Dwight Howard Trade Rumors: Why D12 Is Destined to End Up with L.A. Lakers
Spears' report says that Los Angeles brass is meeting with Orlando today in hopes of striking a deal, but are now requiring a contract extension commitment from Howard.
Howard has balked at committing long-term to anywhere except Brooklyn, but the Nets are out of the picture after signing a four-year, $61 million contract with incumbent center Brook Lopez.
Word of the Lakers increased pursuit comes just four days after Houston Rockets general manager used the team's amnesty clause on forward Luis Scola so that he could sweeten Houston's youth-laden offer to the Magic, according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Chad Ford.
The Rockets new offer also included expiring contracts and the team taking Orlando's preferred combination of the Glen Davis, Hedo Turkoglu, Chris Duhon and Jason Richardson.
With that report, it became widely assumed that the Rockets had taken the pole position in the Howard chase. But there has been nary a peep regarding this offer since it hit the rumor mill.
And, with most reports saying that nothing is imminent on the Howard front and the Lakers needing a third team to play ball in a potential deal, it's looking as if this arduous process will drag fans even farther through the mud and yours truly farther down the bottle of Advil.
Regardless, the longer this process goes, the more it's starting to look like Howard will wind up joining Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles and here's why:
1. The Rockets Cannot Do Any Better Than Their Current Offer
The Rockets roster is filled with above-average to good talent, but no players on the roster have franchise-altering potential, hence their pursuit of Howard.
Morey is offering a combination of draft picks, young talent and expiring contracts that should seemingly be everything that Magic general manager Rob Hennigan needs to hit the franchise reset button.
Houston is even willing to rent Howard and spend next season trying to convince the reluctant center to stay in town.
All of that and their offer still hasn't been good enough for the Magic to pull the trigger. Amnestying Scola was Morey's final ace in the hole and Hennigan still hasn't taken the bait. If Orlando liked Houston's package enough, Howard would already be a Rocket.
Where will Dwight Howard be playing opening night of the 2012-13 season?
2. Howard Is Far More Likely to Extend for Los Angeles Than Houston
The biggest allure of Howard's desire to leave Orlando for Brooklyn was playing with another superstar in one of the world's largest markets.
That's not happening in Houston. Despite being the United States' fourth most populous city, the Rockets are still viewed as a second-tier franchise and Howard's surrounding cast for next season would theoretically be Orlando West.
In Los Angeles, Howard will get to play with two future Hall of Famers in Nash and Bryant on one of the most recognizable franchises in sports. Following the Shaq blueprint might give Howard some initial trepidation considering their incessant comparisons, but those doubts would vanish after catching his first alley-oop from Nash.
3. Houston Could Still Get Andrew Bynum Via a Three-Way Deal
This is a rare circumstance where a three-team deal could work out as a three-way win for all teams involved.
Unlike Howard, Bynum has interest in playing for the Rockets and could become the franchise anchor Morey has desperately searched for. Howard could move on to his desired large market and the Magic could cherry pick assets from both teams and finally start the franchise's healing process.
And for the Lakers, this would just be another coup in the summer of capers for general manager Mitch Kupchak.
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