Thinking About Dwight Howard’s Next Contract

Darius Soriano —  May 20, 2013

To be completely honest, I can’t find the strength to get worked up over any report regarding what Dwight Howard will or won’t do when it comes to his impending free agency. I just can’t do it. We’re still only in the middle of May and free agency doesn’t begin until July 1st…there’s simply too much time left in the process to get worked up over this stuff.

That said, the very well regarded Ken Berger of CBS Sports is reporting that Dwight Howard will explore his options in free agency and that teams like the Rockets and Mavericks “intrigue” him. These are teams with good players, cap space, and other desirable traits that should intrigue Dwight. I can’t blame him, I’d be intrigued too. Again, though, I can’t get too caught up in this stuff. Not only is it early, but this is Dwight’s call to make and he can do so on his timeline. He’s earned that right.

So, rather than focus on where Dwight may (or may not) go, let’s look at a different aspect of Berger’s report. One interesting thing he mentioned was the point about compensation and Dwight’s next contract. Here’s the relevant passage:

The clear advantage for the Lakers in their effort to re-sign Howard is the 2011 collective bargaining agreement, which allows LA to give Howard a five-year deal with annual increases based on 7.5 percent of his first-year salary in a new deal — which will be in excess of $20 million. Another team with cap room to sign Howard could only give him a four-year deal with 4.5 percent annual increases — the same arrangement Howard would be limited to if he agreed to leave via a sign-and-trade.

But Howard is only 27, and barring a career-ending injury, he’ll clearly get one more max deal after this one. A four-year deal with an opt-out after three years, for example, would in some ways be preferable to Howard because he’d hit the open market again at age 30 and could then secure his five-year max deal.

The mechanics that Berger mentions are 100% spot on. The Lakers can offer a longer and richer contract. The annual raises would be larger and that 5th year in the contract the Lakers offer would be around $30 million dollars. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

However, Berger is also correct in stating that Dwight Howard is in his prime. In 4 seasons, barring any serious injuries, he will still be in his prime (though maybe nearing the tail end of it) and should still command a max salary. So, as Berger implies, if Dwight were to leave the Lakers he’d likely recoup that lost 5th year represented in the Lakers’ deal he turned down in the 1st year of his next contract (whether that’s with the same team he signs with or another when he tests free agency again). I don’t really disagree with what Berger is saying here at all. If Dwight is performing up to his normal standard, he’s a max player and someone will likely pay him as such.

However, my question is: should they?

The new CBA is only two regular seasons old but it’s already showing us the influence it has on team’s mindsets about roster construction. The penalties against tax paying teams are real and maneuverability under the cap via flexibility in the contracts teams have on their books is looking more important than ever. We’ve already seen the Thunder trade their 3rd best player (and a legitimate star) with an eye on the future payroll implications. The Miami Heat may only have one more full season together before the prospect of being a repeater tax team chokes out their ability to field a roster with 3 max players.

You can also zoom in and examine the circumstances the Lakers are facing this summer as a tax paying team. They can’t accept players in sign and trade deals. They can’t spend the full mid-level exception to acquire free agents. The bi-annual exception isn’t available to them either. Instead, when trying to add talent, they have the veteran’s minimum and a mini-mid level exception. And for their trouble, when including revenue sharing and the luxury tax, will face a prospective payout that equals the GDP of Ireland (that’s not a joke, by the way) is upwards of $220 million in the 2013-14 season.

Getting back to Howard, the 5th year of the contract the Lakers will offer him is roughly the same value of contract they’re paying out to Kobe Bryant in the final year of his contract. Next season, Kobe’s contract will be around half the salary cap; that’s 50% of the cap tied up in one player. Things may not be that severe with Dwight’s new deal because over the next 5 years the the cap will only continue to go up (and it will be influenced by the new TV contract that will be negotiated). But even if his deal is only 35% or 40% of the cap, that’s still a lot of money to tie up into any player. It’s the type of contract that drastically affects your salary cap and, thus, your ability to build a team that can remain competitive.

This isn’t only true for the Lakers, of course. Any team that takes on Howard will likely be looking at this same dilemma in 5 years when it’s time to re-sign him. If you’re the Rockets or the Mavericks or the Hawks (or any other team that has his Bird Rights) when his next contract expires, you’ll be looking at a player who commands the type of “super” max contract that is difficult to build around and that almost guarantees you’ll be a tax paying team.

Will teams want to commit that to him (or any player, for that matter) as they learn more and get smarter in how to navigate the new CBA?

