Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported yesterday that the Lakers won’t be taking any sign-and-trade offers that involve Howard:
While the Clippers had the wistful thought of trying to arrange a sign-and-trade to acquire Dwight Howard for Bledsoe and Blake Griffin, the Lakers have flatly rejected the idea, sources said.
“They’ll never do it,” one source with direct knowledge of the conversations told Yahoo! Sports.
But that’s not exactly what everyone close to the Lakers is saying about a potential deal that would send Howard to the Clippers. Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN reported that Los Angeles isn’t going to rule anything out. They say that the Lakers have “adopted a keep-all-options-open approach.”
So, what’s the deal with the Lakers?
Well, for one, the Lakers would be foolish to rule out a sign-and-trade, especially for what the Clippers could offer them. It’s not like Griffin and Bledsoe are two scrappy players who aren’t worth anything. They’re two of the best players on the West Coast and would constitute a big impact alongside Kobe Bryant.
This past season, Griffin ranked 12th in the NBA in PER while Bledsoe was 70th, according to ESPN. Howard ranked 36th, playing in 76 games. Maybe the Lakers receive a draft pick too, since they don’t currently hold a pick in the first round of this year’s draft.
Howard has had his fair share of injury woes, though, and if he is going to leave the Lakers, Los Angeles might as well capitalize on anything that it can get in return. The ESPN report states that the Lakers would be fond of a sign-and-trade because it would result in cap space going forward.
The Lakers have put a large emphasis on cap space for the summer of 2014, and Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Lakers will either sign the center or let him walk—leaving out anything about a sign-and-trade.
If making it through this summer with cap space for next is a priority, it doesn’t make sense to just sign Howard. Sure, he’s one of the best players in basketball when he’s healthy, but is he worth the cost, knowing that injuries could plague the rest of his career? And that’s under the assumption that he wants to return to the Lakers.
The Lakers need to do whatever it takes to improve for 2013-14 and for the years after—whether that means Howard is on the roster or off it. But the point is that the Lakers shouldn’t be thinking that it’s one option or another. There are plenty of offers and scenarios that the Lakers front office should ponder.
Simply stating that the Lakers won’t field sign-and-trade offers is the wrong decision. Anything to make the Los Angeles Lakers better should be the goal, no matter what it takes to achieve it.