With the way Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic ended this year, it's clear that something's broken in Orlando. The Magic have more than $60 million tied up in Hedo Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas for the next two years, and Jameer Nelson's not going anywhere, either.
For Orlando, there's no easy solution on the horizon. For Dwight Howard, though, the equation's a lot more simple. He could opt out of his contract, and sign as a free agent next summer. Or, the more likely scenario--he could talk loudly about wanting out of Orlando, and force the Magic to trade him to the team of his choice, or risk losing him for nothing. Carmelo Part Deux, basically.
And hey, aren't you excited for a whole summer of this?! Here let me give you a preview of what's to come.... 1. Sources close to Howard indicate that the Magic superstar is seriously weighing his options. 2. A league source says that a deal could down this summer. 3. An agent that asked not to be named said that the Lakers are interested. 4. A person close to the Orlando Magic front office tells Rachel Nichols that Orlando would want Pau Gasol AND Andrew Bynum in any potential trade for Howard.
5. Could the Lakers work through back channels to include a third team?
6. Maybe, but now, another source says that Howard's leaning toward staying, after all. 7. Is it a ploy to drive up the asking price from the Lakers, or does Dwight Howard really believe he can win a title with the Magic? Who can say. 8. Err... Actually, another source can say, and did, when he told ESPN that Howard still wants out, contradicting his earlier report. WHO KNOWS?
Meanwhile, Dwight, himself, really did take to Twitter to clarify things Monday night, and this was probably more ridiculous and satirical than any of our fake reports:
Y does it seem like the writers of Orlando sentinel are tryna push me out of Orlando with dumb articles. It's annoying. Can I enjoy my summer and get ready for next season in Orlando. Pls. Same thing u guys did to Shaq. Smh
This will be like the Carmelo Saga and LeBron's decision combined, and it's even worse because everyone knows it's coming. So this is my way of bowing out early, and hoping for as little Dwight Howard coverage as possible. You want to know where Dwight Howard's going to play in 2012?
986. Dwight Howard will get traded to L.A., probably.
But between then and now, it will be an avalanche of unsourced rumors and empty media speculation the likes of which we haven't seen since... Well, last Februrary. This is why the NBA needs a new collective bargaining agreement. And that's probably the greatest testament of all to how annoying this stuff gets--I'd actually rather make a point about the lockout than seriously discuss Dwight Howard's inevitable move to L.A.
That tweet was ridiculous, though. Media's pushing you away, Dwight? Mmm-hmm...
Onto more Talking Points...
The Twilight Of Kobe's Career Is Here. As Bruce Arthur writes at Toronto's National Post, this year's exit from the playoffs was the beginning of the end for Kobe. This is true:
Kobe is 32 but has played almost 50,000 minutes, playoffs included. He was draining his right knee through the 2010 playoffs, and he sat out practices throughout the season to save it, along with his troublesome left ankle. His right index finger is an arthritic mess, which required the reinvention of his shooting form in mid-stride. ... He is still great. But it is becoming apparent that Kobe is like tennis’s Roger Federer — he looks the same, plays much the same, but it’s not all there anymore.
And it's hard to process for NBA fans of a certain age (read: me). Kobe's never been my favorite player, but he's been a constant force in the NBA since I was 12 years old. Watching this come to an end will be weird, and really, it's already happening. But if nothing else, I'm glad his playoff exit gave us this next story.
My Favorite Story Of The Playoffs. Armenians are PISSED. To wit, the last sentence of the excerpt from this surreal story might be my favorite thing that anyone's written about the NBA Playoffs so far:
This winter, Bryant alienated a large segment of the Lakers’ fan base, members of California’s large Diaspora Armenian community, with a decision to endorse Turkish Airlines.
Now, some hope Bryant will use the off-season to make amends. When the season started, many experts believed Bryant and his teammates would be playing the Miami Heat in June for the NBA championship. Now, he can only expect to get more heat from diaspora Armenians.
GET READY FOR A DIFFERENT KIND OF HEAT, KOBE. ARMENIAN HEAT.
Now that Bryant doesn’t have to concentrate on basketball again until the fall, diaspora community leaders hope the supremely talented guard will have time to reflect on his endorsement choice. “My hope is that he'll show his fans that in selling his brand, that he has not sold his soul, and he can do that by speaking openly and honestly about the Armenian Genocide,” ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian told EurasiaNet.org.
Hold up: Does that Armenian fella really think Kobe hasn't already sold his soul? I thought that was a given at this point. Anyway, I know we shouldn't joke about Genocide, so we won't. But Kobe Bryant unwittingly becoming tied to a war over genocide? That's pretty amazing. If this is how he's going to ride into the sunset, I'm pretty psyched to see what comes next.
Sean Avery Supports Gay Rights, Some NHL Agents Don't, For Some Reason. SBN's Travis Hughes weighs in with the appropriate response here, but regardless of players' politics, can we all agree that any agent stupid enough to openly oppose gay marriage on Twitter is probably not an agent you want handling your pro hockey career? Just a thought, NHL players.
Kendrick Perkins Knows How To Work The Refs. ESPN's John Hollinger was tweeting courtside at Monday's epic battle between the Grizzlies and Thunder, and provided some delightful nuggets. Like this one, which didn't make it into his game story, but resonates regardless:
This is A) a perfect example of why Twitter can be pretty great and B) Maybe my favorite technical foul of all time. Kendrick Perkins is basically an overgrown 13 year-old.
REF: "That's against the rules, Kendrick."
PERK: "Who says?!"
REF: "Uhhhh.... The rulebook."
PERK: "Well the rulebook's STUPID."
One More Note About Westbrook And Durant. I wrote about it over here, but from Tom Scharpling at GQ, this essay breaks down the OKC conundrum pretty nicely:
Westbrook needs to wrap his head around the team concept sooner than later for a few reasons. The first being that any squad with him and Durant playing at their best is automatically one of the best in the game. But the biggest might be that while there is only one Durant—a frighteningly multi-dimensional player who can wreak havoc at just about any spot on the floor and from whom we have yet to see at his very best!—there are always a few guys like Westbrook kicking around. And those flashy point guards get traded when it's time to actually win—just ask Jason Williams.
A Miniature Airport, For Some Reason. Via JE Skeets comes this story about a Miniature Airport in Germany. "Spread over an area of 150 square meters, Knuffingen Airport features 40 different airplanes that take off and land up to 360 times each day. More than 150,000 working hours and 3.5 million Euro have been invested in this amazing project. The airport is now open to the public."
More proof: The more time you spend on the internet, the less the world makes sense.
A Sweet New Shirt For All You MMA Fans Out There. From the Onion:
Mixed martial artist Phillipe Nover announced design plans Thursday for a new T-shirt that he claimed would be completely covered in hundreds of dumbshit fighting terms and stupid fucking tribal patterns. "This shirt will feature a rambling assortment of worthless violent images and words, like 'grapple' and 'slam,' all thrown together in the most unappealing colors possible," said Nover, adding that graphics would include spray-painted angel wings, laughing skulls wearing crowns, random splatter marks...
Finally, Does Kobe Bryant Support Genocide? Just wondering...