Lakers Rumors: Team Shouldn't Be Ruled out of Dwight Howard Sweepstakes

Kyle NewportFeatured ColumnistJune 28, 2013

The Lakers will do their best to try to re-sign Dwight Howard.
The Lakers will do their best to try to re-sign Dwight Howard.Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

NBA free agency is now only days away, and all eyes will be on the Los Angeles Lakers to see if they can re-sign Dwight Howard.

On Thursday, Chris Broussard of ESPN The Magazine reported that Howard is unlikely to re-sign with the Lakers. 

There is very little chance of Dwight Howard re-signing with the Los Angeles Lakers this summer. Howard is willing to forgo the extra $30 million the Lakers can pay him to play for a coach and in a system he feels will better use his skill set, one source said.

That doesn't sound good for the Lakers, but anything can happen in free agency. Howard has been the center of the basketball world before and has changed his mind repeatedly. Broussard gave his take on the Lakers' chances

Howard is notoriously indecisive, so the Lakers, while apparently major underdogs, should not be completely eliminated from contention. Before the 2011-12 season, he repeatedly asked the Orlando Magic to trade him, and then at midseason he opted in to the final year of his contract to remain in Orlando.

With all of the indecisiveness on Howard's part, there is absolutely no reason to rule the Lakers out. The team's main priority is to re-sign the big man.

He committed to the Magic after he made it clear that he wanted out, so it's possible that the Lakers can convince him to continue his time in purple and gold.

Los Angeles has one big advantage over every other team: more money. The Lakers can offer Howard a five-year, $118 million deal. Other teams can only offer him four years and $88 million.

The Rockets will need to dump some salary if they are going to sign Howard. With the draft over, it will be tougher for them to get a fair deal for their pieces. James Harden is signed to a big deal, and Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik will get big raises after next season.

Dallas has Dirk Nowitzki's big contract but not much else on the books. The Mavericks don't have to clear as much future salary as the Rockets, but there aren't many pieces on the team's roster besides Nowitzki right now. Howard would be giving up money and a chance to win by going to Dallas.

A source told Broussard that Howard is expected to make a decision by July 10. That doesn't give fans any indication as to which way he is leaning.

Howard hasn't performed well under coach Mike D'Antoni. Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said earlier this year that the coach will return, but the team could also change its mind. If Howard made it clear that he'd come back if D'Antoni were to be fired, it would be tough for the Lakers to not make the move.

So many things can happen between now and July 10. Teams will make their pitches to Howard, and he will see what each team has to offer. He could decide that the Lakers give him the best chance to win and money could be too much to pass up.

It's going to be 10 days of back-and-forth reports about what Howard is going to do. Until he actually signs a contract, the Lakers should not be ruled out.

Los Angeles can attract future free agents with which to surround Howard. Dallas and Houston are not prime spots for premier free agents to land. If he wants to chase a championship, staying in Los Angeles would be the best option. He'd also be making more money there.

With Kobe Bryant mulling his future, Howard could stick around and play a few more years alongside one of the greatest players to ever play.

Point guard Steve Nash is also under contract for two more seasons. Playing with two of the best players of this generation is something no other team can offer him.

Despite all of the issues the Lakers had this year, they came together near the end of the season to sneak into the playoffs. The team could have a couple of good years left together if it stuck together, which would be Howard's best chance at a championship.

The Lakers finally developed chemistry late in the season once they started to get healthy. Part of the issue was Howard's health, which has not been brought up this offseason. Other teams may find something wrong with him and back out.

Between the money and the chance to win, the Lakers have a lot to offer Howard. They shouldn't be eliminated from the sweepstakes until he is officially signs a contract with a new team.

Indecisiveness plagued Howard prior to coming to Los Angeles, and now it's time for the Lakers to do their best to convince him to re-sign with the team.