Pros and Cons for Dwight Howard Re-Signing with LA Lakers
Dwight Howard may not have gotten his first choice when he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, but playing for one of the most celebrated franchises in all of sports isn’t a bad situation for most NBA superstars.
The question is, will he or won’t he re-sign with the team?
Howard is set to be a free agent in the summer of 2013, but the Lakers have the opportunity to sign him to a long-term deal before he ever has the chance to bolt for a new city.
Like all contract situations, there are both good things and bad things about re-signing with Los Angeles, and Howard must look at both sides before making his decision.
The “Dwightmare” from 2012 came to a close with the trade that sent him to L.A., but until he is locked up beyond this year, it’s too tough to predict where Howard will be to begin the 2013-14 season.
Read on to see some pros and cons for Howard re-signing with L.A.
Pro: Championship Aspirations
One of the advantages of playing for the Los Angeles Lakers is that you know you’re on a team that has a championship-or-bust mentality.
It’s no secret that the Dwight Howard era of Lakers basketball hasn’t started off how the organization imagined, but that doesn’t mean this team won’t be ready at the end of the year. Don’t forget that the 2010-11 Miami Heat began their season 9-8 before reeling off 12 straight wins and owning a 41-15 record at the All-Star break.
This, of course, isn’t to say that the Lakers are destined for greatness right away, but it is to say that the franchise isn’t going to accept mediocrity at any point in the immediate future.
Even in years when the Lakers aren’t great, they’re still good enough to compete in a tough Western Conference. Most players understand this, and that’s why Los Angeles is such a desirable destination.
Con: Kobe Bryant’s Shadow
Whether Kobe Bryant retires or not when his current contract comes to an end, Dwight Howard has put himself in a situation where he is going to remain in Bryant's shadow for quite some time.
If Bryant sticks around beyond his current deal, Howard remains the No. 2 option until Bryant officially starts playing like he’s in his mid-30s. The 34-year-old has yet to show significant signs of slowing down, and if he sticks around, he’s going to be the leader of the team well beyond the 2012-13 season.
However, if Bryant chooses to follow through with his plan to call it quits, the team is officially left in Howard’s hands.
This can be either a good or a bad thing for Howard, but in a town that only expects the best, you have to wonder if he’ll be ready to take on the pressure of leading one of the greatest franchises in league history back to greatness.
Pro: Always in the Spotlight
Dwight Howard has proved himself to be the most dominant big man in the game in recent memory, but he’s also shown that he loves to goof around and grab the attention everywhere he goes.
Before the drama that surrounded the center in 2012, he was one of the more beloved players by fans league-wide. His personality is one of a kind, and he has a special brand of charisma that has landed him admirers all over the world.
Howard wants to win championships, but he also wants to have fun doing it. Once the team starts winning on a more regular basis, the fun will come, and all the extra perks of Los Angeles will be icing on the cake.
If Howard wants to remain one of the best personalities in basketball, there’s no better place to do so than in a city that is always the center of attention.
Con: Always in the Spotlight
Very few players enjoy the spotlight the way Dwight Howard does, but then again, very few teams take as much heat as the Los Angeles Lakers.
When most NBA teams get off to a rocky start, the national attention doesn’t turn negative; it turns away all together. However, when the Lakers start poorly, everyone knows about it, and everyone wants to talk about it.
Nobody wants to be picked on, but those who sign on with the Lakers are putting a target on their backs.
Always being in the spotlight could be a good thing for Howard, but if this team isn’t winning championships by the end of next season, being the center of attention is no longer going to be a good thing for anybody on that roster.
Pro: More Money
The 2011-12 season saw Andrew Bynum officially enter the conversation for best center in the NBA, but Howard is still the owner of that subjective, yet prestigious title, and he deserves to be paid accordingly.
If Howard wants to earn that extra year on his contract, staying with Los Angeles is the easiest way to make it happen.
Money may or may not be the most important factor for Howard in his free-agent situation—only he and those around him know his true motivations. But if he’s like most players of his caliber at the NBA level, he’s going to want to collect as much as he can, as early as he can get it.
Signing with the Lakers enables him to tack on that final year he wouldn’t get on the free-agent market, and unless he has a specific team in mind where he’d truly rather play, he’d be smart to take the money while it’s on the table.
Con: There Are so Many More Places to Choose
Free agency was designed to give players freedom in choosing where they want to play. Dwight Howard may or may not have one specific place he wants to play deep into his career, but re-signing with the Los Angeles Lakers before testing the market would be doing himself a disservice.
If Howard chooses to test free agency, he’s going to be the hottest commodity to hit the market since LeBron James. He is the game’s most dominant center, and he is just 26 years old.
Every team in the league would love to have Howard, and every team with cap space would be fighting over him in the summer of 2013.
If money proves to be less important than finding the right team—and if that right team is any team outside of the Lakers—it’s crucial that Howard at least takes a look at who else is out there.