Over the last 24 hours or so, the Los Angeles Lakers have quietly emerged as the new favorites to acquire Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic.
From the very beginning, no other team in the NBA could put together a package as handsome as the one L.A. could offer. Some combination of Andrew Bynum plus the promise to absorb a couple of Orlando’s worst contracts would’ve sealed the deal on the Magic’s end a long time ago. The sticking point, since last year, has been the Lakers’ reluctance to part ways with their beloved young All-Star center – Andrew Bynum.
While reports on this subject have admittedly conflicted in the past, it appears as though L.A. never actually offered a Bynum-for-Howard swap. It was always a Gasol-for-Howard proposition, plus the promise to absorb bad salaries.
Well, it appears as though Jim Buss and Co. are finally willing to go all in. Via Jarrod Rudolph of RealGM:
Source: Lakers are prepared to offer the Andrew Bynum and Metta World Peace to the Magic for Dwight Howard provided Howard signs extension— Jarrod N Rudolph (@JRudolphSports) July 3, 2012
Any deal with Lakers for Dwight that includes Bynum -- i.e. the only such deal Orlando would consider -- contingent on commitment from D12.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) July 3, 2012
And of course, Howard has already come out and publicly stated that he will not sign an extension with any team other than the Brooklyn Nets.
So where does that leave us? It leaves us exactly where we started.
Nobody in the league -- not the Nets, not the Houston Rockets, not the Atlanta Hawks -- can offer anything even remotely as appealing as Bynum. He’s just too good.
That means this decision ultimately falls squarely on Jim Buss’ shoulders. Either he’s willing to give up his pet project center for a legitimate future Hall of Famer who may or may not re-sign next year, or he isn’t.
But if he isn’t, he’s going to have a hard time explaining to Kobe Bryant why he’s never going to win a sixth championship.
Note: And make sure to tune in to The Bottom Line Sports Show as they discuss all the latest NBA rumors and trade gossip. Plus, check them out on July 26 when Nas (yes, that one) stops by for an interview.