Lakers Trade Rumors: Dwight Howard Worth the Gamble Even Without Extension

Steven Gerwel@Steve_GerContributor IIIJuly 21, 2012

ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 06:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic smiles during the game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Amway Center on February 6, 2012 in Orlando, Florida.   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 Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
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If there's one constant in the world of professional sports, it's that nothing lasts forever. 

Whether it's the individual career of a great player or a franchise that has dominated the sport for the better part of a decade, all good things eventually come to an end. No player or team stays great forever.

The Los Angeles Lakers are obviously one of the more decorated franchises in the NBA, and their rich history may convince fans that life after Kobe Bryant will still bring championships and dominance, but that's far from guaranteed. 

After 16 NBA seasons, the 33-year-old Kobe is still a key weapon and a dominant presence on the court. 

Kobe still has several seasons of production ahead of him, but the Lakers should not take the remainder of his career for granted. They need to stock up now and win more championships, or else they'll be filled with regret once the post-Kobe era arrives. 

The additions of Steve Nash and Antwan Jamison are a step in that direction, but there's still room for much greater improvement if they're willing to get a little risky. 


Dwight Howard Is Risky But Worth It

Dwight Howard has been a source of turbulence for the Orlando Magic front office, but he's also arguably the best defensive player in the entire NBA. 

Howard is on the trade block, but the center has only one year left on his current contract before he enters free agency. Obviously, the team that acquires him will go through the obstacle of signing a generally uncooperative player to a long-term deal. 

To make matters worse, there have been mixed reports on whether or not he'd be willing to sign an extension for the team that trades for him. 

An ESPN report stated that Howard would be receptive towards signing a long-term contract if he's traded to the Lakers, but other reports (h/t Alex Groberman of have suggested that he plans on testing free agency a year from now no matter what. 

So there's no way to sugarcoat it—a trade for Howard comes with some risk. 

But for the Lakers, they're already struggling to ink a center for the long run. So it's not much of a difference for them.  

With current center Andrew Bynum on the trade block, there's been a bad taste left in his mouth, as his team is apparently willing to part with him. 

Bynum is set to enter free agency a year from now, so whether it's Bynum or Howard, the Lakers are going to be facing the challenge of hammering out a major contract for a premiere center. 

The only difference is that Howard is far superior to Bynum. One season with Howard gives the Lakers a much better shot at a title than one year with Bynum. 

And if winning championships is the primary objective, isn't it worth the risk? 

Also, if Howard is able to win a championship in Los Angeles, there's a good chance that he'll change his attitude and become more open to a long-term deal. 

After all, if he would be willing to sign an extension, then the Lakers would be a championship threat for the remainder of Kobe's career.

And that kind of legacy would be hard for Howard to ignore.