I’m all for re-signing Dwight Howard to the Lakers. And if I were one of these teams with max cap space I’d be shoving all my chips to the center of the table to try and acquire him as building block for today and the future. I always say you get the talent you can first and then worry about the rest of the details later. However, when we’re 5 years down the line and his contract is eating up a large portion of the cap and helping to contribute to what are likely to be large luxury tax payments, just remember that we saw this coming. The new CBA made it so.

Darius Soriano

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71 responses to Thinking About Dwight Howard’s Next Contract

  1. This is between LA and Houston, Dallas makes no sense. The problem I see as a Laker fan is that in terms of the roster, we’re trying to fix something where Houston is building something. The Rockets have a nice core of talent in their 20’s with a couple of great trade pieces as well.

  2. For the sanity of all of us, I think we should ignore the presses’ need to make this a circus and just wait till July. IMO if Dwight wanted to stay here, he would have made a decision much earlier. Using hedging maneuvers to play up his options is ridiculus. If he doesn’t want to play in LA then leave and we’ll all move on. He’s making this another Orlando and it stinks.

  3. Great thread and insight, Darius. It’s simple if Dwight wants history and expectations he’ll chose Lakers. If having fun is his top prority he’ll choose Rockets.

    When discussing Dwight the first thing that comes up is his defense. That’s the side of the floor he’s most valuable. His offense is average and his defense is where he wins teams games. Can a player keep up the form Dwight was from 07-11? He was an absolute monster on defense much better than he was this year and he wasn’t bad on defense. Could it be a few coaching adjustments to use his strenghts and put him in position to succeed that brings back the 07-11 Dwight? Maybe. He was playing alongside Turk, Lewis, Nelson, Lee, Pietrus. None who are 1st or 2nd team defenders but he found a way to be the best there was on that end of the floor. Add some great coaching to scheme well and Dwight may turn back into that guy. If Dwight was 07-11 form and he shot 49% from the line fans could look past that. No schemes and struggles on defense, not reliable from the line (especially in big moments) and needing to be spoon feed offense isn’t a great combination.

    Last 5 years Dwight grabbed 12% of offensive rebounds when he was on the floor. This season 10.4%. He rebounded 31.3% of defensive rebounds. This season 27.4%. His rebound rate has gone down, ft% has gone down and stls have gone up. Telling because that means he’s using his hands more than his lower body. I’m not sure if it’s physically possible for Dwight to get back to that 07-11 form without elite coaching on defense. And may not return to be an effective offensive player he was those year without elite 3 pt shooting and elite coaching.

    Dwight said in his exit interview that he wouldn’t sit back this time around and let reports linger that weren’t true. So if in the coming days if he doesn’t refute this new rumor we know it has legs. And why wouldn’t it in Houston he can do something he can’t in LA, at least not next year, have fun.

  4. Robert from a previous thread:

    rr: landed Paul, Howard, and to a lesser extent, Nash.” – Well no we did not land Paul as unfair as that was. Nash is someone we really don’t want factoring in his contract now (3 years was too long). And have we “landed” Howard or did we just rent him? We will see.

    ___________

    1. They completed the trade for Paul. That is pretty much all they could do.
    2. The support of the Nash deal was essentially universal. Kobe’s deal is too long and too expensive as well. So is Pau’s. Cost of doing business, as you might say.
    3. I already said that if Howard leaves, you can put that in part on the FO. Not entirely, but in part.

    And, I think that “85%” you tossed out was a bit too high on the coaching side. Scott Brooks’ team took down Gregg Popovich’s team last year…and Alvin Gentry’s team swept Popovich’s team in 2010. Mike D’Antoni beat Phil Jackson twice in a row in postseason. Coaching makes a big difference, but everything starts with roster.

    As to Howard, I think it is up in the air. I doubt that he knows.

  5. Last 5 years Dwight grabbed 12% of offensive rebounds when he was on the floor. This season 10.4%. He rebounded 31.3% of defensive rebounds. This season 27.4%.

    I haven’t checked the numbers, but it is likely that this is in part a function of sharing court time with a guy as tall as Pau.

  6. The problem with DHoward is that he has shown he is not the type to make difficult decisions on a timely manner. The problem for him is that his other preferred destinations may not be willing to wait forever for him to decide. The Lakers are not in that position. Even other don’t sign Dwight, their lack of cap space even with Hiward gone limits who they can sign. So, I think, in a way Howard’s hesitation is beneficial to us.

  7. Ok, now for the elephant in the room – A. Smith. His comment on radio this AM is now blowing up on all the local sports stations. Oh boy, do the fans get to chime in now. It sounds like something the ‘talking heads’ could simply make up out of whole cloth to get ratings. Dwight’s new demand? Jeannie takes over running the show and brings back Phil Jackson or Dwight walks – a fan’s dream.

