Dwight departs, will not be missed

Waffling Dwight Howard finally made up his mind: he will leave the Lakers to sign with the Houston Rockets.

Image

Houston offers numerous benefits: desirable city, no state tax, a young and uncluttered roster, a budding young superstar in James Harden, a coach who knows a thing or two about post play, and, perhaps most importantly, the chance to be the top dog without facing the media scrutiny and pressure to win that comes with being a Laker.

Alas, Dwight and the Lakers were never a good match. We all thought it would work just fine: Howard transforming LA’s defense, feasting on alley-oop lobs from Kobe, and forming the most formidable pick-and-roll partnership in the league with Steve Nash. When I spoke with Bill Simmons at the Olympics, we agreed that the Lakers were now overwhelming favorites to win the Western Conference. We were wrong.

In reality, Dwight proved to be an epic bust for health reasons both physical and mental. Coming off back surgery, his athleticism was not the same; he was not contesting shots and anchoring the defense the same way he had in Orlando and he lacked a second jump on offensive rebounds. Meanwhile he insisted on being used as a straight post-up player rather than a pick-and-roll finisher, eschewing his biggest strength on offense.

Lakers fans will not miss his childish antics or his passive-aggressive selfishness. They won’t miss his waving stat sheets in reporters’ faces, his smiling and giggling on the bench during tough losses, his ejections from playoff games, his undermining of the coaching staff. Howard’s confounding combination of a general lack of seriousness and a self-centered woe-is-me moodiness has made even Kobe’s socially retarded personality seem palatable to many long-time fans.

The Lakers’ 2012/13 season, in the words of Kevin Ding, was undermined chiefly by Howard’s “unwillingness to move beyond his own interests.” It was a taxing season for fans who had entered it with the same expectations as myself and Simmons. They won’t miss him, or the endless spandex covering up some combination of his shoulders, elbows and legs; “he looks disabled,” friend of the blog Rory Burnand memorably noted. 

 They won’t miss him demanding to receive more post touches so that he can do things like this:

They won’t miss him shooting airballs from three feet:

They won’t miss him passing the ball to opposing players out of double teams:

They won’t miss him committing moronic offensive goal-tending violations:

They won’t miss him stepping over the line before making an inbounds pass:

Evidently, this is a man with immense physical gifts but startlingly low basketball intelligence and a dithering, diva-ish personality that we have become all too familiar with in the past two years. This is a man who, in nine NBA seasons, has yet to develop a reliable post move or the ability to make consistently decent passes out of double teams. A man whose “go-to” jumphook displays the touch of a rapist. A man who cannot be given the ball late in close games due to his inability to shoot foul shots. A man who may very well have peaked three seasons ago at age 25.

In a LakersGround.net poll leading up to the decision, nearly two thirds of respondents stated they would rather acquire Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut in a sign-and-trade with the Warriors than commit five years and $118 million to Howard. Amongst fan responses when news of Dwight’s decision broke: “We dodged a bullet here” … “Good riddance, you cancerous disease” … “Paint your face, you clown” … “I’m just glad the Dwightmare is over” … and, of course, “Houston, you’ve got a problem.”

Dwight should rediscover his happiness in Texas. Lakers fans may have rediscovered a smidgen of theirs now that he has departed, but their franchise remains in a royal mess. What now for the purple and gold? And what to make of this bumbling front office which, despite arguably dodging a bullet in losing Howard, also lost a valued asset for nothing in return? In the coming weeks we will look in great detail at their recent failures and consider their prospects going forward (hint: they’re probably not very good).

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “Dwight departs, will not be missed

  1. Funny factoid – When Lamar dribbled the ball inbounds back in 2007 it was also against New Orleans. Something about that team must bring out the dingbat in these guys.

      • It depends on how many games Kobe misses to start the season and how many games Nash is able to play. If they’re able to add Odom or Brand to the roster and everything goes well on the injury front then I think they could easily win 50 games, but if Kobe misses significant time and Nash is in and out of the lineup like he was last year they could just as easily lose 50.

  2. I understand why Lakers fans are happy to see him go, but I honestly think that Dwight did get a lot of bad press at the Staples Centre, he led the NBA in rebounds whilst playing injured for the majority of the season.

    He may not have been a perfect fit for LA but I wouldn’t say he was a Cancer on the Lakers by any means. Dont forget that he averaged 17.1 ppg, 2.5 bpg and shot at nearly 58% (i know these stats arent top of the line but by no means was he completely void of production). Clearly this is the best move for both parties involved and although I agree that Dwight has been very childish, it wouldn’t surprise me if he has a return to form and plays well in the Rockets setup.

    In all honesty I think the Lakers have used Howard as a bit of a scape goat because of their awful season, the Lakers could have pointed the finger at many parts of the team; D’Antoni hasn’t done any good for them imo, Pau didn’t play as well as he could have, they had multiple injuries to key players (Nash, Kobe etc.), but Howard is seemingly being blamed for everything when clearly other factors have helped force the Lakers down this spiral.

    The Lakers won’t win another Championship until they have a complete overhaul in my opinion, they won’t be able to top the likes of Golden State, Oklahoma, Houston and the Clippers in the West, let alone beat Miami in the finals if Lebron guides them there again.

    • Not sure he’s been used as a scapegoat. Everyone from Kobe to D’Antoni to the front office has received criticism, and will continue to do so given the current Laker debacle (though this article of course was focused on Dwight). LA was a bad situation for Dwight, and he did everything to make it worse. His behavior has been cancerous for two years (selling out his teammates in Orlando, getting SVG fired and trying to get MDA fired, mocking Kobe behind his back).

      Agreed though that he will likely be more productive in Houston. Like I said, he should rediscover his happiness there. And happiness is absolutely key to his level of production. However, it remains to be seen what his ceiling is now, and whether he will ever return to his ’09-’11 peak. The back surgery has taken a toll on his athleticism, as will his age/odometer. Given his weaknesses and the cap implications of his contract, I can’t ever see him winning a title.

      • I think the blame for this fiasco will vary depending on who you talk to. The local media may put it on Dwight, but amongst the fans I think the consensus is that Dan Tony is to blame for the lost season.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s