In the next 24 hours, one of two things will be true. Dwight Howard will be a Net and the Mavs hopes for next offseason will have failed before they got the chance to start. Or, Dwight Howard will still be a Magic, (a Magic?) or get traded to a different team altogether, and we’ll all get to start hoping in earnest.
Unfortunately, the former is becoming more likely by the minute.
Breaking: Dwight has apparently told teammates, though not yet management, that he will opt-in to the next year of his contract with the Magic. Whether or not that will happen remains to be seen. Pundits seem a little too surprised by this--because of how he's mismanaged things to date, if he really doesn't want to get traded, and wants the chance to be a free agent, more or less the only way is to give the Magic something.
Breaking again: Apparently Dwight has changed his mind and will NOT be signing that option sheet. He called Orlando and said his first option is staying with them but he won't forfeit free agency. Odds are good that, 1) this is because his current agent is different from the agent with which he signed his first deal, so that agent won't make as much cash if he doesn't become a free agent and, 2) it's about 50-50 between whether the Magic can get a good enough deal by 3 pm, which is the only thing that would keep Dwight in Orlando at this point.
Why is Dwight going to get traded? Here’s the thing, the sort of shocking thing, about this Dwight business: he’s handling it worse than LeBron did. Yes, it was the callousnes of LeBron breaking up with his devoted fan base via gameshow that made his exit so shocking. Still:
Here’s Dwight Howard, basically:
"I need you guys to trade me to the one team I want to play for, like they did for Carmelo, savvy? Oh, we’re not doing that anymore? Okay, here’s my list of teams I’ll sign a deal with, that I'm going to make as public as possible, so you can either get nothing from a team that will only have me as a rental, trade me where I want and maybe get something, or lose me for nothing."
*Someone hands Dwight a piece of paper indicating what those teams would have to give up to sign him.*
"Oh hey, listen, don’t trade me. Please. I totally want to be here for this year. Exactly this year though, I’m not like. You know, I’m not going to stay or anything. But don’t trade me so I don’t have to go to a team that gave anything up to get me, okay?"
"I thought you threatened us that if we didn’t trade you where you wanted, you’d leave us with nothing."
"Oh, thank god you said that. Yes, exactly, that’s what I want, I would like to leave you with nothing so I don’t have to go anywhere that’s not great. Cool?"
*Someone hands Dwight a sheet of paper*
"Oh, I would also like to be able to make all personnel decisions. It’s pretty ridiculous that I, a 26 year old who’s never won a championship, don’t get to do that."
What this means is, the odds that the Magic are going to trade Dwight just went up a lot, because the Magic ownership finally got mad back. Once you do that, there’s not much of a happy ending possible.
Here’s the thing, my young friends. I am not a mathematician. Everything I’m going to say, I’ve stolen from www.dallasbasketball.com. But this is it: the salary cap each year is dependent on the amount of money basketball makes and it’s a percentage of that number. The NBA is figuring next year’s salary cap by extrapolating the numbers for this 66 game season over 82 games.
What this means is that next year’s salary cap is relatively likely to be the highest on record because, get this, ALMOST NOBODY WATCHES BASKETBALL BEFORE CHRISTMAS ANYWAY. The NBA still got Christmas day. It still got its All-Star game. It even got, and this is surprisingly important, Jeremy Lin, which meant a lot of interest both in the huge New York market and the huger China market.
What THIS means is that next year represents a unique opportunity for teams with cap space, which is why the Mavs have that now.
But it doesn’t matter if it’s a unique opportunity if there’s nobody to sign. More importantly, because of the various rights that teams have to sign their own players, no matter how close the Mavericks can actually get to the max for both Deron and Dwight—and it’s closer than most people think—New Jersey will be able to offer more. And since they won’t be New Jersey, but Brooklyn, they can also offer Brooklyn.
This doesn’t mean the Mavs are a hundred percent out of it, even if he goes to New Jersey. The Mavs can still offer cash AND Dirk. But it’s not like the Nets won’t also have insane cap space left over, and it’s not like somebody else good isn’t going to want to play with Dwight and Deron. Smart money says, if he goes to New Jersey, he’s gone.
So I guarantee you that right now Mark Cuban is calling up other teams and letting the Magic know he’ll take on Hedo’s contract, trying to get the best deal possible even if means no Deron Williams. But there are going to be better deals out there. The Nets aren’t going to haggle all that much.
So, ultimately, I'm not sure what to tell you. Maybe, cross your fingers and hope the Magic like Bynum, and maybe Gasol better?
Maybe? I mean, that's not good news for the Mavs hopes this year, or anything.....