Dwight Howard

Takes From the Last Week in Free Agency

Takes From the Last Week in Free Agency

I haven’t had a chance to get on here and blog about some of the recent happenings in the last few days of free agency. Here are my takes on some of the most interesting developments from around the league:

  • JJ Redick, Jared Dudley to the Clippers, Eric Bledsoe, Caron Butler to the Suns, picks to Milwaukee. I love this trade for the Clippers and Suns. LA gets back two of the league’s better perimeter shooters, on good contracts, to put around Chris Paul in a new Doc Rivers/Alvin Gentry run offense. Both guys are good team defenders as well, making them both upgrades over the severely one-dimensional Jamal Crawford. Crawford’s ball handling abilities will still have value, but Redick and Dudley are both better fits (and players) next to Chris Paul. From Phoenix’s standpoint, they acquire one of the prized young assets in the league right now. Just about every team with a need at point guard was rumored to be going after Bledsoe at one point or another, but Phoenix is the team that gets him – and they didn’t give up that much. Jared Dudley is a good player, but at age 27 he’s not an ideal player for a rebuilding team. The question now for Phoenix is if they move Goran Dragic or play him and Bledsoe together. In 185 minutes last season, the Clippers were a +11.1 NET-RTG with Bledsoe and Paul on the court together, so it’s clear that Bledsoe can succeed in a 2 point guard alignment. The issue will be with Dragic, who is a much better player with the ball in his hands and who has struggled to play shooting guard in two point guard sets. Milwaukee was the loser of this trade, but not for the trade itself. Losing JJ Redick for second round picks isn’t ideal, but they were going to lose him anyways and did well to at least get minor assets for him. The problem was acquiring Redick in the first place. They parted ways with Tobias Harris, who was impressive late in the season, to get Redick for their meaningless playoff run that ended with a first round shellacking at the hands of the Miami Heat. I hated the trade then, and I don’t like it now. More

Is a Howard to Knicks Trade Even Possible?

ESPN New York’s Stephen A Smith reported yesterday on his show that the Orlando Magic inquired, the key word there, the New York Knicks about a potential Dwight Howard for Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler trade. Given the contracts of Stoudemire and Chandler, the Knicks would have to also take back a sizable contract from Orlando. The 2011 figures in this rumored trade look like this:

Amar’e Stoudemire $18,217,705 million

Tyson Chandler $13,107,838 million

Total: $31,325,543 million

Dwight Howard: $17,885,400

The new NBA collective bargaining agreement contains new rules pertaining to trades. Taxpaying teams can take back 125% of their outgoing salary plus $100,000. Non-taxpaying teams (based on team salary after the trade) have two options as to how much salary they can take back. Non-taxpaying teams can acquire up to the lesser of 150% plus $100,000 OR  100% plus $5 million. Teams can trade up to $3 million in a trade but the Knicks used up that $3 million in the Tyson Chandler sign and trade.

The Knicks sit at $62,487,871 in salary. The Orlando Magic currently sit at $69,066,010 million dollars in salary. This figure puts them slightly under the $70 million luxury tax threshold. Here are the 2011 salaries for their players, significant to this trade, minus Dwight Howard:

Hedo Turkoglu: $10,600,000 million

Jameer Nelson $7,305,555 million

JJ Redick $6,500,000 million

Glen Davis $6,300,000 million

Jason Richardson $5,395,000 million

Chris Duhon $3,460,000 million

Quentin Richardson $2,446,200 million

Ryan Anderson $2,244,600 million

Earl Clark $1,200,000 million

Excluded: Von Wafer, Daniel Orton, DeAndre Liggins, Justin Harper, Larry Hughes

Because of the cap standings of both teams, both teams being under the luxury tax threshold, the Knicks and Magic have more flexibility with a potential trade. However, the Knicks swapping $31.3 million in salary with Orlando and taking in Howards $17.8 million in salary is not possible. Under the new CBA trade guidelines, the Knicks would have to take back another salary because swapping STAT and Chandler for Howard would not work. Here are some trade scenarios as pertained to each CBA rule:

