The Los Angeles Lakers always find themselves at the center of gossip and speculation, even when they win. Coming off a disappointing 45-37 campaign in which they had more head coaches than postseason victories, the franchise has practically been begging for writers and analysts to write columns on how to bring a title back to LA.
Over the past few days, a number of reports have noted that there is a chance the Lakers and Clippers will agree on a trade that’d send Dwight Howard to the Clippers in exchange for Eric Bledsoe and Blake Griffin. The logic behind the move, if you want to call speculative nonsense logic, is that Howard wants a change of scenery and Chris Paul wants to play with Howard more than he does with Griffin. Thus, a minor swap will make everyone happy.
Spoiler: It won't.
This deal won’t happen for a multitude of reasons. First and foremost, as noted by ESPN: “The Lakers have had several discussions with Howard's representatives over the past few weeks and remain confident that they will ultimately keep him with the franchise, even as he's made it clear he will entertain other suitors.”
Translation: Just because Howard has said that he’ll test out his options, that doesn’t mean it’s a lock he’ll leave the Lakers. There are essentially two teams he’s interested in playing for besides the one that can offer him the most money of any ballclub: the Houston Rockets and Brooklyn Nets. The latter doesn’t have the necessary cap space to sign him. That leaves just the former.
How do the Lakers feel about battling Houston for Howard’s services?
“Either the Lakers sign Howard or they will get cap space for 2014,” said an executive with a Western Conference team in a conversation with the Los Angeles Times.
That makes far more sense than the Lakers trading Howard away. If their big man walks, L.A. can go into next season with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash on the roster. Bryant and Gasol, who will make slightly less than $50 million next year, are both in the final year of their contracts. Nash’s $9.7 million is off the books one season later. If Howard leaves, the Lakers can just eat a couple of mediocre seasons, then free themselves to sign multiple max-level free agents the following year.
Putting the strategic benefits of either re-signing Howard or letting him walk to Houston aside for a moment, though, let’s not understate the sheer ridiculousness of handing over a bonafide superstar to a franchise that plays in your building. The Lakers compete with exactly one team for all basketball-related income on Los Angeles – why would they improve that team when they have much better options than that the table?
NBA gossip and speculation is always fun to talk about, but don’t mistake the BS from the past week as anything more than what it is – nonsense.