Last night after I got home from my oldest son’s baseball practice, I started doing a little bit of work down in my basement. I had my phone playing a little music from Pandora and I really didn’t have a thought in the world. About that time, I saw a note pop up on my phone that sparked a new life in me. It was a feeling that I haven’t had about my one true sports passion, the Charlotte Hornets, for at least a season. I see a “WojBomb” that Dwight Howard is being traded to the Hornets. Of course my heart skips a beat because I fear that we have made some sort of move that will cripple the team and I’m wondering who all we lost in the trade. Of course I stop what I’m doing because I need to see what just happened. As I read, a huge smile crosses my face.
Last season, I never gave up hope that the Miles Plumlee pickup was a move for a future move. I tried to see the positive in it, but the reality was that we had picked up a fairly large, multi-year contract on a player whose best year in the NBA was in the 2013-2014 season. So many fans were screaming for Rich Cho’s head on a platter. Rants on how crazy the move was and how it was pointless to let go of Hibbert and Hawes to take on a contract like that and that he should be fired. Call me crazy, but I started talking about how this was some sort of strategic move by the Hornets and Rich Cho for something else in the future. Everyone had to throw back in my face how there was no way that any team would ever take the Plumlee contract in a trade. My argument was a simple one because in my eyes, we had no big contracts that we could do trades for players we would like to have because the money didn’t match up. I took a lot of laughs back for that. I kept quiet and I just let it all go. In the one meeting I have had with Rich Cho, I just knew that he had to have something up his sleeve. The guy is super intelligent and just hearing a little bit about the process and all of the things that are looked at before a trade is pursued…let’s just say that my faith in Mr. Cho, while it was wavering a little, I still had faith. That’s hard to keep when the masses have no faith.
So back to last night…I start reading on my phone nervously. I see Miles Plumlee, Marco Belinelli, and our 41st pick in this trade. I laugh sheepishly at that list of goods we are giving away. Then I see that the return is Dwight Howard and Atlanta’s 31st pick and I’m as excited as can be. We basically moved up to the 1st pick in the second round and got a very, VERY capable, defensive minded big man for a slightly longer big contract on a player whose best years were almost 4 years ago, an aging 3-point specialist, and a middle of the 2nd round pick. All I can say is that Cho is a wizard!
I think that it sucks that from what I’ve heard this morning, Dwight has been blasted on Twitter for what he was traded for. The NBA is a business. With that being said, business moves have to sometimes be made. Atlanta made moves that they felt were vital to the future of their team, just like it was vital to our team. I’ll be the first to tell you that I was apprehensive about the Dwight Howard to Charlotte rumors last summer. Part of me wanted him here and part of me did not. Flash forward to the present, and with what players are on the roster, Dwight Howard on the roster is exactly what this team needed.
Basically Howard went from a good situation in Orlando where he could play his style of game, to a bad fit in LA, a bad fit in Houston, and last season in Atlanta, which still was not an ideal fit. Charlotte reunites him with what was his assistant coach in Orlando with Steve Clifford. Charlotte is a defensive minded team. Dwight Howard is a defensive minded player. Granted that Dwight may not be the 20+ point, double-digit rebounding, 2 blocks per game “Superman” that he was back in the early 2000s, but he is the player that averaged 13.5 points, 1.2 blocks, 1.4 assists, 12.7 rebounds, and had a 63.3% field goal percentage. That alone is better than Plumlee’s 2.4 point, 0.3 blocks, .2 assists, 3.2 rebounds, and 58.3% field goal percentage. We just got a whole lot better at a position that Charlotte has historically been weak in. I also believe that Howard will push Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky to become better players than they already are. If anyone remembers what Howard looked like in his rookie year compared to now, well, I can remind you. Just look at the picture at the beginning of the article. I think the guy knows a good bit about getting your body NBA ready. Cody has been adding the right amount of mass while Frank is still working on it.
I don’t want to talk about Dwight Howard being a prima-donna, or having a bad attitude. I want to talk about Dwight Howard being a Charlotte Hornet, about what an addition like this means to the team, and most importantly, what he can do to take us to the next level. I don’t expect him to be Superman. I expect him to work hard as he has done throughout his whole career. I expect him to be a great teammate to Kemba, Nic, Cody, Frank, Marv, and the rest of the crew. Most importantly, I fully expect to see him experience the same thing that Jeremy Lin experienced while here. Lin experienced a team unity that was very special. He experienced revitalization in his game and he started having fun again. If Dwight can have fun playing in Charlotte, he will see resurgence in his career, and he’ll have fun doing it. I wonder if Treveon Graham would give him the #12…
At any rate, welcome to Charlotte Dwight!