  1. The Knicks take back 100% of Orlando’s salaries plus 5 million. The Magic would have to give up $26,325,543 million or more in salary to make this scenario work. That means in addition to Howard’s salary, the Magic would have to shed an additional $8,440,143 million in salary. Any trade of Howard likely will include the long term contract (3 years remaining, $34.2 mil) of Hedo Turkoglu. Turkoglu makes 10.6 million this season thus bring Orlando’s salary price up to $28,485,400 mil. This trade will work under the new CBA rules. However, the Magic would be taking back an additional $2,840,143 million in salary. Under the 100% + 5 mil rule, the Magic would have to remain under the tax. Therfore they would have to give up another contract resulting in an excess of $1,906,153 million. In my opinion, ex-Knicks Chris Duhon (3 years remaining, approx $11 mil in salary) and Quentin Richardson (2 years remaining with an additional players option for 2013, approx 5 mil in salary, $7.8 mil with option) would be the most likely candidates to be included in a trade. I believe that the basic framework of a Turkoglu/Howard/additional contract for Stoudemire/Chandler trade is the most likely trade if one is to come to fruition.
  2. The Knicks take back 150% of Orlando’s salaries plus $100k. The Magic would have to give up a little bit more than $20.8 million in salary to make this trade work. Given the long term contracts the Magic have on their roster along with the minor rebuilding they will need to do losing their star player, I believe the Magic would want to give up more than $20.8 million in a trade. In order to use this 100% + 100k clause, the Magic would have to give up between $20.8 million and $26.325 million (from the scenario above). However, if they were to give up Turkoglu, which they should and which they want to, they would eliminate this clause from being used in the CBA. This scenario would be plausible if the Knicks were going to take back any other Orlando player not named Hedo Turkoglu in a trade. This scenario is unlikely because I truly believe the Magic are going to part ways with Turkoglu as well as Howard in any trade they make.
  3. The Knicks and Magic never have serious discussions. Per the new CBA, Tyson Chandler, a newly acquired free agent, cannot be dealt until March 1st. If Orlando is swept off its feet by the Lakers, Clippers, Mavs, Nets or a mystery team, which I do not believe it will be, then they could move Howard before the Knicks can even discuss this trade seriously.
  4. The Knicks and Magic find a 3rd team. Conceivably, just like the trades that brought Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler to New York, the Knicks could find a 3rd team to deal with. Any trade scenario involving 3 teams would have to include more parts than just Turkoglu/Howard and Stoudemire/Chandler. At this point it is impossible to predict what 3rd team could be involved because no serious talks have gone on between Orlando and New York.

In conclusion, the main idea of this long and potentially head-ache enabling blog post is that financially the Knicks could pull off a trade for Dwight Howard. The new CBA allows it and both teams have contracts to make it work. The factors that would hold up a trade go beyond the financials. Whether the Magic are fully committed to trading Howard is up in the air. It is unknown whether the Knicks would part ways with newly acquired Chandler. As well as whether to give up Chandler, there have been no indications from the organization that Dolan is ready to break his loyalty with Stoudemire. It also remains unknown as to whether Orlando would even take this kind of deal. They would be locked into two long term big contracts and two decaying Amar’e Stoudemire knees. In my opinion, I do not believe this is a trade that will ever come to fruition. I think it makes obvious sense for the Knicks but I think the financials of the situation would far outweigh the on-court benefits for the Magic. I believe Amar’e and Tyson Chandler could fit nicely with that already strong Orlando team but I do not think the two players would launch the Magic into championship contention. Either way, Chandler cannot be dealt until March 1st so the Knicks will have their current center for at least 6 more weeks before they go chasing after another team’s star center. A lot can change in six weeks but if I had to bet a hypothetical house (seeming that I don’t own a house) on whether this trade would happen, I would bet against it.

