Los Angeles’ two most notable basketball teams have been in the news a lot over the past 12 months, but the headlines haven’t amounted to much on-the-court success. The Clippers, coming off their best regular season in franchise history, choked in the playoffs against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Lakers, after acquiring two additional future Hall of Famers to pair up with the two future Hall of Famers already on their roster, put together one of the most embarrassing NBA seasons in recent memory.
To make matters worse, both the Clippers and Lakers are currently facing a lot of uncertainty regarding their marquee stars. Chris Paul and Dwight Howard have expressed varying levels of dissatisfaction with their franchises over the past few months, opening the door for a lot of gossip and speculation regarding what comes next.
On Monday, ESPN reported that Paul and Howard have been in “consistent contact” about potentially playing together next year.
"They would love to play together if somebody can make it happen," sources told Chris Broussard.
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Although the Atlanta Hawks have been mentioned as a possible landing spot for both men over the past two or so years, despite that squad's attempts at saving money for a couple of max-level players, it’s unlikely that either one will actually want to play there. Unfortunately, if both players don’t opt to leave Los Angeles, their options as far as teaming up are relatively limited.
That’s where baseless rumors come into play. According to the latest speculation that’s been floating around the web over the past 24 hours, the Clippers and Lakers are supposedly considering a deal that would send Blake Griffin and Eric Bledsoe to the Lakers in return for Howard.
Now, before proceeding, let’s remember – nobody has actually said that this is even mildly feasible. This is something that was created online, has been spread online and will die online. Since a lot of people are taking it seriously, though, it’s worth addressing.
The Lakers have made it abundantly clear that the only two options they’re realistically considering right now as it pertains to Howard is a.) trying to re-sign him or b.) letting him walk.
“Sign-and-trade” is omitted from that list on purpose.
Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss don’t want to send Howard anywhere in return for more massive contracts. Currently the team is over the luxury tax; however, that’s a temporary inconvenience. Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol are entering the final year of their deals and are scheduled to make nearly $50 million. Steve Nash comes off the books next season. Metta World Peace, most likely, will be be amnestied in the not-too-distant future.
What does all that mean? It means that, for the brouhaha about how far over the cap the Lakers are, management has actually put this franchise in perfect position to sign multiple superstars in two years. The idea that all involved would throw that away simple because they “don’t want to lose Howard without getting anything in return,” which appears to be the main rationale behind them pulling the trigger on an ill-advised sign-and-trade, is nonsense.
“Either the Lakers sign Howard or they will get cap space for 2014,” an executive with a Western Conference team recently told the Los Angeles Times.
Moreover, there is a reason the Lakers and Clippers aren’t regularly discussed as trade partners: they share the same city, building and TV market. If there is an even reasonable better alternative, it’s in both teams’ interests to not help the other out in any possible way.
The main difference between this proposed deal and the Doc Rivers/Kevin Garnett one is that this one makes no sense. The Boston Celtics are eager to trade Rivers and Garnett because both are gone if the deal doesn’t get done. This way, they get something in return. In the Griffin/Howard trade, the same doesn’t hold true.
Bottom line: Not. Going. To. Happen.