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The Daily Blast – April 5, 2013

The Dwilight Zone – As the regular season winds down, it’s time for more speculation on where Dwight Howard will go next season. Chris Broussard (ESPN Insider) breaks down the pros and cons of three potential landing spots: Houston, Dallas and Atlanta. After stating that he wouldn’t blame Howard for leaving L.A. (I know, that’s big-market media heresy), he suggests Houston as the best suitor, comparing the team to an upgraded version of the 2009 Magic:

Harden has all the playmaking skills of Hedo Turkoglu, and Parsons can stretch the floor like Rashard Lewis. Plus, in Harden, the Rockets would have something the Magic did not: a legitimate second superstar. And with Howard, Houston would be free to trade double-double center Omer Asik, who would bring back a nice haul in a trade. Off the court, Houston not only meets the big-market specifications Howard has, but with its connection to Lin and Yao Ming, Howard’s already-high popularity in China would only improve.

But wait, there’s a problem:

Cons: It’s been widely stated that Houston will be able to offer Howard a max contract, but according to salary-cap guru Larry Coon, that is not the case. Even by releasing their seven players with non-guaranteed contracts for next season, the Rockets can’t max out Howard.

While he will be eligible to make $20,513,178 next season, the most Houston will be able to offer him is between $16.7-18.2 million, according to Coon.

So that’s a bummer. If Howard was leaving any market other than L.A., I would argue that he’d make up the difference in endorsements. Of course, if a team led by Superman, Linsanity and the Beard were to win a championship, the marketing potential would be David Stern’s wet dream come true.

Harden Week – ICYMI, Hickory-High has dedicated the week to James Harden. Yesterday, Dan Lewis dissected some of Harden’s most memorable plays, including this one from the recent win over the Spurs:

Kawhi Leonard had missed a three point jumper with 21 seconds remaining, and the Rockets called timeout with nine seconds left down by one point, 95-94 to the Spurs.

Of course the ball is going to Harden. The shooting guard had 18 of his 27 points in the second half, and the next points were going to come either from Harden or a tip-in after he missed.

McHale sends out Beverly, Delfino, Asik, Parsons and Harden for the final shot. Popovich counters with Ginobili, Green, Parker, Duncan and Leonard, all savvy athletic defenders.

Harden inbounds the ball to Asik, who catches the lob facing the benches while straddling the three point line. Beverly and Parsons fade to the corner behind the three point line, and Delfino sets his feet in the opposite corner as Harden runs to receive the ball on a hand-0ff from Asik.

Harden is faced by Duncan, who is not an easy player to score on near the rim. Leonard fights over Asik’s screen, and Harden slows down to get Leonard on his hip.  Duncan, anticipating an explosion from Harden after the hesitation, moves backwards with his hands up to hinder a pass to the cutting Asik.

Harden tries to draw a foul from Leonard, then decides at the apex of his jump, “Screw it, I’m gonna make this shot whether the whistle comes or not.” The shot clangs off the back rim, through the net, and with 4.5 seconds remaining, the Rockets have a one point lead.

It is so good to have That Guy in a Rockets uniform again.

Next, Coach Nick from BBallBreakdown brings the video analysis of Harden’s forays to the rim:

Most interesting line: Coach Nick compares Harden’s pick-and-roll attack to the Vince Lombardi Packers running the sweep offense–everybody knew what was coming, but they still got seven yards. That’s important to note with the playoffs coming up because in the postseason, every inch of Harden’s play will be scouted and memorized by his defenders. Hopefully they still won’t stop him.

Lastly from Harden Week, Ian Levy and Kris Fenrich talk Beard in a lengthy email conversation about the importance of having a star:

And again we return to the mystery man himself: James Harden. I compared his current stats to each of the “stars” associated with championships that I sent in my previous response and I was pleasantly surprised to see how favorably his impact this season compares with the previous “stars.” His win-shares/48 this season are on par with Dirk’s title season, Duncan’s 1998-99 title season and fall just fractions behind Bird’s ’84 and Magic’s ’85 championships while ranking higher than both of Olajuwon’s title seasons, Kobe’s two most recent titles and Isiah Thomas’s back-to-back titles. I’m not referencing ws/48 as the end-all for performance, but in terms of impact and in concert with off/def-ratings and off/def win-shares and shows Harden comparing favorably to other championship “stars” in all categories with the exception of defensive win-shares.

Yes, please.

Tweet That – James Harden gets a kick out of Jeremy Lin’s breakfast choices.

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/JHarden13/status/319959439899762688"]

And here’s the video he’s referring to:

So to recap Jeremy Lin: panda toy, toothpaste, Volvo, leg energy, media, “Omeletflow”, Nash and Kobe are good, Houston drivers are slow, piano skills, NAP. Read the Bible, pray, pack, smile a lot,  James Harden came late to the handshake party, the game is a blur, the Lakers pooped their big-boy pants again, cryogenic freezing chamber, more media, fly to NOLA, 1 Corinthians 15:58.

To recap Linsanity: couch, chance, Madison Square Garden, media, Mike D’Antoni, jealous Melo, media, racial discussions, “Asian Tebow,” doubts, media, racially insensitive headline, more race discussion, Lakers, game winner, blue tongue, media, Miami Heat, losing, doubts, Melo returns, more doubts, injury, media.

There’s a reason Jeremy Lin doesn’t let his friends call him “Linsanity.” That magical stretch of games defined a season, not a person.

Got any sweet links or suggestions, email them to jeby901@gmail.com or message @EbyNews on Twitter.

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About the author: John Eby got on the Rockets bandwagon in 1994 and never got off. He is a public relations guy and recovering TV journalist living in South Carolina.