Lakers Knew the Risk of Acquiring Dwight Who Never Wanted to be in L.A.

Feb 27, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak attends the NCAA basketball game between the Arizona Wildcats and the Southern California Trojans at the Galen Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

When the Lakers traded for Dwight Howard, and in the process giving up their most valuable trade chip at the time of Andrew Bynum to get him, the message from the Dwight Howard camp was clear, he didn’t want to come to Los Angeles.

 

Howard’s preference at that time was to go to the then New Jersey Nets and team up with Deron Williams. Howard was adamant about getting to the Nets but if there was a second option it was the Dallas Mavericks not the Lakers.

 

The Lakers were persistent in their pursuit and with them dangling an attractive player like Bynum in trade, they were in the best position to net the most talent for the Orlando Magic in return. At some point Howard’s camp relented and were then open to coming to the Lakers. Why not since he knew he only had to endure it for one year before he became a free agent?

 

The Lakers’ brass heard the rumblings of Howard’s hesitancy of playing along side the alpha personality of Kobe Bryant and his apprehension of following in Shaquille O’ Neal’s footsteps.

 

The Howard camp made it clear to the Lakers, and any team that traded for him, that he was going to test the free agent market and not commit to any team before that.

 

The Lakers knew all of this and traded for him anyway, banking on the historical fact that no star in his prime leaves the Lakers. They thought who in their right mind would leave the Lakers. Why wouldn’t the Lakers be so confident?

 

The Lakers have a long history of getting the star that they want.

 

A 28 year old Kareem Abdul Jabber forced a trade to the Lakers. Kareem along with Magic go on to win 5 NBA championships in the 80s.

 

Shaquille O’ Neal turned down more money from the Orlando Magic to sign with the Lakers as a free agent. Together with a young Kobe Bryant they go on to win 3 straight NBA titles.

 

When Kobe entered free agency, he flirted a little with the likes of the Clippers, but ultimately returned and helped the Lakers win 2 more championships.

 

The Lakers put their 16 championships, litany of Hall of Fame jerseys hanging from the rafters, 3 billion dollar exclusive TV rights deals and Hollywood connections on the table. Dwight Howard not impressed, folded, took his chips and went home to Houston.

 

The Lakers franchise is now in complete disarray with Howard leaving. Howard, their only young ascending star now gone, their roster is filled with aging players that are either coming off an injury or highly susceptible to one.

 

As the Lakers wait for their heads to stop spinning in disbelief from Howard’s departure, the next available free agents are coming off the boards quickly, leaving scraps such as Carlos Delfino, Andrei Kirilenko and Corey Brewer to help fill out a suddenly very thin roster.

 

Their search for the next superstar to carry the torch will be a long, painful and tiring one.

 

The much talked about cap space that the Lakers will have in 2014 where they can potentially get a star like a Lebron James or Carmelo Anthony is a pipe dream. The search for their next star will likely extend to 2015 and beyond.

 

If not for the Lakers’ hubris, they would have listened to the warning signs to stay away from the quirky minded Howard and could have cashed in on the Bynum chip for some other talent that actually would want to be a Laker, you know like most NBA players.

 

They didn’t listen. Howard is now gone and they only have themselves to blame.

 

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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Topics: Decision, Dwight Howard, Free Agent, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA

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  • Samuel Thompson

    U win some and u lose some

    • Fern Rea

      It hurts so bad when you lose though.

      • Luis Garcia

        howard’s a clown. glad he’s gone.

  • Jim213

    With regards to DH, I believe management was overly confident in believing that they could retain Dwight thus didn’t want to trade him given their belief of “hey who wouldn’t want to play for us.” Management should’ve traded DH ahead of the deadline as in the end they should’ve recognized that DH came to the Lakers with the assumption that management would bring Phil Jackson back.

    It’ll likely never happen with Jim Bust, thus we’ve known this given the past season, however management still believed that they could’ve enticed DH with $$$ to get him to stay in LA. Don’t know what type of work ethics they teach in Orlando but the Kobe/DH combo/chemistry wouldn’t have worked out given DH’s lack of work ethic and drive. Sure DH is one of the best center’s but that doesn’t guarantee that he’d fit into any roster, I’m glad he left… but the sad part is that management didn’t appear to have had a plan B. Unless plan a and b constituted acquiring DH at all costs. Should’ve saved their money on advertising and traded him before the trade deadline.

    Thus, management seems to want to wait until 2014 to acquire talent instead of focusing on team depth now to help Kobe aside from acquiring solid players to put a competitive team on the floor. (still time). Just as DH, management probably believes that Kobe will resign with the team just b/c of the history. Although he injured his foot, Kobe intends to compete at 110%. With this said if the Lakers don’t attain some depth today come 2014 I don’t know if Kobe would want to play in a non competitive team. Playing with the Clipps, Bulls, is more likely as well as the Warriors given J West current role there at Golden State aside of their current roster.

    It’ll be a challenge to attract any future star to LA aside of Kobe without having any team depth or clear plan for the future. However, with some of the latest possible re-acquisitions ex. Lamar and other past players there would still be hope to build for the future while likely making the playoffs as a lower top seed. This would also help to retain Kobe given that team chemistry is important for any type of team success. Build team depth now with SOLID PLAYERS, no tanking, keep Kobe informed of the future plans for 2014 and who they plan to pursue though I would only really try to acquire Lebron instead of Carmelo. But that should be plan c given that it would be a big IF…

    Plan A and B should focus on acquiring solid youthful players to increase the odds of having a successful future. Although, I always wanted proven players it would be a CHALLENGE BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE to acquire a solid point guard like R Rondo (proven player). Trade Gasol given that management should’ve realized that Gasol played his best under the triangle offense and given these past few seasons hasn’t risento even being a reliable second scorer for the Lakers.

    Why tank?! Like many tard analysts believe…?! it would do more harm as the lottery doesn’t guarantee one specific franchise will get the overall #1 pick. It may also set the team back a decade given the lack of depth and player acquisitions that’s required today to attract star players who want to win rings. Sure the best players want to compete but what player doesn’t want to leave their own legacy.. it’s about EGO’s.

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