"She does stink and she should quit. But I don't want it to be because of me. It should be the traditional route; years of rejections and failures till she's spit out the bottom of the porn industry." — Jerry Seinfeld, from the Seinfeld episode "The Cartoon"
My brain works in strange ways, and one of those ways is that when something provocative or amusing occurs, I immediately, almost Pavlovian-ally, tie it to a scene or quote from the 1990's hit television series, Seinfeld. (And yes, I know that I am dating myself.)
So when news breaks Wednesday morning of Dwight Howard being traded to his fourth NBA team in four years — and I say this with all due respect to the porn industry, which has guided me and millions of other young men through puberty and parts of adulthood — it was that quote, in which Jerry is describing an aspiring and highly annoying comedienne (played by the equally annoying Kathy Griffin), that instantaneously popped into my head.
Charlotte is finalizing a deal to send Dwight Howard to the Brooklyn Nets for Timofey Mozgov, league sources tell ESPN. Nets will save $17M on deal in 2019-20 season, allowing them to create two max salary slots.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 20, 2018
And why wouldn't it? Let's recap the precipitous fall of one Dwight David Howard, shall we? It was just five years ago, almost to the week, when Dwight was lining up visits from a slew of NBA teams, ready to choose his new place of business in free agency. The Mavericks, Lakers, Warriors, Nets, and Rockets were the lead dogs among the suitors.
Ultimately, persuaded by a traveling contingent that included Hakeem Olajuwon, Dwight chose to come to Houston —- by the way, can you imagine how history would have been altered had Dwight chosen the Warriors? — and the franchise's strange trajectory over the next three seasons was set. There was Dwight's first season that ended with Damian Lillard-fueled heartbreak, and there was Dwight's second season which ended in the Western Conference Finals. That was about the apex of the second act of Dwight Howard's NBA career. (The first act was back when he was an actual force in the league, and an annual MVP candidate, pretty much his whole Orlando run.)
In the 2015-2016 season, it was quite evident that the fall would be swift and painful. The Rockets started the season 4-7, Kevin McHale (seemingly a big man's coach, if there ever would be one) was fired, and the plummet was on. The Rockets would go 41-41, and the soap opera that was bubbling between James Harden and Dwight Howard was pungent.
Ultimately, one of the two had to go, and it obviously was not going to be Harden, who was one season removed from an MVP runner up campaign, and who was still, well, great at basketball. "Great" and "Dwight Howard" hadn't collided in the same sentence since around 2011. Ultimately, Dwight opted out of his contract, and he decided to return home to Atlanta on a three year, $70 million deal. That was, presumably, the last time anybody would believe in Dwight Howard to the tune of over $20 million per season. (However, never underestimate the stupidity of some GM's. It may happen again, you never know.)
Dwight said all the right things early on in Atlanta, but that lasted just a few months before they tired of his act, as well. Just to be clear, Dwight's "act" is not one to where you hate Dwight. No, it's more that his act frustrates and annoys you because he LOOKS like he should be so productive, that if he would just do what the Rockets ask Clint Capela to do that he would be a force, but instead he likes snakes, Skittles, farting, and grabbing other men's junk on the bench...
So the Hawks traded Dwight to the Hornets, where the talk was that head coach Steve Clifford would find a way to unleash some of the "old Dwight" on the NBA. Well, Dwight's numbers were kind of just what they've been during the second act — 16 points, 12 rebounds a game, numbers a sculpted, athletic seven footer should get in his sleep — and the Hornets were about as moribund as you'd expect, 36-46, tenth in the NBA's Eastern Conference.
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Then came Wednesday, the day on which Dwight was traded to the Nets — finally, I suppose, given their interest in the 2012-ish version of Dwight. He was traded for center Timofey Mosgov, who, if you recall, was the first free agent to sign a deal in the opulent offseason of league-wide overspending in 2016, four years, $64 million with the Lakers. Mosgov's deal was, and still is, considered one of the biggest jokes league-wide.
Well, the Hornets traded for two seasons of that joke, giving up just one season of Dwight. Read that again — the Hornets would rather have Timofey Mosgov for TWO YEARS than Dwight Howard for one more. The Nets, meanwhile, get a fat, horrid contract off the books a season earlier so they can go after two big free agents in 2019.
In essence, in five years, Dwight Howard has gone from being THE marquee free agent to being the lubricant for a team like the Nets to sign two of them. If that's not being spit out of the bottom of the porn industry, then I don't know what is.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.