    Not only are we getting full of ourselves, but there are a few unintended consequences to this line of thinking. Phil won’t come back as just a coach, so is he now the final say on all basketball decisions? Which other NBA teams offer Mitch a job as their GM and how long does it take for him to decide (3 seconds)? Does Jim want to permanently vacation on a South Sea island?

    Jerry Buss is hardly in his grave and we have already dismissed Jim Buss from the Laker organization. Boy, we fans sure do have a lot of power! What next? Should we collectively run for President of the U.S. of A?

  8. I wish I knew the sources of Stephen A on this one. Personally, I think this is a joke. Not only would this mean Jim is out, but also Mitch. And to boot, Phil is on record as saying he wants a FO position and not a coaching one. So I guess the idea here is to swap jim and mitch with with two individuals who, although talented, would be rookies in their respective positions within the Lakers. Oh, and who would coach the Lakers during this period of flux? Oh, and given the harsh reality of our cap space this year this is appealing to Dwight in getting to a title in what capacity?

  9. Rusty Shackleford May 20, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    Stephen A. really said that is what his sources are telling him Dwight is demanding? Can anyone think of a more ludacris condition a free agent has ever asked for?

  10. Sounds like Smith’s source is Robert. ;-)

  11. Not only are we getting full of ourselves

    Speak for yourself.

    Also, the connection between Smith and your preoccupation with the fanbase needing to know its place in the scheme of things is tenuous at best. Smith almost certainly got this somewhere; while it does seem farfetched in some respects, I have no idea how reliable it is, and frankly, I don’t think you and Manny P do, either.

    Recall that when Howard sat down for a long interview right before the ASG, Smith was the guy he talked to. Also, Howard supposedly wanted Phil originally, and reports are that Howard does get along well with Jeannie. Does that mean it’s all true? Of course not. But as a guy who makes a big deal every day about how the fans are irrelevant, don’t know anything etc, you should probably take your own advice and defer judgment on this until we have more information.

  12. I hope Mitch has some idea of where Dwight’s head is before this draft. If Dwight leaves us outright and Kobe is gone for 50/75% of the regular season we will be officially in rebuilding mode and our record will reflect it. Would be nice to get a key asset or two in this draft (if possible) in anticipation of getting another young building block with the Lottery selection we’ll earn next year.

    Maybe the basketball gods will grant us Andrew Wiggins next year!

  13. My point was that pretty much every possible scenario is out there and being discussed as if it were a possibility. In that environment, what we are dealing with is just like trade speculation.

  14. if the report is correct, it does confirm the issues some have suspected. Jim Buss is not making a good impression, as shocking as that is to some here.

    The demands seem hard to believe. Sounds like the DH everyone knew in Orlando…

  15. rr: Well – as we know – the FO and the players do read this site : ) Hence why Kobe always seems to hit the accelerator as he approaches milestones, as listed in the Kobe Alert. Further, I personally contributed to the FO being forced to pull the trigger on the D12 trade – at least that is my version. : ) So it is only fitting now that after dozens of posts about Jim and MD (I am under exaggerating the number of course – it could be hundreds), that others are beginning to catch on : )
    Craig: The Lakers are not a democracy. Therefore – open rebellion is the only way to get regime change.

  16. RE: Dwight reportedly wanting Jeannie to run the franchise, I think the situation would really be Jeannie in the Jerry Buss role of mostly signing off on moves, rather than dictating them. I don’t know that Mitch necessarily has to go, since I don’t think Phil really wants to be involved in discussing minutiae of the salary cap, negotiating with agents, etc. Mitch seems to be able to just go out and do his job of getting players. While Phil might be a rookie at a front office job, someone remind me again what qualifies Jim Buss to make basketball decisions for the Lakers? I’d take a lifetime of playing and coaching over racing horses and a few years of learning from Dad.

  17. The dream: Jeanie (Chairman); Phil (President of Basketball Operations), Mitch (GM), Brian Shaw (Coach), Derek Fisher (Ast Coach), Chaz (Bartender – just so we have some continuity)

  18. I hope these demands from Dwight are true. If these demands are met, the team benefits, Dwight (along with Pau and Kobe) benefits and the fans benefit.

    If the choice is between signing Dwight, getting Phil, promoting Jeannie versus keeping Jim, losing Dwight and keeping MDA……. That’s the very definition of a no brainer.

  19. darius: to the extent, rolling our eyeballs of the latest report(s) regarding all things orlando howard, we’re with you when it comes to exerting any strength or giving credence to his impending free agency hyperbole.

    imagine you were once teacher of the year at one of the lausd schools and during your exit interview and prior to your vacation you spoke of an impending job market in the ocusd or the sfusd. life in the nba must be grand. in the real world, things don’t quite work that way and that is why it is hard to get worked up over what or might or why or when orlando howard makes up his mind as to his future with or without the los angeles lakers. must be grand to not have to think and feel in terms of the real world.

    can hardly wait? hardly.

