Only with the enigmatic Dwight Howard could it seem like a foregone conclusion that he would walk away from Lakers when they can offer him more money than any other team.
However, that has been the prevailing thought. While the Lakers will try to retain him, they certainly aren't banking everything on Howard. They are reportedly being extremely active in the free-agent market.
I'll get to the free agents in a moment, but first, let's check in with the latest on D-12. According to Marcus Thompson, Warriors beat writer for the Bay Area News Group, the latest development on Howard is the Warriors are looking to add Howard via a sign-and-trade.
Thompson notes, according to sources, "the Warriors are willing to offer Andrew Bogut along with Klay Thompson or Harrison Barnes."
This would be an excellent option for the Lakers. While the Lakers, as USA Today's Sam Amick details, are going all out to re-sign Howard, they appear to be facing an uphill battle.
ESPN's Chris Broussard explains with this tweet:
Sources: Dwight Howard unlikely to re-sign with the Lakers. Dallas and Houston the favorites. Main issue w/Lakers is Mike D'Antoni's system— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) June 27, 2013
So, if the Lakers aren't going to be able to re-sign Howard, a sign-and-trade would be a nice way to get some assets for him. Of course, Howard would have to agree to sign a contract with the Warriors, and to do that, he'd have to rebuff the interest of several teams looking to sign him.
As Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, reports Howard is also considering the Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets along with the Lakers. He also adds that Houston has emerged as the front-runners.
Meanwhile, as all this goes on, the Lakers are attacking the free-agent market with abandon.
The interest in center Mullens is likely contingent upon what Howard decides to do. With shooting guards Young and Ellington, it is simply addressing a need.
Even with Bryant on the court, the Lakers need increased depth and athleticism. Young and Ellington would bring both.
While which direction the Lakers' offseason heads in is unclear, one thing is for certain, and that's that the Lakers will be extremely active.