James and Anthony, but Williams might be the better playmaker. Clearly, both Paul and Williams are going to play/start plenty, but don’t be shocked if Williams is the star of these Olympics with his ability to take over games.

ACTION: JaVale McGee signs a contract extension with the Denver Nuggets for four years and $44 million.

REACTION: My personal reaction is that any player who has his own YouTube blooper reel should not get an average of $11 million a season. (By the way, if you haven’t seen ``JaVale McGee’s Worst Plays’’ it will absolutely make you double over in laughter).

I thought the NBA went through a lockout so that contracts like this didn’t happen any longer. McGee is obviously loaded with freakish athletic talent, but he doesn’t always seem to grasp the concepts of team basketball. And he regularly makes the kind of bone-headed plays that get teams beat. Of course, there’s always a team (Nuggets) and coach (George Karl) who think they can change a player and things will be different in a new environment, so hence the long-term extension.

Speaking of the Nuggets, they have the maximum 15 players under contract for next season and have become the team most likely to unload a good player in an upcoming trade. They have quite the logjam at power forward and center with McGee, Kenneth Faried, Al Harrington, Kosta Koufous, Timofey Mozgov, Chris Andersen and Izzet Turkyilmaz on the roster. If they don’t pull off a trade they undoubtedly will have some unhappy big men come November of next season. Good thing, I guess, that Karl is so good dealing with controversy.

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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