    Go Lakers

  20. Manny and Craig.

    Clearly Smith source is ME!

    I said exactly that after the final game on Laker talk and on here. Another words he is just quessing.

    By the way if Dwight signs a 3 year deal with Houston and then another max deal after that and you include no state tax, he makes more net money then signing a 5 year max deal with the Lakers.

    Two things I am very sure of. Dwight will not resign and Donny Baseball will be fired before June 1st. If I am wrong then no more free alcohol for my sources.

    Keno

  21. Craig from the Work thread: ” but to claim they were universally dumb in hindsight just isn’t presenting the facts correctly.”

    Any inference of what I said as panicked, disingenuous, or “dumb” is presumptuousness of interpretation. Barnes flaming out in this years playoffs is irrelevant to the fact that he was not on the Lakers this year and that I was directly referencing the need to replace him with the like or better. It gets stated on this board a number of times of times by numerous people that Barnes should have been retained. That was not going to happen if his own words were true. Similarly with Shannon Brown, he went for the money and potentially greater playing time. Why fault him for that?

    The front office has let speed go. Artest for Ariza got them that victory over Boston, in my opinion. No team has won the NBA championship every year so to conflate that “…left them where they are now” as some kind of slight towards any of their prior success is again bringing an excessive amount of defensive hysteria to the discussion. Way off base. This years team was battered to all hell and still made 7th in the West. Whereas it turns my stomach as a fan(atic) that The Heat or The Spurs will probably notch another championship, it doesn’t diminish that everyone who was allowed to play in that stretch run left it on the floor to the best of their ability. But man, it was hard as hell to watch this year. I’m not one who thinks that the jack-up-the-3-fast NBA model is absolutely superior to a slower team with size and a good plan. When it comes down to it for all of the failures and friction on the Lakers, the West was very tight in team records at the also ran level.

    General:
    Coming into next year, should the Lakers be so fortunate for Dwight’s bottle to spin their way (YUCK at the metaphor), finding someone who will mirror his defensive energy on the perimeter is my main concern. At all times there should be at least one cat on the floor who is quick as all hell. This would help Dwight feel like he’s not the only one committed to D but also take a load off of Nash. I don’t know if that player is available at the Lakers pay scale. My favorite Laker for the last few years, MettaRon, has an uncertain future and is no longer spectacular on defense. Good on D, great hands, slow feet. My all-time favorite Laker is Michael Cooper. That’s my slant.

  22. Stephen A does good work but his last 2 rumors were absurd. This one where Dwight wants Jeanie to run things and Phil to coach. The other being the Doc Rivers, Garnett and Pierce trade to the Clippers.

    Since I recently found out Lakers can trade players I’ve done more digging for ways Lakers can improve. The 2012-2013 cap is $58,044,000. The luxury tax line is $70,307,000. The only decisions aren’t Dwight shedding some money would be a logical one. If Lakers were to amnesty Metta, buyout Duhon and decline Meeks option all which are not far fetched at all. Lakers would have 5 players (Kobe, Pau, Nash, Hill and Blake) for $64 mil. Assuming the caps would be similar to this year’s (a smart assumption because since 08 the cap has been $58 mil) the Lakers wouldn’t be too far over and would be under the luxury tax. Being only $6 mil over the cap Lakers could possibly get under with a Nash trade or a package of Hill and Blake for 2nd rounders. They both are on expirings. Seems like quite a stretch to assume the Lakers can get under the cap being so far over. If they can could they sign cp3 first then Dwight next since they own his bird rights?

  23. And fans do have a lot of power – especially in a place like LA where people pay ridiculous sums for courtside seats and most are barely watching the game.

    If the lakers suck, those seats are empty – just as they were after shaq left.

    If you put aside the silly whining about fans (sounds like we should just follow blindly like a cult) and just focus on dollars and sense – this year just leaves a really bad impression for casual fans. Two coaches, screwing over Phil, kobe gets hurt and that may be it, and now Dwight is potentially leaving. (Die-hards would be quick to point out we did make the playoffs)

    It’s not a promising forecast.

  24. Serious question: what makes Jeannie more qualified than Jim to run this organization? Please site examples and not your “gut” feelings. Jim has made some major mistakes but has also had some shinning moments. Please help me understand. I’m waiting to be educated and convinced.

    As far as Phil, were does he fit in if he’s not coaching? He’s a coaching legend and no one can question his pedigree as a coach, but running the FO is a different monster. Please convince me he is an improvement on Mitch.

