The Los Angeles Lakers currently boast a 25-29 record. While the All-Star break is typically viewed as a midpoint of sorts, the reality is that there are only 28 games remaining between now and the end of the year. As it stands, after initially being heralded as a team that could challenge the Chicago Bulls’ 72-10 mark, L.A. is ranked 10th in the West and appears destined to miss the playoffs.
For obvious reasons, everyone beginning with management and ending with fans is beginning to look past this season. 2013 is a lost cause; 2014 and beyond are still salvageable.
The most pressing issue facing the Lakers right now is Dwight Howard’s future. He will become a free agent this summer and there is absolutely no guarantee that he will re-sign with the team. Even though L.A. offers the most money and an ideal venue for the NBA’s best center (when he’s healthy) to call home, a disastrous first year may have turned Howard off. And if Lakers brass believed that there was a legitimate chance of losing Howard, the most logical move for all involved would obviously be trading him away before he left for nothing.
All of which explains why whispers of a Howard-for-Rajon Rondo swap began floating around this weekend. The idea that Boston and L.A. would help each other via a blockbuster trade seems ridiculous, but if the deal was deemed mutually beneficial, both franchises could sell it to their rabid fan bases.
On Saturday, Ken Berger of CBS Sports dropped this bombshell:
However, CBSSports.com has learned that the Lakers have engaged in preliminary trade discussions with an unlikely trade partner regarding Howard: their fierce rival, the Boston Celtics. The centerpieces of the possible deal, which hasn't gained any traction, would be Howard and Rajon Rondo…
…Other significant pieces would have to be involved, since Rondo's $11 million salary is substantially less than Howard's $19.5 million. If the Lakers dealt Howard for an All-Star point guard who is out for the rest of the season following ACL surgery, they'd effectively be throwing in the towel on this miserable, underachieving season and looking to next year.
While the big names involved in this deal obviously make it intriguing, it's important to remember that Rondo is down with an injury that could keep him out until next year’s All-Star break. The idea that the Lakers, who theoretically are still hoping to compete for a title next year, would trade for him seems a bit far-fetched.
Shortly after Berger’s report came out, Chris Broussard of ESPN came out and brushed it off.
I just spoke w/Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak about supposed D12-for-Rondo trade talks w/Celtics. He denied it strongly....
— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) February 16, 2013
This Rondo deal won’t happen, but it’s clear that (regardless of what Kupchak says) L.A. hasn’t shut the door on trading Howard just yet. If they can get equal value (big if), there is definitely a chance they will move their disgruntled big man.