Nov 15, 2012; Charleston, SC, USA; Murray State Racers guard Isaiah Canaan (right) drives to the basket during the first half of Game 4 of the Charleston Classic against the Auburn Tigers at TD Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Why the Lakers Need to Agree to a Sign and Trade with Houston for Howard

Apr 5, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard (12) warms-up before a game against the Memphis Grizzlies at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers pride and plans for the future after the Kobe Bryant era took a disastrous hit yesterday with Dwight Howard’s decision to leave Los Angeles for the sunnier skies of…Houston? Whether Howard’s decision was a good one or not is really not the Lakers concern anymore as they have to adjust their plans to return to dominance quickly.


What we know today with complete certainty is that Howard is going to sign with the Houston Rockets whether the Lakers assist in getting him there or not. The Rockets still have to dump a few more salaries in order to offer Howard a max deal and will ask the Lakers to assist in accomplishing that goal. Instead of the Lakers being bitter about losing out on Howard they should work on acquiring what the can from Houston. While Houston might not have much to offer, there is nice young, untapped talent with potential that the Lakers can at least take a look at next year and see if there are any surprises in the same fashion as a Shannon Brown and Earl Clark have turned out to be in the past.


Houston will likely try to rid themselves of big man Omar Asik and maybe even Jeremy Lin, but will not succeed in pawning them off on the Lakers as both players are not worth their salary and are under contract for beyond next season which would hamper the Lakers flexibility for the free agent season of 2014.


The young players on the Houston Roster that the Lakers should acquire in trade with Houston:


Apr 5, 2013; Portland, OR, USA; Houston Rockets power forward Terrence Jones (6) posts up against Portland Trail Blazers small forward Victor Claver (18) at the Rose Garden. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Terrence Jones: Forward / 21 years old / Experience: 1 year


  • A long 6’9 forward with athletic ability in the mold of Earl Clark, only without the offensive skills. Doesn’t have much of an outside game, but likes to attack the basket and is devastating in the open court.





Donatas Motiejunas: Forward/Center / 22 years old / Experience: 1 year


  • The 7 foot Lithuanian has been compared to Dirk Notwitski due to his body type, size and offensive skill set. In March Motiejunas got some playing time and did produce, putting together a string of double digit scoring games.


Greg Smith: Forward/Center / 22 years old / Experience: 2 years


  • A 6’10 bruising forward/center that makes a living around the paint. Rockets might not be so willing to give up on Smith as he was able to crack the rotation in his 2nd season with the Rockets. Smith appeared in 70 games last season for the Rockets and was very productive in limited time. Based on 36 minutes per game, Smith averaged 13.7 points per game and 10.4 rebounds per game.


Isaiah Canaan: Point guard/ 22 years old / Experience: Rookie


  • Rockets picked up the Murray State point guard with their 34th pick in this past NBA Draft. Canaan was listed as a late first rounder in many mock drafts and is seen as a player very similar to the Denver Nuggets Ty Lawson. Strong, aggressive and good outside shooter, Canaan could be a player that could provide some youth to the aging backcourt of Nash and Blake.


The Importance of the Trade Exception:


In the Lakers trading Howard and his roughly 20 million dollar contract to the Rockets, while only taking back a portion of that salary in return, the difference will net them a trade exception that they can use in acquiring a player in a trade down the road. By having a trade exception in their back pocket all year they could be players in acquiring talent that come up on the trading block later in the season. For example, Lamarcus Aldridge might demand a trade from Portland. The Lakers could acquire Aldridge and absorb his 14 million dollar contract with the trade exception. Combine the additional young assets that they acquired and developed from Houston they could offer a decent trade package to the Blazers. This is just a hypothetical scenario but it is to show the value of a trade exception.


The Lakers could also acquire draft picks from Houston in addition to the young talent on their roster to further stock pile their assets for future trades.


This is not the position that the Lakers were hoping to be in at this point but it is where they find themselves, searching for plan B and trying to mitigate their loss of Dwight Howard. They need to swallow their pride and get what they can from Houston, then move on. After this devastating season of not meeting expectations, numerous injuries, getting swept in the first round and months of wondering what Howard will do only to have him leave the Lakers in disarray, we all want and need to move on.


You can reach me at the my Twitter handle, @fullcourtfern, to discuss this article, anything Lakers or NBA related, or if  you want to invite me to go grab a beer somewhere in L.A. You’re paying of course. 

