Los Angeles Lakers Acquire Dwight Howard: 5 Reasons the Trade Was a Bad Move
Wow. Just wow.
Prior to the Howard trade, the Lakers were one of the busiest offseason teams. With the additions of All-Star point guard Steve Nash and veteran Antawn Jamison, the Lakers looked significantly better than last year.
Now with the acquisition of Howard, it is easy to see why they are one of the early favorites to win the NBA title.
Howard gives the Lakers a lot on both sides of the ball. On offense, he can draw the double team and help create easier shots for his teammates. On defense, he is a force on the interior, as he is a three time winner of the Defensive Player of the Year award.
However, as great as this trade was, it was not flawless.
Heading into the 2012-2013 season, there are still a lot of questions that surround Dwight Howard as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Here are five reasons why the Lakers trade for Dwight Howard was a bad move.
By now, I'm sure the Lakers fans reading this do not like me very much.
Dwight Howard is currently recovering from back surgery that he underwent last April. As he is undergoing rehab in Los Angeles, ESPN has reported that he still has not been cleared by doctors to "return to the court."
ESPN reported at his press conference with the Lakers that, "Howard is expected to miss the start of the regular season as he continues to recover from back surgery."
It continues on to say, "Howard also was unsure when exactly he would be cleared by doctors to return to the court."
He is also quoted as saying that a back is very serious, and that he isn't going to rush himself to play.
As a Lakers fan, you have to hope that Howard can handle the wear-and tear of an NBA season, especially the physicality that he must endure in the paint. All in all, you just have to hope that his back can hold up for the season and, more importantly, the playoffs.
2. Long-Term Future
Dwight Howard's long term future is still up in the air. After the 2012-2013 season, Howard will become a free agent, and reports state that he intends to play out the season without signing an extension.
This will allow Howard to receive a max contract, as opposed to receiving less money by singing a contract extension.
By opting to be a free agent in the 2013 season, this also gives Howard the choice to either re-sign with the Lakers or choose another team, most likely the Dallas Mavericks. Dallas and Los Angeles were two of the top three preferred destinations, and both teams are likely to have the salary-cap space to sign Howard.
Anyone can argue that LA has too much to offer Howard, with the history of big men that have played there and the opportunity to play with Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, but you never know what can happen with so many high profile stars on one team (Kobe and Shaq).
If for some reason the Lakers and Dwight do not work out, sources have told ESPN's Marc Stein that "Dallas will be there waiting for him."
The Lakers took a huge gamble by going after Dwight as he has not committed to an extension, and only time will tell if the Lakers' gamble will pay off.
3. Free Throw Woes
For "Superman", it seems that his kryptonite is free-throw shooting.
For his career, Howard has been shooting 59 percent from the foul line. To make matters worse, he shot a horrid 49 percent from the line last season, a career low.
Howard's best year as a free-throw shooter was his rookie year back in the 2004-2005 season where he shot 67 percent. Ever since then, he has not been able to make more than 60 percent of his free throws.
Howard's FT shooting comes as a liability throughout games, especially in the fourth quarter. His inconsistency at the charity stripe will certainly give Laker fans headaches and may even be the reason why the Lakers lose a few close games here and there.
Laker fans will certainly remember the days when Shaq used to play for them and brick free throws on a consistent basis.
4. Can Dwight Deal with Being a Third/Fourth Option?
According to a report released last February by Pro Basketball Talk, Howard was leaning away at the possibility of LA becoming a destination as well as committing to an extension because of something Kobe Bryant said.
According to the report:
"Howard envisioned going to the Lakers and forming a devastating one-two punch with Bryant. But Bryant had other plans for how Howard would be incorporated into the Lakers.
Bryant told Howard that he wanted him to come to Los Angeles and help him win two more championships, but not as an understudy. He wanted Howard to be the team’s third option behind himself and Pau Gasol, according to a source. Bryant tried to sell Howard on being his “Tyson Chandler” and made it clear that Los Angeles would be his, but only once Bryant decided he was done playing."
If sources are true and Kobe sticks to his word, Howard will still end up being a third, or possibly a fourth, option with the addition of Steve Nash.
If Dwight didn't appreciate the idea of being a third option last February, what would make him appreciate it now?
This goes back to Dwight and his refusal to sign an extension. The Los Angeles Times has reported earlier in the year that "Howard apparently didn't think he could live with Bryant's attitude, and because of that, he told officials he would not consider signing a contract extension beyond this season if traded to the Lakers."
Once again, no one knows how well this Lakers team will mesh together and if the clash of high profile superstars will affect team chemistry at all.
5. Is Howard Really an Upgrade from Bynum?
This answer may not be as obvious as you think.
Sure, the duo of Nash and Howard makes more sense as opposed to Nash and Bynum. With Bynum being more of a low post, ball stopping kind of player, Howard makes more sense with Nash because of his ability to cut to the basket. Dwight's athleticism is great as we well know, especially in the pick and roll. Lucky for him, Steve Nash is one of the greatest pick-and-roll point guards in the game.
However, Ryan Feldman with ESPN gathered a few interesting stats from the defensive aspect of the game. Dwight is undoubtedly a defensive force, as he has won three Defensive Player of the Year Awards. However, according to Feldman:
"Bynum actually allowed fewer points per post-up play than Howard last season. Howard held opponents to a lower field-goal percentage and forced turnovers more often, but the difference came on fouls. Howard sent opponents to the free-throw line more than twice as often on post-up plays."
"Bynum held the roll men on pick-and-roll plays to a lower field-goal percentage than Howard and sent his opponents to the free-throw line less often."
Both Howard and Bynum excel in areas where the other does not. While they are still young, only time will tell who develops into the better and more complete center.
Ultimately, it will show if the Lakers pursued the right big man in going after Howard and trading away Bynum.