As if the Los Angeles Lakers needed more motivation to work out a trade for Dwight Howard, the superstar center has apparently told sources that he is willing to sign a long-term extension should he get dealt there.
Sources: Dwight Howard is ready to join Lakers. If traded to Los Angeles Howard will re-sign long-term with team after 2012-13 season.— Jarrod N Rudolph (@JRudolphSports) July 19, 2012
This is a wise move on D12’s part, as the Lakers can now ramp up their efforts to land the petulant big man this summer and finally extract him from his self-imposed exile in the Magic Kingdom.
It is almost unfathomable to picture Howard in a Magic jersey at the start of the 2012-13 season, as he has burned all bridges and created a rift between himself and his teammates, the fanbase and the organization itself.
While Orlando has been holding out patiently since the offseason began in earnest on July 1, time is ticking for the franchise to get a deal done.
The Magic's hesitant mannerisms have already turned off the most serious suitor—the Nets—and they cannot risk losing another. Dwight will undoubtedly walk away for nothing in less than a year if they do not accept any offers for his services.
Considering the L.A. brass always knew in the back of its collective mind that Howard could easily bolt after being a mercenary center for a single season, it may have vexed the Lakers to pull the trigger on any deal that would hurt their future.
Now that he has the promise of long-term security, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak must go all in and start working the phones to immediately find a suitable trade for the three-time Defensive Player of the Year.
It’s likely going to cost a pretty penny, as emerging star Andrew Bynum will be the centerpiece, and a third party will likely need to get involved to provide Orlando with the draft picks that Magic GM Rob Hennigan desires.
Any potential deal will likely also involve taking one or both of Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson’s undesirable contracts back.
All of that is worth it to get a perennial first-team All-NBA center that can play incredible defense and score at will close to the basket. He would complete a “Big Four” in L.A., comprising D12 and aging stars Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol.
That is obviously a championship core and a roster that will be competitive for the next few seasons. It seems that Howard finally realized that for himself.