Denton's Action and Reaction: July 26

By John Denton
July 26, 2012

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

ACTION: Magic GM Rob Hennigan reportedly met Dwight Howard in Los Angeles on Wednesday and the all-star center allegedly said that he still wants to be traded to either the Lakers immediately or the Nets in January.

REACTION: Hennigan is clearly making an effort to build a relationship with Howard and show him the plan the team has for the future. Assuredly, Hennigan has talked to Howard about whom he plans to hire as the next head coach and the path to rebuilding the franchise. Whether or not Howard balked at those ideas, I’m not sure and he very well could have said that he still wishes to be traded out of Orlando.

Howard is reportedly frustrated that the Magic haven’t already dealt him and that they passed on potential trades with the Nets, Rockets and Lakers. Howard wants nothing to do with playing for the Rockets and has apparently come around on the possibility of playing for the Lakers after snubbing his nose at the idea all last year.

Publicly airing that frustration over not being traded doesn’t help Howard get any closer to ending up with another team. All that does is hurt the Magic’s leverage and make it even more difficult to get something similar to value for the six-time all-star. And if we’ve learned anything throughout this process, it’s that Hennigan isn’t about to accept just any deal in order to appease Howard.

Howard’s unwillingness to give Orlando another chance to rebuild around him signals that a trade is fully necessary now. I’ve been a proponent of hanging onto the center and exhausting every avenue in hopes of changing his mind once again, but it’s apparent now that a fresh start is needed for all parties. Hennigan is still willing to wait for the right deal, meaning if the Lakers want Howard they are going to have to find a third team to take on some of the Magic’s long-term contracts. And that just might take weeks, if not months, to materialize.

So settle in Magic fans, the Daily Dwight Drama that has played out for the past eight months could still be a long way from ending.

ACTION: The Rockets used their ``poison pill’’ structure in an offer sheet to steal away another restricted free agent. A week ago it was Jeremy Lin from the Knicks and now it’s Omer Asik from the Bulls.

REACTION: With the Knicks and Bulls not wanting to pay $25.1 million for Lin and Asik and delve deeper into the luxury tax, could it be that the new Collective Bargaining Agreement reached last November after the lockout is actually working?

Granted, the Rockets grossly overpaid for Lin and Asik by giving the two career backups starters’ money. And to make matters worse, both players will be getting back-loaded deals of $14.8 million in 2014-15. Both had better be not only starting, but playing at an all-star level by then to justify the salaries given to them. That’s hard to envision considering that Lin began to flat-line last season after a brilliant start and Asik averaged just 3.1 points and 5.3 rebounds a game last season.

Clearly teams are more fearful than ever of going too deep into the luxury tax because of the financial penalties and the ways that it impacts teams’ abilities to chase free agents. Finally, the rich can’t just keep getting richer by hording players with monstrous payrolls without paying a stiff penalty for doing so. When the Knicks let go of a potential cash cow and fan favorite like Lin it sounded the alarm that there’s finally a new system that’s working in the NBA.

ACTION: Grant Hill shocked some in the basketball world when he shunned the Los Angeles Lakers and signed instead with the L.A. Clippers.

REACTION: You know things have changed in L.A. when a player actually bypasses the Lakers for the revamped Clippers. That’s the power that a dynamic point guard like Chris Paul can have on a franchise.

Hill will bring some much-needed leadership and discipline to a Clippers team that had a meltdown in the playoffs last spring. The 39-year-old small forward proved last season that he still has plenty of spring in his step by reinventing himself as one of the league’s best on-ball defenders. And even though he’s been through a myriad of ankle and knee injuries, Hill is still sneaky quick and can get past defenders from time to time.

Many figured that Hill’s close friendship with Steve Nash would have him ending up with the Lakers. But Hill is clearly his own man and makes decisions that best suit him. And beneath his smarts, humbleness and class, there’s still quite a bit of ego with Grant. Hill still wants to be a starter and be in a primary role, so that made the move to the Clippers more sensible than going to the Lakers.

ACTION: After a career filled mostly with losses while playing for horrendously bad teams, veteran power forward Antawn Jamison signed with the Lakers.

REACTION: At long last, Jamison is on a team that actually has a fighting chance to win some games and make the playoffs. He’s spent the last two years in Cleveland where the Cavs were trying to dig out from the shock of losing LeBron James. Before that, he had played for mostly bad teams in Washington and Golden State – save for one playoff season in Dallas. Point blank, Jamison has been around more stiffs than a Juarez, Mexico mortician.

Jamison, a 14-year veteran who has made two all-star teams, has always used his unorthodox scoring methods to pour in the points for awful teams. His career 19.7-point scoring average is about as hollow as a dead tree because most of those baskets have come in lopsided losses.

Now, he’ll get a chance to be noticed by a Lakers team that has furiously tried to remake its bench this offseason. Jamison will likely have to play in a reserve role and he’ll have to make an adjustment to not being a primary option. He is a player who likes to have the ball in his hands and that could be a problem considering that most of time Lakers players have trouble prying the ball out of Kobe Bryant’s sticky fingers.

But succeed or fail, at least Jamison will finally be a part of a team that has a chance each night when he walks into the arena. It’s been a long time since he’s been able to say that, so maybe he’s already the big winner of the offseason.

ACTION: USA Basketball preps for the London Olympics by playing an exhibition in Barcelona, Spain, the site of where the original Dream Team won gold in 1992 and helped to globalize the game of basketball.

REACTION: First off, let me say that I agree with Kobe Bryant when he says that this edition of Team USA could beat the 1992 squad in ONE game. But when comparing the teams, well, there’s really no comparison. Especially with Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin off the team because of injuries, it’s not even a fair fight between the teams from 1992 and 2012. The 1992 squad led by Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing, Scottie Pippen and David Robinson and aging stars Magic Johnson and Larry Bird would have dominated this 2012 edition.

This 2012 squad is still the overwhelming favorite to win gold in London, but it’s not nearly the slam dunk as in years past. Argentina has several familiar faces in Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola and Carlos Delfino and can be dangerous. And then there’s Spain, which pushed the 2008 squad to the limit in ``The Best Basketball Game No One Ever Saw Live’’ (because it was televised at 2 a.m. from China). That Spanish team will give Team USA fits with their passing and cutting and will almost certainly face off again in the gold medal game.

Team USA is woefully thin in the middle with just Tyson Chandler as the only true center on the roster. Anthony Davis, the No. 1 overall pick of the NBA Draft, can double as a center in some settings, but he could get eaten alive by the Gasol brothers from Spain.

So over the next couple of weeks, as Team USA rolls up some big margins of victory against some weaker teams, commentators will undoubtedly bring up comparisons to the original Dream Team of ’92. Any team with Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kevin Durant is obviously a special one, but there will only be one Dream Team. And this one just isn’t it, not with it being so thin in the middle and along the front line.

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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