July 12, 2012 by McDowski
The Dwight Howard circus continues.
After holding his franchise and fan-base hostage for most of the 2011/12 season with his trade demands (which, in true confused Dwight manner, he kept going back and forth on), it looks like this ‘superstar’ is not done yet. The season was barely over when Howard reiterated his previously rescinded trade demand by demanding (again) that the Magic trade him. Not only that, but Howard had even let it be known that the Brooklyn Nets were the only team he wanted to go to.
Well, it looks like that will not happen. So the Magic thought they’d try to convince Howard to stay and give the new front-office management a chance to build a contender around him. Not interested, says Howard. Even when team president Alex Martins asked him, Howard reportedly answered, “I already heard that from the other guy on the phone.”
So Magic fans need to accept it – Howard is gone. But that doesn’t mean they should cave in completely. Howard critics – like myself – take some solace in the fact that his number 1 option is off the table. But I would argue that the last thing the Magic should do is create a sign-and-trade for Howard.
I always hated that strategy in situations like this. The biggest chip that the incumbent team holds is the fact that they can offer significantly more money to a free agent than a new team. That rule was created by the NBA (rightly so, I think) to discourage players bailing out on franchises. But when a team agrees to a sign-and-trade with their unhappy superstar, they essentially give the player the best of both worlds. He gets to leave your team and play for the franchise that he wants to, and he still gets the max deal eligible because the contract was officially signed by the incumbents.
Why do that? Why do such a favor for your multi-millionaire primadonna? Screw that. Stand up for yourselves, GMs. Tell your superstar, “Hey, you wanna leave? Fine. Leave. But leave knowing that you’re leaving $20-25 million on the table, because we sure as hell aren’t doing a sign-and-trade. Put that in your sneakers and smoke it!”
In that regard, I agree completely with Laker legend and GM extraordinaire Jerry West, who advocated a few months ago that teams should not fall for it. “I honestly think I’d call their bluff,” West said. “I really would, because I don’t think any agent or player is going to leave $30 million on the table. I just don’t believe that’s going to happen.”
Neither do I.