Some have wondered if the Lakers would be inclined to do a sign-and-trade deal with Howard, but Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News recently reported the team would not be willing to do such a deal: "A league source familiar with the Lakers front office's thinking said, 'they'll either re-sign Dwight or walk away with cap space.'"
This lines up with what Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported a few days earlier when he revealed the Lakers as having "resisted Clippers overtures" for such a deal:
It makes sense, from Los Angeles' perspective. Sign-and-trades can be complicated endeavors that sometimes require teams to compromise in order to get what they want.
For the Lakers, compromise is something this franchise can't do any more.
Last season proved the need for a completely revamped roster.
With so much money tied up in the top players, the Lakers were victimized by their lack of depth. When said top players went down with injuries (as is prone to happen with older players), the team collapsed and barely made the playoffs.
This isn't a sustainable model for the future, and looking at the Lakers' salary-cap situation for the 2014-2015 season, this is a franchise ripe for a complete overhaul.
According to Hoopsworld.com, the only player on the Lakers' payroll for the 2014-2015 season is Steve Nash—a player who may well be ready to retire at that point.
Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace and Steve Blake are all in their early- to mid-30s and don't have a lot left in the tank—not to mention Bryant could miss part of the season, due to his Achilles injury.
Should the Lakers decide to roll the dice and re-sign Howard for a king's ransom, it seems more feasible to think the team will repeat its struggles than to think it will suddenly compete for a championship.
After all, the same guys who couldn't get it done last year will be one year older and slower. This is a team that must get younger—and fast—or it will risk falling into a deep pit of despair akin to what we witnessed with the New York Knicks in the not-so-distant past.
The best course of action for the Lakers right now is to simply let Howard sign with another team, let the 2013-2014 season play itself out and plan for a complete retooling of the entire roster going forward.
Free agents will always be interested in signing with the Lakers, and the team needs new blood.
Granted, going this route would likely result in a miserable season next year—a thought that sends most Lakers fans into a dark place. That said, it would be better to have one or two disappointing seasons than to endure a decade of mediocrity.
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