Almost two years ago to this day, Lebron James told the world that he would be joining the Miami Heat after a long and controversial free agency. Lebron James emerged as a villain and suffered the consequences of becoming one of the most disliked players in the NBA. Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic, who is currently in the midst of an intense recruitment process, has taken a much different path. This Friday, Howard told Magic general manager Rob Hennigan that he wants to be traded to the newly relocated Brooklyn Nets – again.
The New Jersey Nets have not seen any serious success in the past several years; a serious change was necessary for the team’s survival. This change came on October 24th, 2011, when the prominent owner of the then New Jersey Nets, Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter announced the move to Brooklyn. team hopes the move will spike a new fan base that will combine with the “old” fan base. The Nets ranked dead last in attendance at games last season with a mere average of 13,961 people per game. This was even more alarming when the Net’s neighbors, The New York Knicks, ranked 5th in the NBA with an average of 19,763 people per game. Clearly, the Nets fan base was neither large enough nor consistent enough to sustain a profitable organization. Bringing Brooklyn its first official sports team since the Brooklyn Dodgers could bring attendance levels up, as well as profits, to help get the organization back on financial track.
In February of 2011, the Nets traded for All-Star point guard Deron Williams. Williams put up excellent numbers in the 2011-2012 season (21 points/ 9 assists/3 rebounds). However, the Nets record did not reflect his spectacular performances, ending up in last place in the Atlantic Conference with a record of 22-44. The dynamics of the team were simply not working.
Now, the Nets find themselves in a crucial and fragile situation. The Nets are going after their very own “big three,” in the form of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Dwight Howard. This is a difficult task, not only to land all three players, but also to put all your eggs in that basket, hoping that the players work well together. What the Nets should also be focusing on is recruiting fans. It does not matter who is on the court if no one is there to watch them. This is a crucial time, not just because of the free agency and trade talks, but also the task of bringing together a large enough fan base to support the team.
Dwight Howard has already made his position clear, as reported by Yahoo Sports, saying, “There’s only one team on my list and if I don’t get traded there, I’ll play the season out and explore my free agency after that.” This puts Brooklyn in a precarious situation. Either they give up several of their core players for the six-time all-star or they will take the gamble of waiting until free agency and risk the possibility of Howard signing with another team.
This is a similar position that the Knicks were in two seasons ago with Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks took the path of giving up most of their starting lineup for Anthony and point guard Chauncey Billups, who is no longer with the team. The Knicks have seen better results, but not the type of results that were anticipated. In hindsight, the Knicks might have gone about the situation differently and possibly waited until Anthony was a free agent, keeping their solid core players to expand off of.
The Brooklyn Nets should be taking this into serious consideration.
The Dwight Howard sweepstakes is a complicated one. It is much different from Lebron James’s free agency in the sense that Howard is not a free agent yet, and that he only has one team on his list, compared to James’ six. On March 15th, Howard opted-in for the final year of his contract; since then he has logged a formal complaint about the Magic organization to the NBA Players Association that if legal action takes place, could cause Howard to begin his free agency this summer. This would help the Nets because locking up Howard as quickly as possible would increase the chances of not only keeping Deron Williams, but also possibly bringing in Atlanta Hawks sharpshooter Joe Johnson or other free agents, while maintaining their core.
To summarize, Dwight Howard only wants to go to the Brooklyn Nets via trade this off-season, or then possibly through free agency after next season (pending the Players Association action). Williams will be meeting in New York with the Dallas Mavericks today and then the Brooklyn Nets tonight. The Nets are also reported to be in talks with shooting guard Joe Johnson. The Nets have some serious financial concerns with the trade. Also, the Nets have just signed a 4-year – $40 million contract with current forward Gerald Wallace.
In all, Brooklyn Nets fans have a lot to be excited about, as this could be a very rewarding off-season for the new team with a promising future.