Jan 20, 2012; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard (12) and Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum (17) wait for the play to develop during the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE

Wherever Dwight Howard Lands, Lakers Can’t Lose Unless They Sit And Wait


You’ve heard the countless Dwight Howard stories. He’s staying in Orlando. He’s leaving. He wants to go to Brooklyn. He’s down to become a Laker. The list goes on and on.

And while we’re absolutely OK with landing a top-tier MVP candidate and the best defensive player in the NBA, we’re also getting pretty sick of this saga. The #Dwightmare, as our peeps on Twitter call it, needs to end soon so we can all go back to not watching basketball and letting other sports’ superstars predominate our thoughts.

And it needs to end soon for the Lakers’ own good. Because while Juwan Dwight Howard wants to become a Laker, the decision to pull the trigger was never dependent upon his willingness to sign a long-term deal; the deal is now — and, really, always has been — in the Orlando Magic’s court. Whether they think they’re getting the best deal is something that’s out of the Lakers’ control, and while some seem to think that taking as long as possible works in Orlando’s trade partner’s favor, we all know that GM Rob Hennigan isn’t a total idiot. Accepting a deal just because the NBA fan-base and NBA media are sick of it is stupid, and while letting everyone sit on their asses to await anything from the Orlando brass is annoying, it’s terribly smart, as long as it’s sometime before the season starts.

But the Lakers can get this done, and soon. They know Howard’s willing to commit now, so making a frantic push and burning up the phone wires — or, I don’t know, reaching their Gmail quotas or whatever these damn kids do nowadays — will be essential.

Because L.A. can’t just let this shit stagnate. If Orlando proves to be too difficult to work with — and they will, since they’re the team that’s giving up their franchise player — then L.A. needs to cut their losses and get out of this thing, Howard’s desires be damned.

Andrew Bynum’s waiting for an offer for a contract extension from Mitch Kupchak and company. The dude’s going to get max money, easily, and it’s damn near certain he won’t turn down his Bird rights and sign with L.A. for the rest of his prime.

But the Lakers aren’t the ones with all the leverage in that deal either, because though they hold Bynum’s Bird rights, Bynum is an unpredictable dude with his fair share of ego. If L.A. keeps him dangling — much like they did with Pau Gasol — he’ll be turned off to an organization that’s looking to move him and will wind up playing the rest of his season without a long-term contract from the Lakers (if the contract is offered too late and Bynum is pissed off to a certain degree). Then, in July, he can sign a max contract — though less than what L.A. can give him — with anyone he wants, and he’s already stated — indirectly and probably for leverage, mind you — he’d be down to sign with Dallas or Cleveland, teams with enough cap space to give him the deal he wants and deserves, leaving the Lakers without Bynum and Howard.

Of course, Bynum leaving is worst-case scenario for L.A., and for this to happen, all hell has to break lose. Ironically, for all hell to break lose in Laker-land, all Mitch Kupchak and Trust Fund Buss have to do is sit on their asses waiting for Orlando to make their decision. L.A. has to play the aggressor here, if they don’t want to find themselves a screwed-over team come next summer.

L.A. has to make its mind up now: Go all-in for Howard at all costs or give up on the damn thing and re-sign Bynum. There’s no middle-ground, conservative option here.

Shit has to hit the fan, as soon as possible.

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