Dwight Howard Free Agency Watch: Part 2

To begin, since I hadn’t written in so long before last night, I’ll be trying to cover my bases here initially regarding some of the past news that’s come out during my hiatus.

One of the nuggets which has made its way into our discourse is the revelation that Dwight Howard apparently is intrigued by the prospect of teaming up with Rockets center Omer Asik.  This was referenced again by Grantland’s Jalen Rose during his most recent video interview.  The revelation is surprising to say the least as conventional wisdom would dictate, upon a Howard signing, dealing the pricey-yet-valuable Asik for a true power forward.  Or perhaps it is not too surprising.

Part of me thinks, while harsh, that the sentiment somewhat speaks to Howard’s self-delusions regarding his own abilities.  Asik is the prototypical garbageman, a master at cleaning up and doing the heavy lifting required to help teams win.  Howard is essentially a superstar garbageman who, apart from his elite abilities finishing at the rim, is basically just really, really good at cleaning up garbage.  Great centers with true offensive skills love to have garbage-men beside them (Otis Thorpe, Charles Oakley, Horace Grant) because the extra muscle allows them to funnel their energy into post scoring, knowing a capable partner is there to pick up the slack.  If Hakeem loved Otis Thorpe, it made sense.  But Howard wanting Asik is a bit odd as Asik essentially does what Howard is supposed to be doing.

A reader pointed out this morning, citing Howard’s affinity for Serge Ibaka, that Howard likely would prefer to help from the weakside and have a ‘mate who will “help the helper.”  The reader cited Howard’s comments earlier this season about defensive trust.  This makes some sense.

If Howard were to be signed, I’m not completely sure what I’d do with Asik.  (If Howard truly wants him around, it’s a moot point.)  On the one hand, $8million for a backup (I do not think they can play in tandem for major minutes during this era plagued by the tyranny of the positional revolution) with high value is not very good asset allocation.  On the other hand, two elite DPOY-caliber defensive 7 footers is one hell of a luxury to have for a contender.

I’ve gone on record with regard to my reluctance towards Josh Smith.  I think he could surely be had in a deal for Asik.  While Smith too is elite (by some statistical standards perhaps the best perimeter defender in basketball) defensively, like Howard, he’ll soon be on the decline.  If Howard were to be acquired, at this point in time, I’d prefer to hold onto Asik, at least for the time being, and give the young power forwards a shot at development.

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