Chance is a huge element in any poker game, but metaphorical poker conveys no such sense. Poker-as-metaphor is about people reading each other, not about having such reads rendered irrelevant by sheer dumb luck. So when I say that Orlando is playing Dwight Howard poker, I mean it in both senses of the game. The Magic might read the situation correctly, understand that Howard will likely re-sign with them, and have all that washed away by bad luck in May. I’m talking specifically about Lottery Selection Night, an evening where ping pong balls could bounce against Orlando–a non lottery team.
If the Magic hold tight and don’t trade Dwight by the March 13th deadline, they are relying on being the best among free agent suitors. If the Nets luck into their (roughly, probably) one-in-ten shot at a number one pick, I doubt that Orlando is top suitor.
This opens the door for a Davis-Howard-Williams team. The Nets may be an ignominious fail pile today, but face cards can change your franchise at the speed of Wi-Fi. To the casual NBA fan, Davis appears fuzzy, far off in the distance. This will not be the case by Summer, when draft hype elevates the undisputed number one pick to name brand status. In short, he will be a face card, one who lacks the power to simply leave the Nets on a whim.
As for those who can spurn the Nets on a whim: Well, do Deron and Dwight really have better options? Can Mark Cuban compete with this by flaunting Dirk Nowitzki at age 34? Provided BrookJersey clears some cap space (not a difficult task with 37 million in committed cash), they would present Dwight and Deron the most enticing proposition by a large margin. And the Nets could go from Brick City to Brooklyn to Block City just that fast. All they need is a little luck.