The decision that Dwight Howard makes in free agency, which begins on July 1, will affect more than just the immediate future of the Los Angeles Lakers. What the Lakers’ front office will be able to do in the years to come will be impacted on Dwight’s decision to re-sign with the sixteen-time champions or leave and sign elsewhere.
While there has been no real clear indication of what will happen in free agency, the fact remains that the Lakers are fully committed in keeping Dwight in purple and gold. Because of the uncertainty, there has been talk of the potential of the Lakers doing a sign-and-trade with Dwight if he tells the Lakers that he is set on leaving. The rumor of the Clippers offering Blake Griffin and Eric Bledsoe in a sign-and-trade for Dwight only fueled the talk.
Due to the new CBA rules, the Lakers can’t receive a player in a sign-and-trade because of their cap position. However, the Lakers are legally allowed to sign-and-trade Howard to another team. Essentially, it’s the acquiring of a player that is banned for teams above the tax apron, such as the Lakers.
Lakers Nation asked some of our writers: If Dwight Howard informed the Lakers he was set on walking, should the Lakers deal Howard in a sign-and-trade? Here’s what they had to say:
Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): The Los Angeles Lakers are the verge of a potentially drastic change and an unprecedented event with a superstar possibly leaving the team in free agency next month. Dwight Howard has given no indication whether or not he intends on staying or going, leaving the Lakers’ front office in a difficult position moving forward.
At this point in time, it’d be safe to say Dwight is more than likely going to leave the team as a free agent regardless of the $30 million he’ll leave on the table in Los Angeles. The real question now is whether or not the Lakers should pull off a rumored sign-and-trade for Blake Griffin and Eric Bledsoe or keep the extra cap space as a result of Dwight leaving.
In my opinion, if the Lakers organization intends to win now and doesn’t want to go through another season filled with disappointment, the team must consider sign-and-trade options. The deal for Griffin and Bledsoe may be the best they can get for Dwight and the front office should seriously consider.
It’ll be interesting to see if any other sign-and-trade options emerge in the coming weeks. Doubtful any offer will top the Clippers’ current offer, though.
Daniel Buerge (@danielbuergeLA): I can say one thing with absolute certainty – the Lakers aren’t anticipating losing Dwight Howard. The front office still fully expects him to re-sign with the franchise long-term. But, assuming they’re wrong and he bolts for Texas (or one of several other supposed destinations), agreeing to a sign-and-trade is tricky for the Lakers. On one hand, you want to get something in return for the league’s best center. On the other, you don’t want to mortgage your future by possibly interfering with your 2014 offseason plans.
Personally, if I were Mitch Kupchak I would decline the sign-and-trade possibilities for several reasons. First, if Dwight’s going to walk, make it abundantly clear that he’s leaving $30 million in Los Angeles. Don’t allow him to get that extra cash and still head out the door. Second, you still have the option to make a big splash in 2014 when the rest of the team (other than Nash) comes off the books. I know there are pipe dreams of a LeBron in Los Angeles scenario, but even though that’s not happening, the team will have a chance to build for the future with a virtually clean slate.
So that’s my take. If he wants to leave, let him leave. Next season will be tough, but mortgaging long-term, sustained success for someone like Chandler Parsons isn’t the type of decision that has won the Lakers 16 championships. No offense, Chandler Parsons.
Elizabeth Benson (@gobibs): Regardless of all the news, reports and rumors that surrounds Dwight Howard and his impending free agency, there is no doubt in my mind that re-signing the three-time Defensive Player of the Year is first and foremost priority for the Lakers this offseason. With that said, there is a real possibility that Howard will opt to sign with another team besides the Lakers.
While I certainly understand the notion of dealing Dwight in a sign-and-trade if he is set on leaving the Lakers, I do not see the Lakers jeopardizing the massive potential that they will have in the 2014 offseason due to their rather clean books they will have then, as they would only have Steve Nash’s contract on their payroll.
If Dwight leaves the Lakers this summer, it will be a difficult concept to accept that the Lakers didn’t get any value in return if they let him simply walk. However, unless the Lakers would be receiving contract players that they were planning on going after in 2014, I just do not see them disrupting their future plans for the summer of 2014. This doesn’t mean that they won’t look at proposals, because they will.
Remember, if Dwight leaves and the Lakers let him walk, the Lakers would save nearly $50 million in salary and luxury tax savings. That is additional money to spend on 2014 free agents that include LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George.
Ross Gasmer (@Ross_Gasmer12): The Lakers aren’t able to sign-and-trade for any impending free agents, and I think that that will make general manager Mitch Kupchak second-guess that idea.
With the summer of 2014 looming and arguably more important than this summer, there’s no need to panic and make sure pieces come back in return if Dwight Howard is inclined to leave the Lakers.
It’s almost certain that the Lakers wouldn’t be able to get a player or players that match Howard’s abilities and a team wouldn’t trade their core players to get Howard.
For example, the Rockets are trying to land Howard to pair with Chandler Parsons and the young Houston core, not trade them to get Howard.
If Howard does walk, save the cap space for 2014 and go at next season with Pau at center and maybe sign some periphery talent to make the team competitive. Kobe’s already made it abundantly clear that he’s interested in chasing a sixth or seventh ring, so there’s no reason to panic if Howard does leave.
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