For a while there it seemed as though Deron Williams and Dwight Howard pairing up was inevitable. The latter star was on the fast track out of Orlando; the former was due to become a free agent. Both had shown a certain admiration for what the Nets were putting together in Brooklyn, and both made it clear on a number of occasions that they were interested in playing together.
Of course, the union never actually materialized. Williams signed a max deal with the Nets. The Lakers traded for Howard. And just like that, a potentially league-changing dynamic duo never came to be.
By all accounts, Williams and Howard were good friends prior to this summer. And based on everything that had happened, there was really no reason to believe that anything in their relationship had changed just because they didn’t end up on one team.
Here is what Howard told reporters the day before his team’s showdown versus the Nets:
"That’s my decision," Howard said of him landing in L.A. (via ESPN) "My life. If he’s upset because I made a decision for me, then so be it. If he (Williams) doesn’t want to be friends because I’m on another team, then so be it. There’s no need to smooth things over."
Say what? That certainly makes it seem like something is going on there. What that something is, though, remains a mystery.
"It really doesn’t matter at this point," Howard said. "There’s no need to talk about the past. I’m happy being a Laker. I think this is the best situation for me. It’s what I need to move forward and I’m going to continue to get better."
For what it’s worth, Williams didn’t show any sort of animosity towards Howard during a recent interview with USA Today.
"I'm happy for him," Williams said of Howard. "It looks like he's having fun out there in LA. I know it's a lot off his plate now -- although I guess he still has to hear (the free-agency chatter) because he hasn't said if he'll re-sign (with the Lakers this summer). But he's got a home now. I think he's happy there and I wish him the best of luck."
It will be interesting to see how these two interact tonight. Again, it’s sort of bizarre for Howard to lash out like that – especially seeing as we hadn’t heard about there being any friction between him and Williams. Who knows, though, maybe there’s more to this story that will eventually come out.