NBA Rumors: Dwight Howard's Guarantee to Lakers Doesn't Mean He's There Already

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NBA Rumors: Dwight Howard's Guarantee to Lakers Doesn't Mean He's There Already
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As most of the world by now has heard, Dwight Howard has made it clear that he is willing to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers long-term (per ESPN).

Consider the deal done then, right? The only thing left is to dot the "i"s and cross the "t"s?

Wrong.

Contrary to most of the pure speculation that is occurring right now, the fact that Dwight is willing to re-up with the Lakers after being traded there doesn’t significantly change the trade circumstances. In fact, it barely alters them at all.

While the Lakers were hoping for Dwight to sign an extension before they would trade Andrew Bynum away, in recent weeks sources have reported that the Lakers would be willing to make the trade without a guarantee.

The simple reason behind this was that the Lakers’ brass believed the championship atmosphere, fearsome squad assembled and almost guaranteed success of the team would convince Dwight to stay. Owning his Bird rights—meaning an extra year and $25 million on the contract—also helps.

This boils down to the Lakers having all their ducks in a row. In the proposed three-team trade between Los Angeles, Cleveland and Orlando, the Lakers would send Andrew Bynum to the Cavaliers, the Magic would ship Dwight Howard off to L.A., and Cleveland and Los Angeles would provide Orlando with draft picks, cap relief and the “Wild Thing” (Anderson Varejao).

It has been noted, however, that these talks are at the preliminary stage, as Andrew Bynum hasn’t even been contacted by the Cavaliers yet.

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

As currently constructed, the deal makes sense for all three teams, so the question is: Why haven’t the GMs of the three teams inked the deal and sent it to the NBA office?

The answer is the same reason why Dwight Howard isn’t happily sitting in Brooklyn right now: Orlando wants more.

If the Magic weren’t happy with the Nets’ pu-pu platter of Lopez, draft picks and salary relief, why would they settle for a worse player in Varejao? That cannot be definitively answered outside of the Orlando organization, but the common school of thought is that Varejao’s contract is much better with only three years remaining and costs less than Brook Lopez’s max-level contract.

The Magic have been extremely patient throughout this whole process, forcing the Rockets, Nets and Lakers to up the ante in order to grab the best big man in the NBA. As there are several months until the season begins, the Magic can wait as long as they wish to try to get the best offer.

As of right now, the Lakers reportedly do not want to take on Jason Richardson’s salary that Orlando wishes to dump (per Fox Sports' Sam Amico). Another problem is Hedo Turkoglu’s albatross of a contract, which the Magic surely want to rid their books of.

One would also have to stop and think if the Cavaliers’ draft picks being offered would be enough. Hennigan, descending from the Sam Presti school of GM-ship, seems bent on rebuilding through the NBA draft. The surefire way to accomplish that is to get high draft picks and have a poor team for several years. Would the Cleveland Cavaliers’ draft picks—with a proposed young, solid core of Kyrie Irving and Andrew Bynum—give the Magic lottery picks?

All the aforementioned questions are issues that must be sorted out before Dwight Howard can land anywhere, much less in Los Angeles. While Lakers fans may rejoice for the moment that Dwight has agreed to play for the sterling franchise, savvy NBA followers must realize that the so-called “Dwightmare” most likely won’t end in the next 48 hours.

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