Are the Los Angeles Lakers back in the Dwight Howard Sweepstakes?
Were they ever really out of them in the first place?
You’ll recall, last summer, all anyone within and around the Lakers organization could talk about was the possibility of landing Howard – a superstar center that brings all of the certainty and stability that Andrew Bynum probably never will. The dream was that you could pair up Kobe Bryant and Howard, and that the two would go on to have a Shaq-Kobe type of run that would serve as the perfect cherry atop Bryant’s career.
But then little technicalities started to get in the way of that dream.
First, Kobe came out and said that no matter who L.A. brought in, the team would still be his team. Then Bynum started to play exceptionally well, making many wonder if it was even worth it to swap him for Howard. And, of course, right around the trade deadline last year – Howard squashed the hopes and dreams of Lakers faithful everywhere when he made it clear -- via his emissaries in the media -- that he didn’t want to play alongside Kobe all that much.
That effectively took L.A. out of the Dwight Howard Sweepstakes. Or so we thought.
This past weekend, however, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports dropped a very interesting report on the world:
While the Lakers have yet to make a direct offer, there's no scenario where Orlando would move Howard to the Lakers without getting back Andrew Bynum, L.A.'s 24-year-old All-Star center. Pau Gasol wouldn't fit the Magic's desires to rebuild with young players and draft picks.
The Lakers had been willing to part with Bynum for Howard in March, but those talks ended when Howard decided to decline his early termination option and remain under contract through the 2012-13 season.
So, basically, the question then becomes: is Lakers brass confident enough in the city’s allure and its own persuasiveness to bring in Howard even though he won’t agree to a contract extension right off the bat?
That’s more or else the central issue that will decide whether or not Howard is coming because, as Woj pointed out in a later column…
Orlando Magic star Dwight Howard told Yahoo! Sports he will not re-sign with a team outside his preferred list that trades for him, and emphatically denied that he ever used the term "blackmail" to describe how Magic officials convinced him to waive his early termination option.
…Howard told Yahoo! by phone that, "There’s only one team on my list and if I don’t get traded there, I'll play the season out and explore my free agency after that."
That team, obviously, is the Brooklyn Nets. Are the Lakers feeling lucky enough to pull the trigger on this deal anyway? We’ll find out soon enough.
(Kudos Yahoo! Sports)