Magic center Dwight Howard puts up impressive numbers, but the Bulls don’t really need him. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: April 10, 2012 11:52AM
It was a fitting T-shirt choice made by Dwight Howard for the Magic’s shootaround Thursday morning.
Solidarity for his franchise be damned, even with Orlando fighting the uphill battle of trying to show that it at least belongs in the same discussion with the Bulls and Heat in the Eastern Conference.
“Dwight Howard’’ was scrolled across his chest, just in case there was another 6-11, 265-pounder walking around, you know, making things confusing as to which one is the disgruntled All-Star center.
Howard to the Bulls? Please, it’s time we all get off this ride.
“It’s definitely getting old,’’ Bulls point guard Derrick Rose said before the game. “We’re sick and tired of hearing it.
“I’m cool with the teammates I have.’’
And better off.
That remained apparent, as Howard continued to hold his team hostage with the NBA trade deadline less than a week away. Like he did at the All-Star Game, Howard continued to pretend he was a team-first guy, only to then discuss which teams are welcome to visit Howard Island.
It seems the Bulls had their invite revoked because of weather concerns.
“Nah, it’s pretty cold here,’’ Howard said when asked about the Bulls rumors.
Nothing says warrior-poet like a player who doesn’t want to chase a ring because of lake-effect snow.
As far as playing alongside the league’s 2010-11 MVP, Howard again couldn’t help but let his true colors shine through.
“I don’t think there’s a player in the NBA who wants to be a nobody,’’ Howard said. “I think everybody wants to be that guy to take the last shot, be that guy that everybody is leaning on for whatever reason, and I don’t think there’s any problem with wanting to be that guy. I’ve been that guy for this team since I’ve been here.’’
Let’s pause here and take time to watch all the clutch moments from the Dwight Howard collection.
At least Magic coach Stan Van Gundy was there to give a ringing endorsement to Howard and how he has conducted himself.
“There’s always distractions,’’ Van Gundy said. “On every team, there’s distractions. That’s just the way it goes. I know it’s tough on our players. They’re a week away from the trade deadline. I know it’s on all their minds, but you still have to go out and play basketball.’’
Van Gundy then went on to discuss all the things he doesn’t like about his team.
But where it really got juicy was when Van Gundy was asked about the Bulls and the face of their franchise.
“I think the other thing is they have a great player in Derrick Rose with a great attitude,’’ Van Gundy said.
Translation: “I hate Dwight Howard.’’
“[Rose is] just all about winning and making his teammates better,’’ Van Gundy said.
“It’s not about him; it’s not about gaining publicity and attention; it’s not about his numbers. You watch him play, he’s just about winning games. And so you have a very, very well-coached team with a lot of depth and a lot of players, and their best player is really the kind of guy you need to win with in this league.’’
Translation: “I hate Dwight Howard.’’
Yeah, let’s get on the horn and pull the trigger on that deal.
Look, the 20 points and 15 rebounds a night from Howard are nice in fantasy leagues, but in this case, let the current makeup of the Bulls ride. If it’s not good enough to beat the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals this time around, address it in the offseason.
Maybe Howard’s big-man, little-shoulders act will play well somewhere else, but not with what the Bulls are trying to build.
“Like I said, we feel very good about our team, the depth of our team and the guys that we have,’’ Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “There’s going to be a million trades talked about; very few of them happen. Most of it is speculation. Some of it I have no idea where it even comes from.
‘‘All the teams, everybody is talking to each other. There’s a lot of misinformation out there. You just don’t pay any attention to it.’’
Or in the case of Howard to the Bulls, you hope it just goes away.