NBA Players, Media Weigh In On The Impact Of Lakers Acquiring Dwight Howard
As the NBA "gets used to the Lakers moving back toward the forefront, NBA players are voicing more opinions" about the team acquiring C Dwight Howard from the Magic, according to Mike Bresnahan of the L.A. TIMES. Thunder F Kevin Durant said, "That's what the Lakers do. They have great management and ownership to make those moves come to life." Thunder G James Harden: "Was I surprised? No. Big market. The Lakers always do a great job of getting good players. It doesn't take away from us at all." Bresnahan wrote more opinions "eventually will surface, but there hasn't been anything like the backlash that accompanied the quickly vetoed" Lakers-Hornets trade for G Chris Paul in December (L.A. TIMES, 8/12). Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said team Owner Jerry Buss is a "very competitive owner. When it comes down to making a decision over a couple of dollars or a million dollars or 10 million dollars or putting another banner up, you know, he can't help himself. He chooses to go for the banner." In California, Jeff Miller wrote, "The fact Kupchak put this roster together while working within the confines of the NBA's new collective-bargaining agreement makes his performance even more magical" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 8/12). Lakers G Kobe Bryant said, "I'm excited for the Laker franchise. Now they have a player that can carry the franchise well after I'm gone. It should be his. He should be willing to accept that challenge." In L.A., Bill Plaschke wrote, "Even amid leadership transition, with Jim Buss taking sometimes awkward control from Jerry Buss, the Lakers refuse to be anything but the Lakers." This trade was "a huge win for the younger Buss, another huge endorsement of General Manager Mitch Kupchak, and yet another reason the Lakers are the best franchise in professional sports." Bryant said, "History speaks for itself. There are certain franchises that seem to make all the right decisions. The credit goes to management" (L.A. TIMES, 8/11).
THE APPLE DOESN'T FALL FAR...: Also in L.A., T.J. Simers wrote under the header, "Jim Buss Gets The Last Laugh." With the acquisitions of Howard and G Steve Nash, Lakers Exec VP/Player Personnel Jim Buss "makes his father proud." Jim Buss said, "He wanted to know the terms of the deal, the teams we were dealing with and who was going where. And I'm saying, 'Dad, you just got out of surgery 14 hours ago; what are you talking about? I can't even believe you're on the phone.'" He added, "I was with him (Thursday) night and he was basically incoherent and he was going to be like that for two or three days. But now the nurse has him on the speaker phone, and while I'm thinking he's fallen off and gone to sleep again, he suddenly wants to know the money situation and who gets what and who gives what. Are you kidding me?" (L.A. TIMES, 8/11). The L.A. TIMES' Broderick Turner noted Jerry Buss "underwent a surgical procedure on Thursday, but the team would not provide many details." Lakers VP/PR John Black said, "He did have a surgery and it went fine. He's not home yet, but he's expected to make a full recovery" (L.A. TIMES, 8/12).
GOOD OR BAD FOR THE NBA? NBA.com's Steve Aschburner wrote the new CBA "was supposed to discourage excessive spending by the league’s richest teams by imposing an increasingly harsher luxury tax, appealing to their owners’ sense of true value." Yet when a team such as the Lakers "haul in an annual profit of $150 million to $170 million (by some estimates), why should they be worried about spending $95 million (payroll) or even $125 million (taxes added)." And with a new revenue-sharing system, "aren’t the Lakers better off spending it on themselves, for their fans, than having it divvied up to lesser teams in smaller markets?" But Aschburner asks, "Is this sort of superstar migration good or bad for the league?" It is "bad for Orlando and other teams that can’t keep their stars happy or committed." It is also "bad for the NBA’s image in a general sense, because it fuels the impression that the talent deck is stacked in favor of a few chosen franchises." But it "might be good for business overall." Strong franchises in L.A., N.Y., Boston, Chicago and a few other markets "seem to keep interest, ratings and souvenir sales high" (NBA.com, 8/10). ESPN.com's Michael Wilbon wrote, "Is this good for the NBA? Hell yeah, it is. It's great for any league when it has a cornerstone team that plays for keeps every single season" (ESPN.com, 8/10).
DOLLARS & SENSE: In N.Y., Howard Beck wrote, "The NBA is a parity-conscious league, the first to institute a salary cap, maximum contracts, a draft lottery, a luxury tax and an increasingly byzantine array of rules aimed at dispersing talent across 30 franchises." The Lakers, "in defiance of it all, keep accruing the best players, exploiting every wrinkle in that array" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/11). In Boston, Frank Dell'Apa wrote, "There is a price to pay, in terms of luxury tax -- the Lakers are going to be at least $50 million over the $74 million salary cap, based on current contract values" (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/12).
SUPERMAN'S BRAND? The Marketing Arm Sports Marketing Dir Darin David said, "What marketing executive wants to make Howard the face of their brand after watching last season play out? He may be on the Lakers now, but he should be hands-off from a brand perspective for at least the short term until he can repair his image" (ESPN.com, 8/10).
NOT-SO-MAGIC KINGDOM: In Orlando, Pedicini & Schlueb wrote Howard's trade "is another blow to downtown Orlando's Church Street district, where businesses are already struggling." The trade means "a rebuilding project for the Orlando Magic that could take years and mean smaller crowds at the downtown Amway Center." Meanwhile, a plan to redevelop property across from the arena into a sports and entertainment complex including Magic headquarters "remains up in the air." The city in September "granted the Magic a one-year purchase option on the property, now a city-owned parking garage." The Magic said that they "needed a year to study the possibility of moving their corporate headquarters from Maitland to Orlando" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 8/11).