So the Lakers have been having a rough year. (Look at that points allowed ranking. Yikes.) To recap: during the off season, the Lakers seemed to have delivered another Gasol-ian coup by signing Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. But then this super team stumbled through a winless preseason and fell flat on their faces once the games started to actually count. The pall over coach Mike Brown loomed large and no amount of players letting themselves be coached by him was going to prevent Brown’s departure. Then Mike D’Antoni came on board (a decision supported by this purveyor of sports opinion and fart noises) and things stayed pretty much the same. True, Nash was out with a knee injury during much of this time. But the issue with the Lakers wasn’t offense, Nash’s area of expertise. Look at that points allowed ranking again. Twenty-fifth in the League. Defense is the issue.
One might think this strange, on a team with three-time Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard. True, as with Nash, Howard has been dealing with injuries: the after effects of back surgery, and more recently, an on-going shoulder problem. But in watching these Laker games, I don’t buy those injuries being the main variables explaining Howard’s disastrously poor play and failure to imbue this team with anything resembling defensive prowess. Rather, I think Dwight thinks of himself as a peer with Kobe Bryant and his entitled desire for touches has both screwed up the Lakers’ offense and his pouting over not getting what he feels are enough touches has screwed up the Lakers’ defense. For whatever reason, Dwight looks at film like this:
And says to himself, “I don’t know about you, but I think that kid should be the first option on offense, especially on a team with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. Just look how awkward and graceless those moves are. Get me more of that!” Its total nonsense and its killing the Lakers.
Now the Lakers could try to work with Dwight and help him come to understand “roles” on “teams,” but I think that’s a waste of time. This is a guy with absolutely no self awareness. This is the guy whose free throw percentage has decreased every year he’s been in the League. (Did you know he shot 67% as a rookie?) He’s a head case and should be put in a rocket and shot into the center of the sun. Barring testing coming back on the feasibility of that plan, the Lakers’ best option is a trade. And who better to take advantage of that the New York Knicks? Now I realize the Knicks have been having a string of good luck recently. But let’s be honest about who we’re dealing with here. The Knicks are still playing footsie with Isiah Thomas; they’re only one insane decision from returning normalcy to Yahoo! Answers message boards the internet over. Here is that insane decision:
Dwight Howard for Tyson Chandler, Steve Novak, and Iman Shumpert.
First off, let’s cross the bridge of the NBA’s Byzantine trade rules: ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine pronounces the trade successful. Hollinger does knock the Knicks two games for pulling the trigger, but hey, its Dwight Howard. He’s good, right? Any time you can turn an undersized big whitey shooter, injured Iman Shumpert, and Tyson Chander into a three time Defensive Player of the Year IN HIS PRIME you do it. Right? Right???
And this is where the Knicks fall prey to the same siren song that drowned the Lakers, and much of the rest of the League last summer. Tyson Chandler is exactly the inside presence the Lakers had hoped to get from Howard. Chandler is about put backs and alley oops, getting rebounds, and winning basketball games. Novak can shoot and stretch the floor in a way that will immediately help Kobe and Nash, plus his being slow is less of a liability because the guy is 6’10”! Just have him play three point line to three point line. And Shumpert helps the Lakers get younger. He’ll have the opportunity to learn from Kobe and play a role on the second unit. And if he has the foresight that Dwight lacks, he can polish his game to potentially become a big part of the Lakers’ future, post-Kobe.
The Kincks, well, I think a Knicks team with Howard and Amar’e Stoudemire ends in a slap fight with both guys out for the year. Which, let’s be honest, is a best case scenario. Short of putting Dwight in a rocket and shooting him into the center of the sun.