Dwight Howard Needs Lakers As Much As Lakers Need Dwight Howard

Dwight HowardSo Dwight Howard sets his sights on Texas–the perfect choice in a career of looking for love in too many places.

Oh, he’s still here?

Oh, right, he just started taking presentations, with the huge Rockets’ delegation going first Sunday night at 9 p.m., the moment Dwight officially became a free agent. Of course, the batting order means nothing, which should reassure Laker fans as much as anything Dwight has ever said. Yes, after a two-year vaudeville act of a run-up, in which he messed up every team he played for and tried to go to, he’s free!

Remember when there was no downside to being a free agent?

No less than LeBron James discovered that was no longer true after announcing his decision via ESPN’S TV Special From Hell. If Dwight now looks like he’s leaning toward leaving to observers across the board, there’s one thing he hasn’t figured out. He’s about to go from dufus to outright laughingstock if he bails on the storied Lakers and leaves $30 million on the table without closing in on that elusive title with James Harden and a Rocket team that will have to be reconfigured—Omer Asik, anyone? Or Dirk Nowitzki and whoever’s left after the Mavs dump Shawn Marion, Vince Carter or Roddy Beaubois to max Dwight out.

Dwight being Dwight, he’s not really leaving because of Mike D’Antoni, or Kobe Bryant, or titles, but something far more important to him.


Dwight didn’t like D’Antoni’s offense, but he didn’t like Stan Van Gundy’s that got him into the playoffs for the first time in his four-year career, either. If Kobe was a tad stern for Dwight’s taste, they worked it out. And forget winning titles, which is what Dwight thinks he wants, even if he’s still looking for that right team, coach and No. 2 option.

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Dwight wants to be loved, which, to him, means everyone laughing at his jokes, his Superman schtick, his imitations and understanding if he can’t run run pick-and-rolls with Steve Nash, make free throws or act like he wants to be here from his first Laker press conference.

In other words, he wants to be treated the way he was in Orlando, where, wrote Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi, fans would snarl if the press said bad things about “our Dwight in shining armor.”

Unfortunately, Dwight didn’t realize what he had. Instead, he did what big guys are supposed to do, become a free agent and watch everyone go into a tizzy trying to win his heart.

The first year of tizzy saw Dwight try to get the Magic to trade him to Brooklyn, then renounced his opt-out clause that would have allowed him to sign with the Nets last summer, then try to persuade the Magic to trade him there anyway.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers-Press ConferenceYear two brought Dwight to the Lakers, destination of choice for great centers from Wilt (who won one title with them), to Kareem (five), to Shaq (three).

This wasn’t like that. Instead, Dwight painted himself in a corner, turning off Laker fans, so that now he’s reluctant to stay where he’s not loved.

To get the sour grapes off the table, even if the odds against staying seem to be climbing, the Lakers want him back, and should. You win with great players. Plural. For all he lacks tangibly and intangibly, 6-10, 275—pound athletic prodigies don’t grow on trees, and are handy in recruiting more greats.

On the other hand, the Lakers are happy with their fallback position–$55 million in cap room in 2014.

That means no sign-and-trades for players whose contracts go beyond next season, unless they’re big star players. The Lakers will consider S&T’s for comers on the rookie scale, expiring contracts and/or No. 1 pick(s).

So, if Golden State offered rookie Harrison Barnes, second-year Klay Thompson or expiring Andrew Bogut, the Lakers might think about it.

In bad news for Dwight, I think the Warriors would disband first.

Twitterverse faves with the Lakers taking multi-year deals like that of Asik and Jeremy Lin are non-starters.

Howard’s reputation has already taken a hit. The New York Daily News’ Mitch Lawrence just congratulated the Nets on getting Kevin Garnett at 37, noting he’d rather watch KG crawl up the floor than Brooklyn’s original hope, Dwight, do his to-be-or-not-to-be number.

Hopefully, ESPN won’t offer Dwight a 60-minute special to announce he’s taking his talents to Texas.

I take that back. If he’s going, let him go in style.


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