Ahead of the Curve
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Still scratching your head trying to figure out how Dwight Howard thinks he's gonna' win a ring in Houston?

Don't bother.  There's nothing to figure out.

Dwight's not in Space City to win titles.

Not that it wouldn't make him a happy-camper.  Who doesn't want a ring?  But it's not his priority, it's not his sole purpose for being.  And anyone who tells ya' different, well, looking at where he landed, 'That dog won't hunt.'

The Houston Rockets won this round of the Dwight Howard Sweepstakes because Mr. Howard is a big fish who likes a smaller pond, i.e., Houston Rockets (v. LA Lakers).

In the final analysis, the Lakers were just too big a pond: the city and the roster.

Kobe Bryant's a special player.  And he still has a taste for champagne.  But he can be an earful.  Put another way, he's an on-court motivator.  If you're not producing or you're not on Mike D'Antoni's playbook page, Mr. Bryant will let you know.

Dwight's no wall-flower.  He's a veteran of the NBA wars and, though his numbers (RPG / PPG) should be higher, he's a terrific talent.  But he's not accustomed to being, how should I put it, coached with vigor.

If he'd wanted a title badly enough, like, say, that guy who moved from Cleveland to Miami a few years back, he would've stayed-put in Lakerland or negotiated his way to some other destination more likely to reap reward in ring-art & team trophy (O'Brien).

Howard's new team is a young (Harden / Lin / Parsons), competitive bunch (45-37 '13) with offensive punch who should make their new superstar teammate feel welcome and plenty big.  Because of a lack of experience in their line-up, Dwight's arrival moves Houston up just a notch in rank to serious Western Conference contender.

As word has come down that money, excess amounts, anyway, was not the biggest issue on Dwight's agenda, the 'smaller pond' and 'championships are not life' postulations ring a little louder and a bit more veracious.

Two caveats:

Rockets' GM Daryl Morey and coach Kevin McHale may work changes to their current roster before (& after) NBA 2013-14 tips off in fall, making Howard's new team a more serious title aspirant and then his move more ring-relevant.

Second, that same grapevine also informs us Dwight Howard's new Houston contract supposedly gives him ample & early opportunity to take his services elsewhere if the urge strikes.  While that freedom should work both ways (Rockets), it affords DH time to luminate in oil country while considering other options & circumstances, i.e., he can change his mind again with most of the cost coming out of his reputation.

If it's true that Dwight Howard's existence does not begin & end with the winning of an NBA championship, don't get down on him too hard, people.  Don't forget, LeBron James & his brassy friends took some serious flak for working TOO hard to manufacture a title in Miami.

Like Abe said (not Vigoda), we're a hard bunch to please, or fool, or something like that.

But either way, whether Dwight's bound & determined to raise an O'Brien (and hug & kiss and whatever else they do to it today) or will find happiness wherever he hangs his hat, I tip my cap to this man, and Mr. James, for that matter, who are, like Frank Sinatra crooned, guys who dood it "(theeeeeeeeir) way."

Steven Keys
Nothing But Net

 
July 13, 2013  02:34 PM ET

If by "rise" you mean, win a title (Dwight), I'm not so "sure," but thanks for reading, AR.

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