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Tags: Dwight Howard Los Angeles Lakers

  • Qing Zhang

    My only question to the Lakers FO is that why there is no reaction at all on how to handle this Howard trade, it looks like they are just gonna have him work. Get some picks, seriously.

    • Fern Rea


      Get picks, some of their young talent and/or at least the trade exception that can be used within 1 year and split up amongst multiple players or go all to 1.

      I believe in the end that the Lakers will agree to sign and trade, even if all they get in return is that trade exception, but i am hoping they can get a little more.

  • Ron

    Great article .. Trade dwight and metta for Terrence jones and dontas and Canaan would be great.. Gives lakers cheap depth and they can decline options on players if they don’t pan out… I have serious concerns about the cap space and filling out the roster with free agents …

    • Fern Rea

      Getting all of them would be unlikely but if the Rockets fall just short of offering Dwight a max deal or want to pursue other free agents out there for more than the minimum it would open the door for the Lakers to get something, at the very least a massive trade exception.

  • Matthew W. Washington

    Misinformed article.

    After the Royce White trade to the 76er, the Rockets have the ability to sign Dwight to his max without the need of a sign and trade. You aren’t getting Terrence Jones. Donuts, Greg Smith, picks, nor are you getting a trade exception.

    You lost Dwight for nothing.

    • Fern Rea

      That might be true but without the official cap figures coming out it is still not confirmed.


      the Rockets might want to sign other free agents out there that are not open to taking a minimum salary, say Carlos Delfino or JJ Hickson for example.

      Also, the Rockets might just not want to pay more than minimum salaries for a guy like Jones or Donatas who arent going to get playing time.

      As of my last calculation, using the projected cap figure of 58.5, the Rockets are going to just short of offering Dwight a max deal, it would behoove them to sign and trade with the Lakers. If the figure comes in lower, they are going to need help for sure.

      And no trades or signings can become official until July 10th so any rumors out there of trades to clear cap space can be either false or fall through.

      Sign and trade with the Houston Rockets is still very possible.

      • Matthew W. Washington

        Not according to the Rockets GM, who said they aren’t going to S&T with the Lakers, just signing him outright instead.

        If they are ‘just short’, they will simply cut James Anderson and Ohlbrecht, neither player will have any cap hit if cut.

        • Fern Rea

          Thats barely a million 1/2 dollars free’d up….say Defino wants to return buts wants 3 mill minimum…or Corey Brewer…or JJ Hickson

          What if the 76ers say hey this Royce White guy is a wacko ..we arent taking him after all

          And GMs say a lot of things. I trust their word like that of a used car salesman trying to sell me that underbody protection

          Cleveland said they wouldnt sign and trade Lebron James…you know what happened? They signed and traded him to Miami.

          Until Dwight signs outright with Houston on July 10th, a S&T is still possible.

          • Matthew W. Washington

            James Anderson gets paid a little over 900k. Ohlbrecht gets paid a little under 800k. That would be enough if all the salary information out there is right.

            If Delfino wants to return and wants 3 million, he can still sign under the Rockets 6 million mid level exception. That’s how the Heat signed players like Ray Allen and Shane Battier. Same with Cory Brewer.

            The 76er GM is the former assistant GM of the Rockets. He is high on Royce White, and considering he is also getting a 2nd round pick and an international prospect that he personally picked, I doubt he will say ‘we aren’t taking him after all.’

            As far as you Cleveland example- Different CBA. LeBron did that to get extra years. Cavs did that to get Heat picks and a trade exception. You can no longer get extra years in a sign and trade, so Howard has no reason to pressure the Rockets into it so he can get more years.

            As far as it is still possible goes ‘So you’re saying there’s a chance’ comes to mind.

          • Fern Rea

            Youre right about everything except the 5 million dollar exception. The Rockets need to renounce that in order to free up the cap space to sign Dwight, otherwise it gets counted against them in the form of a cap hold.

            They can only offer up minimum contracts to players, and is why they only offered that up to Garcia and Caspi.

            And yes it is starting to look bleaker and bleaker but there is hope despite your insistence to dash them that the Lakers get something. Even if just a trade exception.

            I have this 5 year old kid that lost his dog and we told him his dog went off to Doggy college and will return when want to dash his hopes too and say his dog got run over by the garbage truck? Youre on roll.