[twitter-follow screen_name='tarmosino' show_screen_name='no']

The Dwight Howard Versus Chris Paul Debate

Today Dwight Howard announced he won’t be signing a contract extension before the July 1 deadline.. With Howard officially putting Orlando in the clock, the Knicks now must decide whether to go after him or New Orleans point guard Chris Paul III. Both are elite players in the NBA and both are free agents after next season barring any extensions being signed. So the debate begins, who should the Knicks go after? Howard or Paul?

Money: Anybody who says the Knicks don’t have the money to get another superstar doesn’t know what they are talking about. As can be found in the useful links section of this site, the Knicks salary situation for the 2012 season leaves them 17 million dollars  to spend under the current salary cap. Now it is probable that the cap will be lowered from the current 58 million dollar cap but with a lower cap will come a lower max contract. In short, it’s very possible for Melo and Amare to drop a couple mil a season to contribute to a 3rd superstar and we will still fit under the cap.

On the court: I believe if given the opportunity to acquire one of these 2 players, there is absolutely no way the Knicks can lose. Chris Paul looked re-energized from his injury in the postseason and looks to build on his strong finish, and when he’s healthy he is one of the top 3 point guards in this league. Dwight Howard is far and away the best center in this league. The sexier pick is Chris Paul, and granted I’d love to see him become a Knick, but if given their pick, I believe the Knicks should sign Dwight Howard. First Howard is 26 and has been injury free while Paul is 26 but has had knee problems and a concussion. The deciding factor for me is how Howard is the best defensive player in today’s NBA. The reigning 3 time NBA defensive player of the year eliminates any inside game an opponent throws towards him. With Melo and Amare’s notoriously lazy defense, Howard would eliminate a lot of defensive deficiencies, especially when it comes to rebounding. On offense, his low post presence would open everything up for Melo and Amare, especially down low. Who on that offense would you double team? It wouldn’t be possible to defend us. As much as I love Chris Paul and he is a great point guard, nobody doubles point guards. Nobody wants to see Paul in a Knicks uniform more than I do, but from a purely basketball standpoint Howard makes more sense for this team. Not only does Howard give the Knicks the center presence we sorely need but he makes everybody else better. He’ll open up the wings for Melo, Toney Douglas, Billups if he’s still around, Fields and the other guys to knock down open 3s. He’ll take double teams off of Amare and Melo and give them more room to operate. We won’t be out rebounded by anybody if we get Howard, he’ll control the glass and allow our defense to cut back on giving up 2nd chance points. While Paul would make us an even better offensive team and provide the ball movement and assists that make offenses go, I believe you can find quality point guards way more easily then you can a dominant center. In today’s era where Howard is far and away the best center with no center even in the same stratosphere, you take the center whenever you can get him.

Conclusion: Go back and look at the great Knick teams of the 90′s, they had Ewing and Starks and a bunch of really good defensive players. Starks was a great player but nowhere on the level of Melo or Amare. If Ewing and a bunch of solid role guys competed against the great Bulls teams, imagine what our big 3 with Dwight could do. Also look at the matchups we’d have against Miami, the team that’s gonna stand between the Knicks and future championships. Miami lacks a great center, I mean Joel Anthony vs Dwight Howard. It’s no contest. Miami’s best offensive game is when they drive and dominate the paint. With the 6’11, 3 time defensive player of the year standing in the paint there is no way Miami would dominate the paint in a 7 game series. With D’antoni’s 7 seconds or less offense making the transition to a halfcourt game, Howard’s post up style of offense would be a great fit. If you look at the Bulls dynasty or this last Laker dynasty, Ron Harper and Derek Fisher were the point guards. Yes they were good point guards but not elite. It’s different for all teams but the past has shown that you can win NBA championships with solid veteran point guards. Its not everyday that Dwight Howard comes walking by, the Knicks would be foolish not to pounce on him in the summer of 2012.

[twitter-follow screen_name='tarmosino' show_screen_name='no']