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NBA PM: Lakers Considering Howard Trade
Posted By Alex Kennedy On February 19, 2013 @ 5:00 pm In Main Page,NBA | No Comments
Another trade deadline, another slew of rumors involving Dwight Howard.
For the second year in a row, Howard’s future is up in the air at the deadline and everyone around the league is curious to see what happens next with the superstar center. This time, Howard is in a large market with a star-studded supporting cast, just as he wanted. However, he’s just as unhappy in Los Angeles as he was when he was the big fish in a small pond in Orlando.
Even though Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak has assured Howard that he won’t be traded before the Feb. 21 deadline, rival executives believe the 27-year-old may still be moved. The Lakers have fielded calls for Howard and are keeping their options open. Multiple league sources believe that Kupchak is assuring Howard that he won’t traded just in case the team decides not to pull the trigger on a deal. If Howard is still on the roster on Feb. 22, the Lakers don’t want him knowing that they listened to offers for him because that could hurt their chances of re-signing the center this offseason.
While the Lakers have shot down some rumors involving Howard – such as the rumored deal for Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics – nobody around the league would be surprised if a Howard trade gets completed before 3 p.m. ET on Thursday. The Lakers understand that Howard is unhappy in Los Angeles – he has butted heads with Kobe Bryant, grown tired of Mike D’Antoni and felt that the organization hasn’t supported him at times – which is why a Howard deal can’t be ruled out. Sources say that Howard hasn’t asked for a trade and doesn’t plan to do so, but he wouldn’t be opposed to a deal.
Keep in mind, the Lakers aren’t thrilled with Howard either. He has made headlines for all of the wrong reasons this season, all while being a lightning rod of criticism and struggling on the court. Rather than taking the Chris Paul route and refusing to discuss his upcoming free agency, Howard has continuously offered sound bites about weighing his options this summer. Also, it wouldn’t be hard to sell a Howard trade to the Lakers fanbase, considering many have already turned on Howard and want him gone.
Right now, the Lakers can offer Howard the most money when he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer (which is the only reason L.A. is still somewhat optimistic that they can re-sign Howard despite this nightmare season). However, if Howard is traded before the deadline, his new team would now hold his Bird rights. The ability to offer Howard a fifth year and $30 million more is important, especially since Howard’s image has been destroyed and he can’t make that money up by signing lucrative endorsement deals like he could in the past.
The same three teams that have been eyeing Howard for quite some time have once again been mentioned as potential suitors. The Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets would like to trade for Howard rather than attempting to pursue him in free agency. Teams want the remainder of the season to sell Howard on their situation and they also want his Bird rights. Howard may not love Atlanta, Dallas or Houston, but does he dislike those situations enough to leave money and an extra year of security on the table? It’s unlikely, and these teams realize that. Howard’s preference would obviously be a trade to the Brooklyn Nets, but they don’t seem interested at this point in time.
There’s no guarantee that Howard will be traded, but there’s also no guarantee that he’ll remain in L.A. past Thursday, despite what the Lakers have said. When Howard joined the Lakers, he was hoping to put all of the drama from his final season with the Magic behind him. However, he’s part of an even bigger soap opera now, and another shocking twist on Thursday wouldn’t surprise anyone at this point.
UPDATE: Kupchak addressed the media this afternoon and said that he doesn’t foresee a blockbuster move, according to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times: “There’s not a way to upgrade the talent on this team. I don’t anticipate anything dramatic talking place in the next two days.”
Teams Keeping Flexibility for 2014 Free Agent Class
As teams weigh their trade options over the next two days, it’s important to realize that teams don’t want to take back long-term contracts that will jeopardize their flexibility during the summer of 2014.
Remember how teams positioned themselves to be players during the summer of 2010 because the free agent class was loaded with talent? The 2014 free agent class is star-studded as well and executives are already drooling at the list of players who could be available.
The 2014 free agent class could include Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Dirk Nowitzki, Amar’e Stoudemire, Chris Bosh, Pau Gasol, Paul Pierce, Danny Granger, Luol Deng, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and Andrew Bogut among others.
Bryant, Nowitzki, Granger, Deng, Pierce, Gasol and Bogut will be unrestricted free agents that summer. James, Wade, Anthony, Stoudemire, Bosh, Gay and Randolph have either a player option or early termination option, which means they can opt-out and become unrestricted free agents.
There will be a handful of talented restricted free agents as well including Paul George, John Wall, Eric Bledsoe, DeMarcus Cousins, Derrick Favors and Greg Monroe.
Teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic among others are all positioned to have a significant amount of flexibility in 2014 by design. There’s no doubt that these teams will want to preserve their 2014 cap space.
Monta Ellis May Be On the Move
The Milwaukee Bucks are gauging interest in shooting guard Monta Ellis in advance of the trade deadline, which isn’t a surprise considering he can exercise his Early Termination Option after this season to become an unrestricted free agent. Most people around the NBA expect Ellis to leave that final $11 million on the table to test free agency, and there’s no guarantee he’ll re-sign with Milwaukee.
Point guard Brandon Jennings will also be a free agent after this season, but he’ll be restricted so the Bucks can (and likely will) match any offer that he receives. That makes Ellis the more likely guard to be dealt, and several teams have already shown interest in the 27-year-old.
The Bucks have been very active in recent weeks, and have explored the possibility of trading Ellis. Milwaukee likes Josh Smith and there have been reports that the Hawks may be interested in taking back Ellis. The Bucks have explored the possibility of dealing Ellis and then acquiring another shooting guard, such as J.J. Redick of the Orlando Magic, in a second deal.
Some league sources believe Ellis is going to want to join a contender this summer because he’s tired of playing for losing teams. Ellis has only made the playoffs once in his career, and it was during the 2006-07 season when he was still coming off of the bench for the Golden State Warriors. He has had plenty of individual success and impressive statistics, but he wants to experience the postseason and have the opportunity to perform on the league’s big stage.
Milwaukee missed the playoffs last year and currently holds the eighth seed in the East. If it’s true that Ellis wants to join a contender, he may be eyeing greener pastures, which is why the Bucks have to consider cashing him in now rather than risk losing him for nothing this summer as a free agent.
Steve Kyler Talks Deadline
HOOPSWORLD’s Steve Kyler discusses some of the players who could be on the move before the deadline:
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