As hard as it was to stomach in the moment, it's not the worst thing in the world that Dwight Howard chose the Houston Rockets over, among others, the Dallas Mavericks. Howard has shown no propensity the past two years for being the person he was in his heyday in Orlando.
Forget the player he was. His numbers in Los Angeles last season suggest he still has talent.
But the sideshow has to stop. That was the biggest debit against Howard in the free agency process — will the “Dwightmare” end once he finds a new home? The Rockets had to gamble. They haven’t won a title in nearly two decades and they have a great young player in James Harden, whom they practically stole from Oklahoma City last year.
Pairing Howard and Harden for five years might put the Rockets on a path to the NBA Finals. But it might come at a cost.
The inmates run the asylum in the NBA these days.
It’s entirely possible that in two years the Rockets will be a contender, or they’ll have a new Howard-approved coach and a new Howard-approved roster as they struggle to find a supporting cast.
The inmates run the asylum in the NBA these days. Unlike Los Angeles, if something isn’t to his liking he’ll get his way.
The Mavs are two years removed from a championship. One would surmise there’s still some bloom on that rose and that fans might be more patient, except … The Mavs’ plan to “keep their powder dry” after winning that 2011 NBA Championship and use their cap space to go after big-name free agents has been an abysmal failure.
Deron Williams took a pass. So did Howard. Paul didn’t even test free agency. He had too good a thing with the Los Angeles Clippers.
The one thing that the Rockets had that the Mavericks didn’t was a young star. Harden will be an All-Star for years to come. The NBA loves Dirk Nowitzki as much as we do, but we all know there’s a shelf life attached to him now that he’s in his mid-30s.
The Mavs don’t have a young star or two to entice big name free agents. Who’s to blame for that?
Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson, for starters.
This Mavericks braintrust, while certainly some of the smartest guys in the NBA, has done a horrible job of developing talent through the draft. It’s the biggest reason they are so compelled to spend money in free agency. They’re seeking a quick fix to remain competitive as opposed to taking a step back, assessing their future and finding ways to build through the draft.
It’s why the Mavs just committed $28 million over four years to Jose Calderon, a point guard who is entering his early 30s. They don’t have a young, playmaking point guard. The best point guard they’ve had in the past 20 years was just named the head coach in Brooklyn. That’s Jason Kidd.
What the Mavs have is Nowitzki, Shawn Marion and a bunch of guys, some young and serviceable, some older and on the back end of their career. And it doesn’t stand to get much better in the future.
I think the Mavs dodged a bullet in Howard not choosing them. But the chamber that is the future of this franchise is still plenty full.