In the barren desolation of July, everyone in the sports world is completely, excruciatingly, dreadfully bored.
There is absolutely no other reason for the media and fans alike to obsess over the offseason moves of the newly-dubbed Brooklyn Nets, especially the team’s pursuit of maligned Magic center Dwight Howard.
After LeBron’s “Decision,” it’s probably inevitable that any superstar’s movement from a small-market team to a big-market one will draw attention, but the frenzy surrounding the most recent round of trade talks for Howard verges on ridiculous.
As baseball took its All-Star break and other sports enter the offseason, it’s inevitable that these rumors would gain traction, but the attention they’ve garnered belies one very simple fact — Howard joining the Nets may mean absolutely nothing.
Many have been quick to dub Brooklyn’s proposed trio of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Howard as the next “Big Three” in the NBA’s growing trend of super teams, but it seems no one has paused to consider if such a team could truly contend for a title.
With Miami’s recent championship breakthrough, it’s hard to imagine any other team being successful in the Eastern Conference in the near future, let alone coping with other contenders like Chicago, Indiana and Boston.
But perhaps the greater cause for concern is the demeanor of the players the Nets are looking to assemble. Aside from their lack of tangible playoff results, as a Finals appearance for Howard and a conference finals berth for Williams are the trio’s only notable achievements, it would seem that each player’s personality is ill-suited for winning titles.
Howard’s childish attitude and contract flip-flops are well documented, but the others aren’t exactly Michael Jordan either. Johnson is renowned for his cool detachment, while Williams was a key part of longtime Jazz coach Jerry Sloan’s dismissal.
None have ever exactly been characterized as leaders in the locker room. When the Celtics and Heat assembled their powerful triads, they had vocal generals like Dwyane Wade and Kevin Garnett to keep everyone in line.
Of these three, Johnson would seem to be the most veteran presence, but most analysts seem to paint him as a player happy to get his 20 points per game on jumpers, rather than as an aggressive leader driving to the basket. It’s entirely possible that the reduced pressure on him to be the team’s star may change his conduct, but this remains to be seen.
Instead, the burden of becoming the team’s “alpha dog” would most likely fall to Williams. Howard seems to be looking to leave Orlando in part to avoid being his team’s go-to guy, while Williams would relish such an opportunity, for better or worse.
He often seemed to float through games in his first two seasons as a Net, and while the quality of the team around him undoubtedly played a role in this attitude, the results of a team centered around Williams aren’t pretty.