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Dwight Howard Free Agency Watch: Part 9

I’m probably reading way too much into this, but I was expecting a much different tone coming out of the Lakers camp coming out of that meeting yesterday, rather than the subdued, somber reports we saw, like the one above.

Y!’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported late, late last night that:

The Rockets remain frontrunners for Howard, but Howard is still giving consideration to remaining with theLos Angeles Lakers, sources said.

 ”The Rockets have put themselves in position to pull this off,” one source with knowledge of Howard’s decision-making process said. “If he wants to win right now – and be set up to keep winning – it’s hard to make a case for anyone but Houston.”

For now, Howard reportedly has left Los Angeles for the outdoors to do some thinking.  In my book, the more time that elapses between his decision and those meetings, the better.  It gives him a chance to consider ration and reason and detach himself from the emotionally driven appeals to ‘guilt’, ‘loyalty’, and ‘legacy’ characterized by that Laker pitch.

What concerns me–and something unique to the sports world as a subset of the larger legal community–is the role of Howard’s representatives.  It’s a theme you see play out over and over again in different free agencies: reports that X player’s agent is trying to steer X player towards Y team to serve agent’s own interests.  That’s a clear breach of fiduciary duty.

A detached fiduciary, abiding by ethical norms, would consult his client: “well, remember Dwight: they may have just told you they can offer $30million more, but like we talked about last week…that’s a gross sum.”….”that’s a great endorsement package they just offered you, but remember, we can also find you deals from other cities.”….

Given what we know from the past, I don’t know if Dan Fegan is doing that.  (Agents stand to bring home 2%-3% of the gross total from the transaction.)  I don’t want to speculate, but let’s just say I hope Morey and co. really hammered home upon those financial distinctions in his presentation, in simple/memorable terms, because you can be sure they won’t be reinforced by Howard’s representatives in the coming days.

This was an extremely odd piece from Ken Berger last night, someone who I formerly had considered a neutral, respectable insider:

I just know that if he stays with the Lakers, he’ll put the NBA on notice that he’s finally figured it out. If he stays with the Lakers, he’ll take the first step toward repairing his image, proving his loyalty and entering the exclusive club of legends who’ve been made there.

He’ll be signing up for something hard, something challenging to live up to. It isn’t easy to win championships and be great.

I also know this: If he leaves, he’ll just go back to being Dwight Howard. Somehow, that makes the most sense.

I think that staying in L.A. for the lifestyle and the glamour is certainly a rational decision – it’s a quality of life choice, even if not comporting with one’s professional goals.  But these watered-down platitudes of ‘loyalty’ and ‘legacy’ which have characterized the narrative surrounding the Lakers’ pursuit are downright embarrassing and should be taken as an insult to any reasonable individual’s intelligence.

There are rational reasons to stay in L.A.: if you don’t have faith in your body beyond a 4th year, if you truly believe Lebron will come, if you just simply love the city.  But among those rational reasons, “because we’re the Lakers” is not and should not be one of them.

in columns, musings

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