This past summer, the Los Angeles Lakers put together a group that on paper looked like it would roll everyone and anyone that crossed its path.
There was the starting lineup comprised of four future Hall of Famers. There was the much improved bench, featuring presumed offensive spark plug Antawn Jamison; three-point specialist -- in theory -- Jodie Meeks; veteran backup point guard presence Steve Blake; and underrated rebounder/defender Jordan Hill.
On paper, this group made all the sense in the world. Heck, even the firing of Mike Brown and hiring of Mike D’Antoni seemed moderately reasonable, if you bought into the idea that Howard was a much better, defensively-capable version of Amar’e Stoudemire.
And yet, for whatever reason, this experiment just hasn’t worked. Despite everyone’s seemingly good intentions and an embarrassment of riches in terms of individual talent, this year’s Lakers team may go down as the biggest flop in sports history. Sure, they've won two straight – including a somewhat solid victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday. But that hardly washes away everything else that’s transpired over the past few months. This team still needs a miracle to even make the postseason; winning a championship seems like a laughable prospect now.
Given how woeful L.A. has been so far and the role that Howard has played in that woefulness, it is understandable that folks would begin to wonder about his future with the team. After all, he is going to be a free agent this summer, and while he is expected to stay in Tinseltown, as the Orlando Magic can attest to, with Dwight Howard there are no guarantees.
Last week, an interesting rumor hit the web by way of one of the foremost authorities on all things DH12 – Real GM’s Jarrod Rudolph. While a lot of traditional media outlets seem reluctant to acknowledge this dude for what he is, here are the facts: nobody outside of Woj was up on the latest and most breaking news pertaining to Howard like Rudolph was last summer. He is an insider. His information, whether it eventually comes to fruition or not, is based on facts.
Here is what Rudolph reported last week:
According to sources, King was planning to contact the Minnesota Timberwolves in order to gauge their interest in a three-team trade that would send Kevin Love to the Lakers, Brook Lopez to the Timberwolves and Dwight Howard to the Nets. Other small pieces would need to be included, but the proposed trade was thought to be intriguing enough to start conversations in the Lakers front office that would force them to deal with Howard earlier than planned.
Now, before proceeding, it’s important to note that this rumor was instantly dismissed by the web’s foremost authority on all things Brooklyn Nets. Per Nets Daily:
In an email, received minutes after NetsDaily reported on the rumor, the source wrote, "Total BS, Jarrod What ever His Name Is just fabricated a story." The response was extraordinary and unprecedented in its speed and aggressiveness.
Later, a second Nets source said simply of the report, "Not true."
The bizarre vitriol notwithstanding, Rudolph’s suggestion actually makes a lot of sense. The big names involved automatically make any and all deals involved sound unrealistic – but that’s a really amateur way of looking at this. Something being unlikely isn’t the same thing as it being unrealistic. Yes, highly-paid big names are hard to move; no they aren’t impossible to move. Did anyone see Steve Nash landing with the Lakers prior to this summer? Did anyone see the Pau Gasol trade happening before it happened? What about the Nets’ acquisition of Joe Johnson, who was whispering about that prior to the deal going down?
This trade sort of makes sense. Really, it’s contingent on how much the Timberwolves value Brook Lopez. It’s no secret that they covet Gasol and want to pair him with their little Spanish point guard, however, it remains to be seen if they respect Lopez’s skills in that way. Kevin Love’s displeasure with his squad is a matter of public record. Ditto with Howard’s apparent unhappiness with the Lakers. The deal works on both of those ends. It really would all come down to whether or not Minnesota wants Lopez.
Will this happen? Probably not, as is the case with most big deals. Did Billy King at least make calls to see if it was possible? Most likely, yeah.