Lakers Must Push for Trade of Dwight Howard to Mitigate loss

Apr 28, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard (12) during the game against the San Antonio Spurs in game four of the first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers are coming to a point where they will have to make a very difficult decision that will either secure the future success of the franchise or set it back for years to come.

Do they relentlessly pursue Dwight Howard and risk losing him for nothing.

Or do the Lakers decide to give up their pursuit and work with Howard in facilitating a sign and trade to net some talent in return.

The Lakers will be in fierce competition with a number of teams vying for Howard’s services.

It was recently reported that the Houston Rockets are shopping last year’s number 5 draft pick, Thomas Robinson, to any takers in order to free up cap space to offer a max contract to Howard. There were also reports that James Harden is actively making his pitch to Howard. Houston with Harden and some other nice young pieces make a great fit for Howard and appear to be the Lakers biggest threat.

Mark Cuban has made it clear of his intentions to do anything possible to sway Howard’s decision of staying in Los Angeles. The Dallas Mavericks do not have enough to offer Howard a max deal at the moment, but with Cuban’s persistent focus on nabbing Howard and screwing over the hated Lakers, he will undoubtedly make the necessary moves to clear cap space and make his aggressive and elaborate pitch. The pampering style of Cuban has always impressed NBA free agents and is likely the next most intriguing location for Howard.

The Atlanta Hawks already have the cap space to offer Howard a max deal without any maneuvers or assistance from other clubs. While all reports to this point have been that Howard is lukewarm about playing in his hometown of Atlanta, the flexibility that the Hawks posses make them a definite threat.

Many believe that the Lakers would be better off letting Dwight Howard walk because he is not a player to build your franchise around due to his limited offensive skills and questionable character. While there is some merit to that position, it is completely illogical; an asset is always better to posses than no asset.

In the Lakers keeping Dwight Howard they secure arguably the best center in the game, easily the best defensive center when healthy and a player that can consistently provide around 20 points, 12 rebounds and 3 blocks per game,  albeit awkwardly and lacking aesthetics.

Even if Howard doesn’t pan out as their center piece, he is still an asset that they can move a year from now for talent and be in a better bargaining position than the desperate position that they find themselves in now.

Dec 5, 2012; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson (second from left) talks to shooting guard Klay Thompson (11), power forward Andris Biedrins (15) and small forward Harrison Barnes (40) during the third quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace.The Warriors defeated the Pistons 104-97. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Lakers’ brass, Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss, will need to continue to gauge Howard’s interest and assess which direction Howard is leaning in his decision to stay or go. Their assessment and timing must be spot on accurate, if not, the Lakers franchise could be in disarray.

Kupchak and Buss must have discussions with Golden State about players like Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes and David Lee. While netting all three would be ideal and a great starting point in negotiations, getting one of them is crucial.

Lakers should talk to Houston about players like Thomas Robinson, Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin.

The Lakers can start talks with other teams that Howard might have not considered but could find attractive. Involving new teams can open up new opportunities for acquiring talent.

They can also have discussions to coordinate more attractive packages by involving other teams in a 3 to 4 team trade.

Mainly, the Lakers must talk, and talk, and continue to have discussions until the ideal acquisition is identified.

They must not sit on their hands and bank on the idea that nobody would voluntarily decide to leave the storied franchise of the Lakers with their illustrious history of championships, NBA legends and the bright lights of Hollywood.

A stubborn, all or nothing approach to the Howard situation by Kupchak and Buss could have disastrous results.

Mitch, Jim Buss and the Lakers’ future is on the clock with the alarm is set to go off on midnight July 10th, the first day that Howard can officially sign a contract.

Will we hear celebratory bells commemorating the signing of Dwight Howard, or the cunning execution of a trade that nets the Lakers exciting young talent for the future?

Or do we hear the death knell signifying the franchises spiraling downward path to obscurity.

We find out in 38 long and tense filled days from now.

You can reach me at the my Twitter handle, @fullcourtfern, to discuss this article, anything Lakers or NBA related, or if  you just need someone to talk to.  

Topics: Dwight Howard, Nba Playoffs

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  • jason

    That proposal with the Golden State Warriors is better considering we still have nash at the point and we really need reliable shooters and klay thompson and harrison barnes are good shooters.plus the fact that we need to have youth and athletism in the team.

    • Fern Rea

      Golden State would be the ideal trading partner with the Lakers. They are already a team that Dwight reportedly is interested in and they have good young talent. I doubt the Lakers could get both Barnes and Thompson, but getting 1 of them and filler is still better than getting nothing if Dwight just signs directly with Houston or Atlanta.

  • setrue

    Dwight will not land in Golden State because they are over the cap. GS will need a sign and trade with Lakers. With that leverage, Lakers will ask for Lee, Barnes, and Thompson. I doubt Jerry West would OK such a deal. When the Houston Rockets trade Thomas Robinson away, they can offer Dwight a 4 yr Max deal without needing a sign and trade from Lakers. Without leverage, Lakers will be willing to accept Asik and Lin to remain competitive. Ridding their salaries gives Houston Rockets cap relief flexibility to sign another complementary shooter for Dwight. IF HOWARD DECIDES TO LEAVE, this deal makes most sense for all three teams involved to walk away satisfied under the circumstances.

    • Fern Rea

      Absolutely agree that the Lakers should start any sign and trade conversation with Golden State by asking for Lee, Barnes and Thompson. And a few days after having GS hang up on them, they call back and start taking less.

      What i dont agree with is that the Lakers have leverage. GS actually has talent that the Lakers want and if they cant come to an agreement for a trade with GS, that means they risk losing Dwight to another team for nothing.

      So, the Lakers should accept something as low as Klay Thompson and filler to match salaries if all other talks fail.

      I dont think Lakers take Asik back in trade, maybe Lin. Asik is a nice player but overpaid and not someone that the Lakers could build around for the future. They’d rather Dwight just sign with Houston and search for a star with their cap space in 2014 and beyond.

      • setrue

        Hi Fern, I agree GS does have players that are attractive to the Lakers. But the Lakers do have more leverage over GS vs. Houston Rockets because GS needs Lakers cooperation in a sign and trade to land Dwight. Rockets do not need Lakers cooperation as they will have cap room (after trading Thomas Robinson) to offer Dwight a 4 yr. Max contract..

        You have a point that Lakers may not want Asik and only want Lin but Rockets GM Morey wants to rid himself of Asik contract to gain cap space to sign shooters that fit Dwight’s game. This is where Rocket’s leverage may come into play or not. If Asik is included in a deal then Pau Gasol’s will definitely be traded.

        • Fern Rea

          Im thinking from Dwight point of view. If the Lakers are in a discussion with GS that means that Dwight has agreed to play there. If the Lakers are not able to work something out with GS, team Dwight can say if you dont work something out we are signing in Houston and you get nothing. There goes the Lakers leverage. I would much rather they get either Harrison Barnes or Klay Thompson than Jeremy Lin or nothing at all. I love both those guys.