Training camp: Passing on Dwight may not have been about Howard
[+Gui Santos, sourced quotes for subscribers]
A few days ago I got a call from someone who used to be in Dwight Howard’s close circle, in response to my text to him about why it seemed like Howard was bitter in his tweet after being passed on by the Golden State Warriors for a training camp invite (let alone a non-guaranteed NBA contract): https://x.com/dwighthoward/status/1705612789715214440?s=46
Only as a WARRIOR can one withstand the path of knowledge. A WARRIOR cannot complain or regret anything. His life is an endless challenge. And challenges cannot possibly be good or bad. Challenges are simply challenges. 💯 🏾 go be GR8
I was told that Dwight has always had an inner motivation self-encouragement when moving on, that the word “warrior” has been part of his lexicon for years. It was less about the actual Warriors than it was about turning the page and giving his all to the next opportunity.
Below the paywall 👇 I will post more details — including how the 37-year-old performed in workouts in comparison to the other “five centers” (per Mike Dunleavy’s pre-Media Day presser the other day) — of the lengthy conversation with the insider. In short: the GSW vets wanted Howard and expected him to be signed as the 14th roster slot, and were miffed when Dwight was passed on.
While the addition of Howard seemed like a no-brainer at the time, and my source was frustrated by the seemingly blatant embrace of small-ball despite certain specific analytics (again, noted below the paywall) proving otherwise, I’m more the “curious” than “judgmental” type and I’m reminded of that scene from Ted Lasso where he plays darts:
And so in the spirit of curiosity rather than just throwing Steve Kerr under the bus and labeling him as someone who hates having “a big” on the roster, I offer two explanations. First, I’ve been thinking that pundits and people hardly ever talk about Gary Payton II — S/O to Dalton Johnson for doing so and asking Kerr about GP2 (and Andrew Wiggins) the other day and writing an article about it — and no one has really gone through the trouble of contemplating what the actual rotations might be. Are there really minutes available?
Maybe since Steve has actually put possible rotations into a spreadsheet unlike the rest of us, he knows something we don’t in regards to not needing Dwight.
My second speculative explanation: could it be that they just signed Usman Garuba and if you bring Dwight in right after that, that might not be politically correct with Garuba’s agent and/or inner circle? After all, Usman on a two-way is a bit of a steal. Dunleavy can always bring in Howard later, assuming he doesn’t sign elsewhere. After all, the LA Lakers almost completely changed their identity at the trade deadline and got to the WCF.
Anyways, we’ll see. I also just listened to the full MDJ and Kerr pressers — full transcripts coming soon on this website — and the context of their answers to passing on Dwight weren’t as bad as the tweets that just say “we have five centers” and that’s it.
Here’s our Dean “of Positivity” Chambers offering his two cents on that rotation:
If you say Steph, Klay, Wiggs & Dray are going to average 32 minutes a night, then CP3 & Looney are around 24. GPII averages around 20. Maybe you could bring Paul & Looney a little lower, but let's go with that. That would give you enough minutes to play Moody & Kuminga 18 minutes a game, & Saric 8. So there's only so much time to even have available for anyone else. I guess maybe it's not totally worth it to sign either Howard or Gay, with their age.
What I'd like to see done is this. Sign JTA to the 14th spot, & keep Garuba as a two way for now. I'm going to use Marquese Chriss as an example of a younger big who cannot be signed to a two way. Let those two compete for the 15th spot. If Garuba wins, he's your other big.
As for Kerr, he's my guy. He's been my guy since I heard his voice on tv & realized what a great basketball mind he has. But he's going to have to prove that his aversion to most role playing bigs is the right move here. As you'll remember, most of the dynasty has had great bench bigs until recently. Saric could be an even better version of Bjelica, & Kuminga should have the power to guard larger players. But I still think it's good to have a true center whose job it is to protect the rim, clean the glass & run the paint. & be felt by the other team haha. Speights, Pachulia, West, McGee, Cousins, Looney at one point, even OPJ were like that. So a little size off the bench, spreadsheet be damned, is probably a good idea.
Subscribers can check out more insider details including a Garuba tidbit below the paywall 👇 Thank you for your support, subscribers/donors!
Finally, the training camp roster. Notice that there’s no Gui Santos. I was told by someone close to Santos that he was going to sign the third and last available two-way contract, but today it turned out to be Jerome Robinson with Santos not even on the training camp roster. I followed up with my contact and he said Gui “will get one. They told him to stay one more year like they did with Jordan Poole. It’s going to happen. They really see the improvements at G League and Summer League in Vegas.
Kerr told him to keep doing the good job (in reference to Gui’s FIBA World Cup performance) and be ready when the chance comes.”