    Not trying to be a pest, just trying to pint out that there are huge risks in the moves some of you propose.

    Now as far as Steven A, from history I can tell you that this organization does not respond well to demands made in the public forum. Shaq asked for a raise. He got traded. Kobe wanted a trade. He stayed put. Ariza wanted more money. He was not resigned. History has taught is this FO has a short temper – so don’t shake the tree unless you are prepared to deal with the hornets.

  25. MannyP: Jeanie has been involved in the Lakers longer than Jim has, however that is not my reason. I have a few reasons: 1) Jim – in my opinion – is a meddler. What I want from an owner is to hire the right people, set a direction, sign the checks, and get out of the way. I think Jeanie will do that while Jim likes to tinker. 2) She handles the press and public relations so much better than Jim does. He is just not charismatic. 3) She looks and dresses better than Jim. Does anyone dress worse than Jim? 4) She has no connectons to Mike Brown, MD, or Chaz.
    Phil is not a proven commodity in the FO – this is true. The benefits for me of this pipe dream (and that is what it is – who knows if any of this is based on anything) is that we rid ourselves of Jim and MD, and if we can get Phil, Shaw or B Scott as coach that is a windfall. If the price of all that is making Phil – President of Basketball Ops – so be it.

  26. I honestly think what happened this year was a complete disaster and should be locked away and never spoken of again. Jim Buss wants to win just like everyone else but he may want to win his way. Phil wants to win but he wants to win his way. Kobe wants to win and he wants to win his way. Many successful throughout history are stubborn to a fault and they usually come out on the better end of things. Maybe Jim should be given a chance to prove if he can win his way also.

    Just adding to the list of Dunleavy, Webster and Brewer. A few guys who may be cheaper than Meeks. All role players who can shoot and seem to be more knock down shooters than streaky ones.

    Goudelock 37% from 3 in 41 games

    Anthony Morrow career 42% from 3.

    Randy Foye 37% career from 3. Shot 41% last year.

  27. So…we are going to risk it on Phil, essentially replacing Mitch (Mitch will follow Jerry West if Phil takes over, IMO), because Phil and Jeannie are more charismatic? Also we think Jim is a ‘meddler’.

    If there is an organization that plays it closer to the vest than the Lakers I would like someone to point that team out. There is simply no question Jeannie is more charismatic than her brother and she has been with the Lakers longer. What that means is that her father probably understood her strengths and weaknesses – regarding the Lakers – very, very well and he chose Jim to lead the franchise ownership. She was placed in charge of business affairs and was the front-person for the organization. I am not trying to claim any insider knowledge, but I am willing to give Jerry Buss the benefit of the doubt – just 3 months after his death – that he knew what he was doing. Because Jim doesn’t deal with the public as well as his sister certainly shouldn’t preclude his ability to make basketball decisions. At the same time, because Phil is arguably the greatest NBA coach does not mean he has real skill in choosing or developing talent of front office people, let alone making drafting decisions.

  28. Robert: I have an open mind but “dresses better” is not really a very convincing reason. My point in asking what I aske is that I really do not know if Jeannie would be better given that Dr Buss did not involve her in that side of the business preferring instead to involve his sons. Jimmy will never be like his Dad- but we no one will ever be quite like Dr Buss.

    So again, I’m open to be convinced. Truthfully, I want to be convinced. So please convince me. Surely at least someone here can convince me at least on Phil?

  29. Robert. Cross Scott of your list. He is close to signing with another team. His attorney is a regular at the local cigar store I frequent.

  30. As a Rockets fan,I’m cautiously letting my hopes rise,but I still think it’s better tahn 90% Dwight stays in LA. That said,two things.

    Darius,you’re right about the salary situation,BUT…
    In 2016 the National TV deals expire. And barring an economic collapse,the next deal is expected to be at least 25% better,which has serious implications for the Salary Cap and the Lux Tax threshold.
    Unless the Lakers go crazy this yr,they will barely be over the Salary Cap in 2014 and should be able to stay below the Lux Tax threshold in 2015,thus resetting the 4 in 5 yr clock.

    Should Dwight decide to sign elsewhere I’d be shocked if the teams didn’t agree to a Sign-N-Trade anyway,ala Lamar. While there may be no incentive for the other team,there’s always building goodwill and forming a better relationship that could come in handy down the road.
    Should that happen the Lakers would have a $20mil TPE to go FA/Trade shopping.
    (Which may be a reason Mitch wants an early decision from Dwight-to go after a top FA before he signs elsewhere. Same logic applies to a prospective FA’s team as it does for Lakers and Dwight. If your FA is leaving,rather see him go for nothing or at least get a TPE that might come in handy?)

