Breaking Down What LA Lakers Can Offer Dwight Howard That Other Teams Can't
According to ESPNLA, Lakers center Dwight Howard will make his decision on July 10th, and on that Wednesday, the NBA world will be treated to the most riveting free-agency development since LeBron James' "decision."
Only thing is, this is Los Angeles, and these are the Lakers not the Cleveland Cavaliers.
No disrespect to the city of Cleveland or the sentimental ties James cut when he left his home-state team, but the Cavaliers have never really been a popular free-agency destination.
However, Los Angeles is, and once the NBA's stars migrate west, they hardly ever leave in the same manner—which makes Howard's potential departure puzzling.
Chris Broussard of ESPN says there is very little chance of Howard re-signing with the Lakers, and while I'm not sure if I trust Broussard's sources, there must be some appeal to a change of scenery for Howard.
Howard doesn't seem to trust Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni very much, and it's hard to imagine D'Antoni altering his offense to suit Howard's tastes.
It also must have been a little deflating to hear Kobe Bryant ponder on playing another 3-4 years, especially if Howard has dreams of being the face of the Lakers franchise any time in the near future.
Howard's struggles adjusting to D'Antoni's system and his teammates is one thing, and his alternatives if he does decide to bolt Los Angeles are attractive as well.
The Rockets can surround Howard with a young nucleus led by star guard James Harden, and with the Mavericks, Howard could team with Dirk Nowitzki for a few seasons before assuming the reins of the franchise once Dirk retires.
Both are definitely intriguing options, but before Howard decides to relocate to Texas, he may want to take one last, long look at the city and franchise he would be leaving.
Besides the nearly year-round great weather and Hollywood environment, the Lakers can also offer Howard $30 million more over the life of his contract. The money and the lifestyle appeal to the most basic instincts of human nature, but those are only surface deep.
The Lakers championship legacy is embedded, certified and stamped, and if Howard leaves, he would be one of the first high-profile free agents in recent memory to leave the Lakers without the benefit of a trade.
Think about that for a minute.
Players may love the Los Angeles atmosphere and the money, but it's the ability to compete for championships on a consistent basis and possibly add their jerseys to the rafters in Staples Center that keeps them coming.
Since 1990, the Rockets and Mavericks have combined for four NBA Finals appearances and three championships, while Bryant has won five titles in a shorter span.
Sure, Howard might be great in Houston, but any success he experiences there will always be tied to Harden. And it doesn't help that Harden is younger and has just as much star quality—and maybe more drive—than Howard.
In Los Angeles, Howard could assume a singular identity, and instead of being a great player, he can be legendary.
Sorry, but Houston produces very few legends, and while the greatest player in the history of its franchise does man the same position, the Lakers' legacy has been crafted by excellence in the middle.
Can Dwight Howard Have a Better Legacy with Another Team?
There are plenty of Lakers fans who will say that Howard doesn't deserve to be mentioned with the likes of Shaquille O'Neal and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and they may be right. But Howard is the best center in the NBA, and the Lakers have usually held a monopoly on that claim.
Sadly, what Howard doesn't realize and most of the NBA world seems to have forgotten is that there is still life in the City of Angels if Howard does decide to leave.
The Lakers have gone through a few rebuilding periods, but they have still been the most resilient team in the history of the NBA.
Los Angeles has competed in nearly half of all NBA Finals series played, and something tells me it will play in a few more, regardless of what Howard decides to do.
2014 is coming, with or without Howard, and when it arrives, the Lakers will be in the position to set the stage for the rebirth of a dynasty.
If Howard were forward-thinking, he would see the possibilities that could be realized by re-signing with the Lakers. And if he had any knowledge or respect for the territory he is inhabiting, he would welcome the opportunity to etch his name into history.
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