Not only is Dwight Howard set to be a free agent, Kobe Bryant is also coming off a torn Achilles tendon, with November likely being the earliest he will return to the floor, per Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times.
Naturally, a bevy of rumors are circulating around the organization. Here's my take on some of the biggest rumors out there right now.
Chris Paul and Dwight Howard Looking to Team Up?
According to Chris Broussard of ESPN The Magazine, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard have been in constant contact this summer about the possibility of joining forces.
The Atlanta Hawks have been mentioned as a possible landing spot for the two superstars, but, as Broussard noted, Howard hasn't been that keen on moving to Atlanta, while Paul appears to have worked out his differences with the Los Angeles Clippers.
The most likely scenario, Broussard writes, is the pair playing together with the Clippers. The Clippers don't have the cap space to sign both, but could land the duo in a sign-and-trade with the Lakers. This package could include Blake Griffin and Eric Bledsoe.
Paul and Howard could potentially form an electric duo. Howard averaged 17.1 points, 12.4 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and 1.1 steals in his first campaign with the Lakers last season. Chris Paul—who finished fourth in MVP voting last season—averaged 16.9 points, 9.7 assists and 2.4 steals.
Is Dwight Howard Headed to the Houston Rockets?
Houston is an attractive place for Dwight Howard to play. He would not only be playing with All-Star James Harden, but the fact that there is no income tax in Texas means he wouldn't be leaving as much money on the table if he chose to spurn the Lakers.
According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, sources say that Rockets paint protector Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin could be included in a sign-and-trade for Howard.
Of course, the Lakers may be more likely to let Howard walk than engage in a sign-and-trade, given they would have more cap space for the summer of 2014, as Stein writes.
But even if the Lakers don't do a sign-and-trade with the Rockets, the Rockets would still have the cap space to sign Howard outright if they dump Thomas Robinson's contract (which they are expected to do).
The prospect of teaming up with Paul may be enticing for Howard, but the Rockets still appear to be the best bet, in my opinion. And, honestly, if the Rockets don't do a sign-and-trade, they would have a better team anyway, with Lin and Asik still on the roster. Combined with Chandler Parsons, that's a potential championship roster right there.
Will Monta Ellis Join the Lakers?
Broussard also writes that the Lakers—as well as the Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks—have interest in the combo guard.
The possibility of an electric guard joining the Lakers is an enticing proposition. After all, the Lakers certainly need depth in the backcourt, especially with Bryant ailing. On the other hand, the prospect of Ellis joining the Lakers is unlikely, given it would have to come via a sign-and-trade, Broussard notes.
Ellis—who averaged 19.2 points and 6.0 assists with the Bucks last season—is an excellent penetrator, making him a potentially good fit for the Lakers. He could drive and dish to Howard under the hoop.
Of course, Ellis is not known as the greatest defender. He averaged 2.1 steals last season, but he also gambles a lot and gets beat to the hoop. That's not exactly comforting to Lakers fans, considering point guards had their way with Los Angeles last season.