Whether the Orlando Magic decide to trade the All-Pro center to Los Angeles before next summer, when Howard becomes a free agent, or Howard lands in the Lakers’ hands as a free agent this offseason, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year will end up wearing purple and gold one way or another.
The Los Angeles Lakers have boasted some of the greatest post players in league history, including Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal and Pau Gasol.
The one thing all four of these men have in common, besides helping lead the Lakers to championships, is they started their careers with other franchises before coming to Los Angeles.
Shaq was signed as a free agent in summer of 1996 after he and the Orlando Magic failed to come to terms on a new contract.
Thus, if the team does end up obtaining Howard, it wouldn’t be the first time the Lakers have lured another franchise’s star big man.
I doubt there is one NBA fan who honestly thinks Dwight Howard wants to spend the rest of his career with the Orlando Magic.
After the Magic made a surprise run to the NBA Finals in 2009, they have slowly regressed every season since, including a loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the playoffs last spring.
If Howard feels the Magic peaked back in 2009, why would he want to stay in Orlando, especially when playing with Kobe Bryant, the bright lights of Hollywood and the likelihood of seriously competing for a championship for the next decade are all within reach?
If Dwight Howard and the Los Angeles Lakers are indeed destined to come together, it would be wise for Orlando Magic general manager Otis Smith to possibly trade Howard to the Lakers before the season ends to ensure he gets something in return for the star center.
If Smith waits until this offseason, when Howard becomes a free agent, he risks losing Howard and not getting anything in return (think Cleveland in the summer of ’10).
While Smith and the rest of the city of Orlando would hate to lose Howard, the pieces they would get in return wouldn’t be too shabby.
At the very least, the Magic would likely be guaranteed to get a combination of two players from the Lakers’ talented frontcourt of Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom.
If all of the hoopla is true, Smith needs to be savvy and trade Howard to prevent putting the franchise in a hole it may never crawl out of.
With Phil Jackson somewhere in Montana, meditating with some incense, many think Lakers owner Jerry Buss has delegated most of the responsibility of running the team to his son Jim.
Young Buss may feel he has to make a move for one of the game’s biggest stars to prove he can put a championship contender together without Jackson around.
I have a feeling the last thing the Buss family wants is fans longing for the Zen Master.
There is no doubt Dwight Howard coming to the Los Angeles Lakers would instantly make them a better team and quite likely the favorites to win the championship.
But Howard would also serve as Kobe Bryant’s eventual replacement. Long after Kobe retires, Howard would presumably still be in purple and gold, serving as the anchor of the franchise’s next dynasty.