The Los Angeles Lakers will have a busy free agency period, and their top priority is to bring back center Dwight Howard.
Howard will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and the Lakers will do whatever it takes to keep him for the long run. However, there is growing concern that Howard will leave the Lakers this summer, with teams like the Houston Rockets and Atlanta Hawks rumored to be possible destinations.
The Rockets have enough cap space to spend on Howard this summer, but the team has bigger plans and is looking to add two superstars this summer.
According to ESPN, Houston will offer a sign-and-trade to the Lakers which will ship Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin to Los Angeles in exchange for Howard. As a result, the Rockets will be able to go after Chris Paul and put him alongside Howard and James Harden.
The threat of the James Harden-led Rockets signing Howard away from L.A. is very real to the Lakers, sources said, which means the Lakers will eventually be getting a sign-and-trade pitch from Houston as well. The Rockets will have the cap space to sign Howard outright after the expected shedding of Thomas Robinson’s contract, but sources say that the Rockets will certainly attempt to convince the Lakers to take in return Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin in a sign-and-trade deal for Howard, thus theoretically keeping alive the possibility that Houston could preserve its cap space to pursue Chris Paul and possibly pair Howard with Paul.
However, with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the NBA will severely punish those teams with a large salary cap. At this point, the Lakers will have a plethora of cap room for the summer of 2014, but that could all change if they take in multiple large contracts by conducting a sign-and-trade for Howard.
Lakers Nation wrote earlier that the team would rather have Howard walk rather than pull the trigger on a sign-and-trade because of the punitive luxury tax. Nevertheless, the team should look into possible deals such as the Asik-Lin one if they know the All-Star center will not remain in Los Angeles.
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