The Lakers ideally would like to re-sign Dwight Howard. It could happen. Howard is off in his hideaway in Aspen with his advisors around him trying to come to a decision, and by all accounts the Lakers pitch that turned into a “clear the air” kind of meeting with Mike D’Antoni, Kobe Bryant and Howard finally got everybody on the same page. The Lakers still have advantages —the lure of Los Angeles, cap space next year to rework the roster, and $30 million more guaranteed.
But if Howard decides to head to Houston or another market, the Lakers may be softening on their hardline opposition to a sign-and-trade with another team. That according to Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne at ESPNLosAngeles.com.
Yet, there were indications late Thursday that Lakers officials, already bracing for the worst, had begun to rethink their long-held position of ruling out sign-and-trade options in the event Howard decides to bolt to one of L.A.’s rivals.
One source briefed on the Lakers’ thinking told ESPN.com that, if the extra fifth year and nearly $30 million they can offer Howard isn’t enough to hold off the competition, they would be forced to “look at everything.”
The report also says the Lakers are increasingly pessimistic that Howard will re-sign with them.
Which means the Lakers may look at a deal, but it is going to have to blow their doors off. Letting him walk and banking the cap space has some advantages for Los Angeles.
The Lakers had the highest payroll in the NBA last season and under the new CBA Los Angeles will start to pay an additional repeater tax in 2015 if they don’t get their salary down. And the Lakers don’t want to increase their tax bill. Nobody does.
Which means the Lakers don’t want your long-term bad contracts, they want to rebuild and you need to give them pieces to do that.
The Lakers would be silly not to explore all their the options. It’s hard to say what the Lakers will do — as much as Howard and his decision making process is hard to predict, so have been the Lakers under Jim Buss.