The first domino to fall when free agency opens on July 1 may be the biggest.
The Lakers may very well find themselves in a bidding war for Howard's services this summer, with their primary competition being the Houston Rockets.
According to ESPN's Marc Stein, "the Rockets have received what has been described as 'hopeful signals' that Howard is seriously considering a jump from the Lakers to the Rockets after becoming a free agent July 1."
However, unlike the Rockets, the Lakers are familiar with the Howard experience. When preparing to make such a significant financial commitment to a player of Howard's caliber, it's important to weigh the pros and cons, of which there are many.
Note: All statistics retrieved from Basketball-Reference unless noted otherwise.
If there's one thing the Los Angeles Lakers aren't accustomed to, it's losing.
The Lakers have missed the playoffs twice since the 1976-77 season (in 1993-94 and 2004-05), and a significant factor is the star power that L.A. has been able to lure to Hollywood year after year.
It remains to be seen just how long Kobe Bryant's Achilles injury will keep him sidelined, but knowing the Mamba's competitive spirit and determination to get back on the floor, it wouldn't be a shock to see him return sooner rather than later.
Re-signing Howard would give the Lakers a formidable one-two punch, although they'll still have some kinks to work out.
What's clear is that Howard needs to be integrated into the offense as no less than a second option.
After a season of turmoil, the Lakers' collection of stars will need to make sacrifices to make the playoffs—an attainable goal if some much-needed adjustments are made.
The Los Angeles Lakers aren't bashful when it comes to writing large checks.
Re-signing Dwight Howard will require a significant financial commitment, one of the maximum variety.
According to HoopsWorld's Bill Ingram, here's a look at how a five-year deal for Howard could look:
- Year 1: $20,513,178.00
- Year 2: $22,051,666.35
- Year 3: $23,590,154.70
- Year 4: $25,128,643.05
- Year 5: $26,667,131.40
Over five years, the Lakers would be committing roughly $118 million in salary for Howard alone.
What's working in the Lakers' favor is that they have the ability to offer a fifth year that no other team can.
However, the Los Angeles Times' Mike Bresnahan has speculated that the Lakers may be gearing up for a summer of moving and shaking in 2014.
With players like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony all capable of exercising early termination options next summer, the Lakers could be primed to make a run at some of the league's most compelling names.
Locking up Howard this summer would give the Lakers a foundation on which they could build upon, but if they feel that they have a strong chance of luring players of All-Star quality to L.A., they may want to exercise a bit of patience.
Kobe Bryant's leaving the date of his retirement up in the air, according to the Los Angeles Times, but at the very most, it would appear he has two years left to cement his legacy.
By re-signing Dwight Howard, the Los Angeles Lakers would already have their long-term solution in tow.
They wouldn't need to shop for superstars as vigorously, and Howard's promotion to franchise centerpiece would open up a new title window in L.A.
Howard's shown in the past that he's capable of being the lone superstar on a championship-caliber team, and there's no telling what the addition of a young, talented point guard could eventually do for his development.
Whether it's on the court or off it, Dwight Howard's immaturity is a dark cloud that ominously follows him from city to city.
Sure, dealing with Howard's attitude problems is a small price to pay for the effort he puts forth on both ends of the floor, but he's not the sort of positive veteran locker room presence most teams are seeking in a superstar.
With another year or two to learn from the Kobe Bryant leadership handbook, Howard would be wise to take notes on how to act in the locker room and interact with the media.
Howard's desire to be the center of attention isn't necessarily a bad one, but he'll need to hone his leadership tools if he hopes to become a respected superstar.
Bynum never stepped on the floor in his first and perhaps last season in Philly. Meanwhile, Dwight Howard piled up 17.1 points, 12.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game en route to All-NBA Third Team honors.
While the trade can easily be classified as a win for the Lakers, the move was a risk. The Lakers acquired Howard with a year remaining on his contract, and went into the season fully aware that he wouldn't sign a new deal before his current one expired.
Re-signing Howard would be a step toward the trade being classified as a long-term success. Yes, he can be a handful at times, but Howard's productivity during a season in which he was battling back and shoulder injuries shows just how dominant he could be once he's back at 100 percent.
Do you think the Lakers should re-sign Howard? Voice your opinion in the comments below.