  31. Anonymous: Does not surprise me – as he is a good man. Looks like we got “smoked” again.If that happens, I will replace Scott with Rambis. There is always a plethora of ex-Lakers who have been shunned by the organization.
    MannyP: You raise an interesting point. Do we make decisions based on most qualified” or “gut feel”? Perhaps a review of our last coaching decision would be in order – what was the basis for that? Supposedly a gut feel that he was better for our roster if I remember correctly. I don’t think there is too much debate as to who was “most qualified”. Jim and Jeanie are equally qualified in that they were born into the Buss family. I do not know how Jeanie would do and nobody else can present any evidence to you of how she would do. We do have evidence of what Jim has done. I also have no evidence of how Brian Shaw will perform as head coach, but I have a 20 year track record to review with regard to MD. By the way – MD always looks sharp : )
    triangle: “blindly like a cult” – Good one.
    Hale: Michael Cooper – Wow – the match ups against Bird, the 3 pointers, the chants of “Coop” when he came off the bench.

  32. Robert & Hale:
    The Coop-A-Loop, which they now call a lob. Before Byron Scott, no one could shoot 3’s so Coop took it upon himself to become the Lakers 3pt shooter, defender and backup pg. No such player with that mentality among the youngsters that the Lakers have.

    Sigh…where have they all gone?

  33. Even pretending this ridiculous rumor is true, why on Earth woulld Jim and Mitch willingly take themselves out of the organization for a player? Unless you’re picturing a mutiny where Jeannie and Robert storm the practice facility while Phil meditates in the parking lot,, this ain’t happening no matter what Dwight asks for.

  34. How did Mitch become involved in these rumors? According to StevenSmith, Dwight wanted Phil, presumably as the coach, and Jeannie to replace Jim. Even when Phil was a Laker, he had some say in personnel decisions, but that’s a far cry from taking over GM duties from Mitch.

  35. Im sorry, call me old school but i dont believe in players dictating demands to his employers on how to run a franchise, especially a player with no standing whatsoever like Dwight, this is not the Magic and the only way a player can have some clout on this organization is by winning championships not one not two, several championships, Kobe have that clout and even he dont get what he wants all the time. I think this story is bs a just a ball that somebody is rolling downhill to get momentum and to create controversy and news. And i never seen a player turning down a max deal yet. If Dwight is smart he cant be thinking about recouping that fifth year on his next max because there is just not a guarantee he will get it, what if he hurts his back again? What if he develops ” Bynum knee syndrome”? What if he tear his Achilles? What if he have an accident off court? There are so many things that could happen in a 4-5 year span to just be thinking about the next contract when he havent sign this one yet. If he is smart, he have the opportunity of a lifetime here, the best franchise the best city the best opportunities outside of basketball and a passionate and demanding fan base. If the FA playing field was even and any team could offer him a max Houston would make a lot of sense, but the Lakers advantage financially wise should be decisive, and Houston tradition? Im sorry i respect that franchise and loved the dream but the only reason they have those 2 championships was that MJ was stinking up the minors playing baseball. They havent done anything before or since, somebody needs to take Dwight’s hand and show him and teaching what real tradition means.

  36. I think we can all say that this power move was expected.

    Dwight wanted Phil when Brown was let go – could have played like Shaq in the triangle and instead was used as a screener in MDAs system where he was not a central poit until all the players shot out MDAs system.

    Dwight also sees the clippers letting chris paul do whatever he wants so that he resigns with them so why wouldnt he look to do the ame thing here after he had already done this in orlando.

    And as sad as this is to say – if im dwight – he goes to the rockets – bunch of stretch 4s – 2 good slashing pgs + chandler, parsons, deeper bench – he makes them a top 2 team in the west or stays with us to be a 4-7 seed

  37. @Shaun if the Lakers bring Gasol and a healthy Dwight back and Kobe returns with some semblance of what he was lets say 85% and that nasty injury bug goes away next season i have no doubt in my mind they are a contender, injured and flawed as they were they played on pace to be a near 60 win team after the ASG, before the bug really clamped down on the team down the stretch, good enough to win it all next season? probably not but they will have to be dealt with, and lets not forget summer of 2014. The Lakers will be fine

  38. Dwight to Howard to pair with Harden would be like T-Mac and Yao Ming all over again, with equal excitement and uncertainty. I think it is a possibility, and I would not discount Dallas with Dirk taking less money, lesser role, and even lesser space in the paint. Although I am not sure what kind of players they would send over that would make such a deal palatable.

