They were known as the Dwightmares, Parts I through IV (or was it V?) The Nets' attempts to trade for Dwight Howard, each initially filled with hope then ending in disappointment. Howard didn't wind up in Brooklyn, but L.A. and then Houston. He admits Brooklyn was his first choice and that his decision the night before the 2012 trade deadline doomed his chances.
"Like I said, everything happens for a reason. There was a point in time where I thought this [Brooklyn] was the best place for me to play basketball. I guess things didn't happen the way I wanted them to."
The day before the March 15 deadline, the Nets believed they had a commitment from Howard that he would not sign his early option waiver. Without the waiver, a planned trade between the Magic and Nets planned for the next day. But on a flight home from San Antonio, Howard changed his mind. The Nets brass found out the next morning when they turned on their computers. From that point forward, the Nets fortunes turned.
Later that day, the Nets front office decided to go in a different direction, shoring up their small forward position, and traded for Gerald Wallace, giving up their top pick in the 2012 Draft ... with limited protections.
Some in the organization have called it a "panic move" and NO single move in the last decade has generated more criticism from fans. (Our running story that day had 3,759 comments.) It certainly looks like a panic move in retrospect. The pick became Damian Lilllard, the Rookie of the Year. Wallace played well the rest of that year and the Nets rewarded him with a four year, $40 million contract. It quickly turned into an albatross. After a bad first year in Brooklyn, the Nets eventually shipped Wallace to Boston in the Paul Pierce - Kevin Garnett deal. Boston reportedly demanded a pick to take on his contract.
"I think when I opted in that kind of changed everything," Howard said. "But like I said, Houston’s a great place. I love where I’m at. I found a great home here."
So is Howard the reason for where the Nets are today? Maybe, but on the other hand, you do have to give him credit. He was the first --and so far-- only superstar to ever demand a trade to the Nets.
Another Rocket who did don the black and white says he's surprised at the Nets fortunes and seems to blame the pressure to win now.
"Great organization, great arena, new fan base, but the pressure to win in this building is high, and they expect whatever they put on the floor to get it done," said Jason Terry, who didn't perform well in Brooklyn and got shipped out but is now doing well in Houston.
- Dwight Howard’s big Nets regret leaves a franchise doomed - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Jason Terry: What happened to Nets’ contender setup? - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Dwight Howard readies for Brooklyn debut - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
Dwight Howard reflects, has regrets on push to become member of Nets after lockout - Kurt Helin - NBC Sports