It was confirmed today by ESPN.com that the Houston Rockets are exploring scenarios that would bring them either Dwight Howard directly from Orlando or Andrew Bynum as compensation for their role in facilitating a deal. Either acquisition would be a giant step for the franchise.
As several prominent national sources opined, talks with Brooklyn are in critical condition – any deal would be contingent upon a S&T of Brook Lopez; any acceptance by Lopez elsewhere of an offer sheet would take him out of play until December.
From the start, it made little to no sense that Orlando would accept Brooklyn’s rumored package. I personally would actually pay money to not have Brook Lopez on my books at max dollars than to have him tying up that amount. The latter scenario, which in a deal with Orlando would have been the Magic’s return for the league’s best center, is a recipe for mediocrity. My suspicion is that word of those talks were leaked to drive up the price for competing bidders.
While hard to believe, the Rockets seem to be in a good spot. With time dwindling and few suitors remaining, Houston can stand firm with their offer. Howard will have to be moved eventually. Had they acted on draft night, they might have had to pay far more. Now, it would seem that the price has likely come down.
We’ve discussed the merits of a Howard acquisition. He is still the top choice, even without an extension. But Bynum in his own right would be, if not the grand slam of DH12, a homerun move for the franchise. Andrew Bynum is not Dwight Howard nor is he a superstar. But he’s undoubtedly the best offensive center in basketball and a true cornerstone piece. At still just 24, he’s young enough to fit in with the current youth movement underway and mature as its leader. And, according to reports, he actually might want to be here!
I’ve raved in past seasons of Bynum’s remarkable length, a quality which allows him to almost, what seems like, just reach over the basket and place the ball in. Already close to unguardable in single coverage, the thought of Bynum after daily workouts with Kevin McHale is a scary one. Regardless of your opinion of the latter as a coach, his results as a mentor-trainer (see: Love/Garnett, Kevin) speak for themselves.
Lack of mean streak is not an issue with Bynum – too much is the problem. He has his warts in the form of maturity issues. But I believe after playing in Kobe Bryant’s shadow, he would embrace the role as this team’s savior. The Rockets, in negotiations, would tell him, “we want to feed you in the post all night every night until the buffet line closes.” After so many second halves last year serving as just a decoy, that has to be enticing, especially when coming from one of the game’s 50 greatest.
I think you can win a title with Bynum as your best player. Not in the classic sense of him playing the alpha dog role with secondary support, but in the Dallas sense with Bynum as your main threat but also having numerous other weapons. And as we know, acquiring those other weapons comes easy for Daryl Morey.
I envision a lineup of Bynum with Motiejunas at the 4-5, and Chandler Parsons at the ’3′. A big, tall lineup. One of the rookies would develop into one of the other swing spots and with time, just like Kyle Lowry was acquired, and then Goran Dragic, a point guard would be acquired. At Bynum’s age, you’d have time. Losing Dragic for nothing hurts, but the loss of his cap hold might help make this all possible.
Dwight Howard is still the prize and getting Bynum won’t make this a playoff team next season. But trading for the Lakers star would be a huge coup for this organization and a major step in the right direction.