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Dwight Howard “Unlikely To Re-sign” With Lakers
Posted By Jabari Davis On June 27, 2013 @ 2:36 pm In NBA | No Comments
Since the moment the season came to an anti-climactic end, Los Angeles Lakers fans have been wondering about the future of free agent center Dwight Howard. Yesterday, amid rumors of his uncertainty about re-signing, the Lakers embarked upon a billboard and media campaign (an unprecedented move for the organization) in order to trigger Howard’s belief in the franchise’s commitment toward him. Criticized by fans, while receiving mixed reviews from members of the media, the Lakers are clearly attempting to publicly reinforce their desire to retain the services of a man general manager Mitch Kupchak has described as “the future of the franchise” on several occasions.
This morning, ESPN’s Chris Broussard reported that Howard is “unlikely to re-sign” with the organization, stemming from his desire to play in a system better suited to his skill set. While Broussard mentioned head coach Mike D’Antoni and Kobe Bryant by name, there are also reports that Howard has no personal issue with either of the two. It is thought that Howard actually prefers an opportunity where he not only has more organizational influence, but can also be the featured player within the team.
With plenty of speculation about D’Antoni being the actual breaking point of possible negotiations, there are some within the Lakers organization that have doubts on whether a new coach would actually be enough to appease Howard. We’ve also been reminded of the circumstances surrounding Howard’s exodus from Orlando. The Magic eventually fired head coach Stan Van Gundy following the 2011-12 season, only to have Howard still request a trade that summer. That, aside from the fact that D’Antoni is entering just the second season of a three-year deal (team option for potential fourth year), would seemingly explain the franchise’s reluctance to bend to the apparent demands.
Contrary to the rumors of the Dallas Mavericks emerging as an attractive destination, if the 6’11 big man determines he is truly better off moving on, the most likely suitor remains the Houston Rockets. It should be noted that the Lakers could offer Howard a five-year deal worth $118 million, while another team can only offer a four-year deal worth $88 million by comparison. Regardless of where Dwight goes, if he chooses to leave the Lakers the latest CBA only permits Howard to receive a four-year deal. It isn’t known whether the Lakers (or Howard) would agree to a sign-and-trade with a suitor of his choice, but the difference in potential pay is so significant that conventional wisdom would point to Howard actually preferring this opportunity.
At that point, the ball would be in the Lakers’ court, as they would have to choose between an abundance of cap space (2014-15) or to engage a third team into any potential deal in order to accumulate as many assets as possible in return. Again, the organization remains intent upon building around Howard, but if he is resolute in his decision to leave this could be an opportunity to address the team’s lack of youth and athleticism with several parts in return for the league’s most physically gifted big man. If Howard were to simply walk, the Lakers would conceivably have just Steve Nash under contract ($9.7 million) in the final year of his deal for the 2014-15 season.
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