When news broke yesterday that the Clippers were considering an offer of Blake Griffin and Eric Bledsoe in a sign-and-trade for Dwight Howard, social media blew up. The general consensus among Lakers fans was to turn the deal down and let Dwight walk, giving you more money for 2014. Some fans even wanted the Lakers to “tank” the season for a high draft pick to pair with a superstar.
I fear Lakers fans are putting too much stock into the summer of 2014.
In regards to the Lakers ever tanking a season, that’s beyond out of the question and I’m not going to acknowledge it. No team in the NBA should or will ever tank a season. The goal is to win a title and be competitive. The Lakers have a storied history as a franchise and would never consider tanking a season.
But the talk of going all-in for 2014 is one that can be debated. When the idea of a sign and trade came up yesterday, the popular opinion by a very large margin was to simply let Dwight walk and save cap space. While this is not a BAD decision, it’s not necessarily the smartest. The Lakers aren’t going to simply ignore the idea of a sign-and-trade as easily as fans might.
If the Clippers were to offer Griffin and Bledsoe for Howard, the Lakers would be foolish not to heavily consider this. If they were to move Howard for Griffin and Bledsoe, you still have plenty of cap room for 2014, plus a superstar already in place. With Nash the only Laker on the books at $9.7 million, adding Griffin’s $16.4 million and Bledsoe’s $2.6 million adds up to a total of just over $28 million dollars. With the cap set at roughly $59 million, that’s still enough money to offer a max deal to a superstar, plus another sizable contract to a second-tier player.
Which brings me to my next point. You can’t put all your hopes into the summer of 2014 basket. We watched teams like the Knicks and Nets become content with being mediocre because there was a possibility they could get LeBron in 2014, and we know how that worked out. You don’t rely on free agency like that.
And on top of that, LeBron is guaranteed to even be a free agent. Players like LeBron, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Zach Randolph, Amare Stoudemire, and Chris Bosh have the ability to become free agents, but that requires them to opt-out of their current contracts, which is far from a guarantee. If the Heat win the title this year or next, why would LeBron, Wade, or Bosh opt out? Amare is set to make over $20 million and would be silly to turn that down. Carmelo and Randolph both seem happy in their current environments. The summer of 2014 may not be what people think it’ll be.
I’m not saying the Lakers are wrong in their current gameplan. They’re focused on bringing Dwight back, with letting him walk and signing and trading him being options B and C, respectively. But fans need to be aware that putting all their hopes on free agency in 2014 can lead to lots of disappointment and anger.