With free agency officially upon us, all eyes have returned to a familiar destination as the Los Angeles Lakers are once again the center of attention. As is the case with every offseason, the Lake Show will have a hand in how free agency pans out.
So, what is the latest buzz coming from Tinseltown?
The Lakers are at the heart of the most high-profile chase of the offseason as they attempt to re-sign Dwight Howard. While nothing is set in stone, one thing is perfectly clear as the 2013 NBA offseason takes shape.
The Lakers will play a primary role in deciding what transpires in free agency.
Warriors Preparing Sign-and-Trade Offer for D-12
According to Marcus Thompson, Warriors beat writer for the Bay Area News Group, the Golden State Warriors are preparing a sign-and-trade offer for Dwight Howard. As a part of the deal, Golden State would send Andrew Bogut and either Harrison Barnes or Klay Thompson to the Lakers.
Their ideal result, however, would be to keep both Barnes and Thompson.
The Warriors are definitely interested in landing Dwight Howard if at all possible. It’s a long shot, to be sure. But Golden State doesn’t seem at all deterred by Howard’s propensity for drama, his injuries, or his wanting to play for other teams.
“Are you kidding?” one source said. “He’s the best center in the game.”
According to sources, the Warriors are willing to offer Andrew Bogut along with Klay Thompson or Harrison Barnes. But the sell is to lure Dwight Howard with the prospect of a loaded lineup that features Curry, Thompson AND Barnes. The Warriors could trade Bogut and the expiring contracts of Richard Jefferson or Andris Biedrins to give the Lakers major cap relief heading into next offseason. Golden State, which can only sign Howard via sign-and-trade, believes that is the best offer Los Angeles will receive.
Ken Berger of CBS Sports reports that the two sides have not yet engaged in trade talks.
The deal is certainly intriguing, as both Barnes and Thompson would provide the athletic upgrade L.A. needs along the perimeter. Paired with Bogut, an injury-prone but supremely effective defensive center, there is reason for interest.
If the signs begin to point toward Howard signing elsewhere and L.A. losing him with nothing in return, this could be a deal to watch.
Per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Howard is also considering the Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets and, of course, Lakers. Wojnarowski reports that the Rockets have emerged as the front-runners, thus placing L.A. in a position of caution.
With all signs pointing toward the Lakers losing their prized big man, it may be time to take action before it's too late.
Aggressively Pursuing Free Agents
According to Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio, the Los Angeles Lakers have been the most aggressive team in the NBA when it comes to acquiring free agents. While re-signing Dwight Howard is the top priority, the Lakers aren't resting there.
L.A. is looking for help in every area.
Multiple league executives say the Los Angeles Lakers have been far and away the most aggressive team in exploring available players, even by Lakers standards. “If there’s a guy they think can help them, they’re getting his agent on the horn,” one FOX Sports Ohio source said.
This shouldn't come as a surprise.
Even if the Lakers are to re-sign Howard, they've never had an issue with the quality of their starting lineup. Instead, their downfall has been the absence of depth behind their stars and their lack of perimeter athleticism.
Wayne Ellington and Nick Young certainly fit the bill in that regard, which suggests L.A. is moving in the right direction. The question is whether they can afford the depth they need.