Lakers Trade Rumors: L.A. Must Free Dwight Howard Before Someone Else Does

Matt Shetler@@buccos12Correspondent IJuly 13, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 28:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic walks to the bench after a turnover to the Atlanta Hawks during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on April 28, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

"Free at last. Free at last."

That's what Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard has been waiting to scream out loud for about a year now. His words wouldn't exactly have the same impact as those screamed by Martin Luther King, but Howard has foolishly tried to make himself look just as important throughout this entire saga.

Mitch Kupchak and the Los Angeles Lakers can do something about that, but they must free Howard before someone else does.

While they're at it, they can free us all from the drama that Howard has created for the past 12 months.

The Lakers have been tied to Howard on and off throughout the past year and look to be one of the top teams remaining that could land Howard in a deal.

While the Lakers already have Andrew Bynum in place, he remains the top trade chip out there for Howard. If the Lakers truly want to "go for it" the next three years, they need to do what it takes to get Howard in purple and gold.

A lineup of Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard screams multiple championships.

So that means if the Lakers need to take back a couple of bad contracts, they need to find a way to do that.

If they need to get one or two other teams involved to generate draft picks, that's what they need to do.

If they don't, they will sit back and watch someone else free Howard. Their most notable competition, the Houston Rockets, have a huge offer on the table in an attempt to acquire Howard, as ESPN reports.

Sources told ESPN.com that the Rockets, if they go ahead with their widely reported plans to release starting power forward Luis Scola via the NBA's amnesty clause, are prepared to absorb the contracts of Jason Richardson, Glen Davis and Chris Duhon -- in addition to sending Orlando multiple future first-round picks and recent draftees.

That deal could be tough to match, and the Lakers could end up sitting back and watching Howard land with another Western Conference team.

If they don't act quickly on Howard, the Rockets' offer will look better by the day.

However, if Howard is the goal for Kupchak, he must act quickly.

If he does, the Lakers are definite championship contenders, and Kupchak will be loved around the world for putting an end to the madness and the drama surrounding Howard.

All joking aside, Howard is likely to be dealt soon and will be "free at last."

Kupchak just needs to make sure he's screaming that on his way to Los Angeles and not Houston.