  39. Red flags everywhere. His indecision, quitting on Orlando, his teammates there not having nice things to say about him on his way out, proudly saying he texts Phil and Stan for advice to the media, running around the room with a stat sheet about Kobe and finally getting swept. This guy is a clown and distractions outweigh the talent. He is not hte second coming of Mikan, Kareem, Shaq or Pau. He’s living off accolades and a finals run 4 years ago. Lakers aren’t going nowhere with him or without him. Keep the flexibility and let him take the clown act to Houston. Lakers always draft franchise guards. Marcus Smart, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker await next year.

  40. Is this all Dwight? If these so-called demands are true there are others who stand to benefit. Is Phil leaking information to the media? What about Jeanie? They’d never do that right?

    Why would Dwight create another spectacle after what happened last summer? All he has to do is go to Mitch in private and say Dantoni or me. Mitch either follows suit or shows Dwight the door. If Howard were to walk after this kind of season few people would really blame him. Why create a firestorm by asking for the coach, GM, and the owner’s son to step aside? Let me write that again. Why would Dwight’s camp leak information requesting the OWNER’S SON to step aside? Howard is a lot of things. But he is not that brazen.

    This is definitely an attempted power grab. But is is not Dwight Howard doing the grabbing.

  41. Obviously if Dwight Howard did say that, then he is really deep in the rabbit hole.
    To think Jim would step down to re-sign him is ludicrous, laughable, ignorant, disrespectful, and telling.
    Let the over-hyped one go to Houston, then we can laugh next year when the circus comes to town.

  42. Why did Dwight do all those shenanigans to the Orlando organization last year? Nothing is beyond belief with this guy!

  43. Robert,

    Rambis by all accounts did an awful job in Minnesota and Byron Scott’s track record as a coach is spotty. IMO you need to ratchet down the sentimentality for the Showtime Teams, and for Fisher. Complaining about Jerry West working for the Warriors, who had their best season in awhile, makes more sense.

    Craig,

    We know that your MO is to always give the FO the benefit of the doubt and to lash out at people who criticize them, but I think you need to acknowledge the possibility, that as shrewd as Jerry Buss was, he may not have been 100% objective about the capabilities and weaknesses of his kids. Time will tell.
    ___________________________________

    McMenamin’s new piece:

    http://espn.go.com/los-angeles/nba/story/_/id/9296662/sources-dwight-howard-voiced-displeasure-mike-dantoni-gm

    “According to sources with knowledge of the situation, part of the discussion between Howard and Kupchak centered around Howard’s frustration with D’Antoni — particularly how the center felt marginalized as the coach looked to Bryant and Steve Nash for leadership and suggestions and discounted Howard’s voice.Every player was afforded the opportunity to meet with Kupchak individually after D’Antoni left the room, but few spent as much time as Howard and Kupchak did together. Antawn Jamison also had a separate meeting with Kupchak without D’Antoni present, but that was because of a scheduling conflict.”

    “Despite the frustration Howard had with D’Antoni last season, there is nothing to suggest the partnership is irreparable. “It’s not a, ‘It’s me or Mike,’ situation for Dwight,” said a source.”

  44. Kevin and Trollman,

    Don’t confuse how you feel about Howard with what he does between the lines.

    And Robert is right: we always need to remember that Jeannie, Jim and the rest of the Busses–all of whom are on the Lakers’ payroll–are where they are in large part due to being named Buss. That doesn’t mean that they don’t know what they are doing, but Jim Buss did not land his job running the Lakers as the result of winning an exhaustive executive search in open competition. If Jim decided to do something else, and the Lakers simply hired someone for a version of his job, well, I think there would be a few qualified applicants.

  45. TRogers,

    That makes some sense, but if MDA gets canned, the media will immediately tie it to Howard. If the entire FO gets overturned and Jim and Jeannie do a King Lear thing, that will take some of the heat off Howard. So, I agree that there may be a Phil/Jeannie power play in the works, but I don’t think that would hurt Howard’s rep any more than Kupchak simply firing D’Antoni would. Phil and Jeannie in the saddle would be a bigger story than Howard alone.

  46. “Trollman.” Heh.

  47. Warren Wee Lim May 21, 2013 at 4:58 am

    Kevin_

    You posed a question with regards to free agency and the rules revolving around it. Something I wrote in the previous thread might help you:

    In 2014, when the contracts of nearly everyone not named Steve Nash and Dwight Howard would have expired, the Lakers face a crossroad. Here are common misconceptions I have noticed from our commenters that I would like to help correct:

    1. By 2014, whats on the Lakers books will be Steve Nash’s 9.7M salary and what would be Dwight Howard’s year 2 salary pegged at 22 Million. A total of 31.7M in total salaries, do not immediately equate to cap space as the team’s free agents continue to occupy a portion of the payroll in what is called a “cap hold”.

