Grade the trade: Dwight Howard deal helps Nets down the line; Hornets move on from big man's antics

Dwight Howard was once an MVP candidate. He was the first player in NBA history to win Defensive Player of the Year three times in a row. He was a franchise cornerstone piece that dominated in the pick and roll while protecting the rim with ferocity.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Hornets and Nets were finalizing a Howard trade on Wednesday where Brooklyn would receive the veteran big man in exchange for Timofey Mozgov and two second-round picks in a clear salary move. The Hornets are getting under the luxury tax while the Nets get an expiring contract to come off their books at the end of the 2018-19 season. 

According to SportsLine Data Scientist Stephen Oh, the Hornets are slightly worse following this trade, while the Nets get slightly better. The reported trade is not projected to have an impact on the two team's expected finish in the Eastern Conference. 

BROOKLYN

WINS

WIN%

PLAYOFF%

EAST

Before Trade

29.8

36.3%

1.0%

13

w/ Howard

30.3

37.0%

1.5%

13

Impact

+0.6

0.7%

0.5%

--






CHARLOTTE

WINS

WIN%

PLAYOFF%

EAST

Before Trade

34.3

41.8%

12.4%

10

w/o Howard

32.8

40.0%

7.0%

10

Impact

-1.5

-1.9%

-5.4%

--

Howard has had a major fall from grace, being traded twice in two years, and far from being an All-Star-caliber player. However, despite this, he's still not a terrible player. His personality can be grating, but he still averaged a double-double for the Hornets and generally played well for them. He's not a star anymore, but he's a solid role player. Thus, when looking at a trade involving him, it's important to see him that way. Don't judge Howard for what he used to be, but what he is now. 

So how did each side fare in the deal? Let's grade the trade.

Brooklyn Nets

Receive:

  • Dwight Howard

For the Nets, there is nothing lost in this move. They move away from an unhappy Mozgov and his albatross of a contract for an expiring deal. Brooklyn didn't bring Howard in with intentions to win. Maybe he can help them win a few games, but that isn't his role for the Nets. He's nothing more than a giant expiring contract to be used for salary cap relief at a later point.

Once his contract expires, it's likely the Nets will move on from Howard due to the fit among other things. Brooklyn is a team that wants to develop young players, play fast and shoot 3-pointers. Howard's skillset doesn't match the Nets' at all. He's slower than he used to be and has an obsession with playing in the post. He's too slow to get back on defense on misses and if a team commits to it they can run him off the floor. 

He's still solid in the pick and roll, a great rebounder and a solid defender. Howard isn't a bad player. His faults are just magnified on teams that play a style similar to Brooklyn. He's going to take minutes away from younger players that need them and Howard doesn't have the personality to enjoy sitting on the bench. The ideal outcome would be it the two sides can work out a buyout of some kind.

All of that said, the future salary gain alone and the dumping off Mozgov's contract is well worth the minor headaches making Howard fit will cause. The two second-rounders included won't hurt them much either. The Nets made a good trade. Grade: B- 

Charlotte Hornets

Receive:

  • Timofey Mozgov
  • Two future second-round picks

Let's not think about this too hard. Howard was fine in Charlotte from an on-the-court perspective, but he wasn't good enough to help bring the Hornets to the playoffs. If he can't do that, then he's not worth the headache and locker room issues that usually come with him.

The Hornets made this move to get under the luxury tax line and move on from a player who was never the best fit in the first place. They get some second-round picks out of the deal, and have to take on Mozgov's contract, but that's all minor compared to the overall goal of avoiding the tax. In that sense, the Hornets got what they wanted out of the deal.

However, does moving Howard indicate a bleaker future for Charlotte? The Hornets don't have a roster capable of making the playoffs consistently and more changes feel necessary. This reported trade could be the first of many more moves to come over the offseason.

The deal itself is inoffensive and the Hornets aren't going to be penalized too much for it. It's not a good trade for them, but there isn't really a reason to consider it a bad one either. That's what happens when a move is made for salary and tax reasons. Grade: C- 

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