    2. Our own free agents have varying amounts of cap hold. These amounts are often more than the amount of the final year of their salary. That means, Kobe would have a cap hold of 30 million. Pau Gasol, 19 million. And so on…

    3. Unless these players sign a new contract with another team shall their cap holds remain hanged on our payroll. Making it technically impossible to sign anyone via cap space. The 2 other choices are if we sign them ourselves to new contracts (thus taking up space) or we renounce them, meaning we no longer possess our free agent rights to them.

    4. Kobe’s health status further complicates matters. IF he were healthy and not thinking of retirement, the most ideal course of action is to negotiate Kobe for an extension of significantly lesser amount. This would constitute the “paycut” that everyone refers to. But because of yet another rule in the CBA, the over-36 rule, the ability of free agents to sign huge contracts have been limited.

    5. Just because we have an estimated 28+ million in cap space does not automatically mean we have our next franchise star. You would have to know which guys are would-be free agents in 2014 to be able to assess which ones have the possibility of signing with us, if at all.

  48. Warren Wee Lim May 21, 2013 at 5:06 am

    As for Dwight having these demands, etc… Stephen A. Smith, Jeannie vs Jimbo…

    The Lakers are a proud, well-run organization. I share Craig’s frustration in alot of fans’ “entitlement” to call Jim Buss names and label him a failure just because we couldn’t win one this year. Mike Brown hired, fired, and now Mike D’Antoni… all these involved Jerry Buss and Mitch Kupchak, but its just more convenient to blame Jim coz he doesn’t have Jeannie’s charm, or Phil’s rings.

    The fact of the matter is, Jerry entrusted the basketball side of things to Jim for a reason. If for all intents and purposes that it fails, then its Jerry’s fault. Its not Jeannie’s call to revolt and kick his brother out. Thats just the opposite way of how some of you think a well-run corporation like the Lakers are.

    No player should be worth more than the organization. Much moreso the Lakers. Kobe means alot, but Jerry was prepared to trade him in 2007. Shaq made his case, but he was traded when he caused potential problems.

    So please, for those that couldn’t help but criticize, I suggest you get yourselves some perspectives. Wide ones. As far as I know and I’m concerned, I would choose to remain loyal to the Lakers management, and this is something said objectively. If you’ve lost confidence in ours, I heard other teams have “greater” fans.

  49. Warren Wee Lim May 21, 2013 at 5:08 am

    I would like to clarify, in case it gets misinterpreted, that I do not mean the comments above as sleights to Jeannie or Phil. I believe those 2 are at the top of the food chain with their respective jobs. I just choose not to intrigue the Laker siblings in this matter than clearly is just media-spun.

  50. The only problem is… what do we call it this time??? DECISION PART TWO? or DWIGHTMARE PART TWO? (Oh yeah! called it!)

    Bigger, better! With more drama, more diva, more DWIGHT!

    Starring D12, Kobe, Mich Kupchak and Mike D’Antoni.
    I swear this is soap operatic levels!

  51. Shadows that are shadowing: Wilt, Kareem, O’Neal
    If he moves to Houston: Yao, Hakeem
    Dallas: Tyson Chandler
    Sacramento: Vlade (trolllolololol)
    O man… this Dwight. Do the lakers really need him? Or do we need to rebuild?

    Me… brain… hurt… too.. much… D12-Diva

  52. Nothing worse then a whiny talented prima donna who cant make decsions without creating animosity. Fans have to tolerate it because we value the team more than the individual. Hes not coming back to LA unless the Lakers fire Dantoni and hire Phil or his coach of choice which may not even be an option.

    By the time hes through dancing with all these teams, he will be so despised by Lakers fans that even if he decides to come back and says the right things at the last minute, he will be the franchise whipping boy for length of his time here. He cannot handle that and it will put more pressure on him to win a title. Hes a nice piece but hes no Shaq, Kobe, Magic etc.

    The Lakers lose no matter what he does.

  53. Snoopy: Your comment above has just made my season highlight list for the Lakers. I got a good visual on that one.
    Buss Family: They are not the first family to have the reigns of a business move from one generation to the next. Usually when that is successful and “well thought out”, it was preceded by decades of mentorship from parent to child, and years of the child watching the parent at work. That did not happen here. Jim was not even involved in the Lakers for most of his life.
    WWL: Loyalty and criticisms are not mutually exclusive. For example some people have written dozens of comments about trading Pau. Is that being disloyal to Pau and the Lakers? Should the people doing so – go find other teams to root for? Trading one coach for another or one owner for another is no different than trading players. It just depends on your perspective of who you think is good for the organization and who is not.
    rr: Yes – I probably have too much loyalty to players who played on championship teams – just like others have too much loyalty to coaches or owners. So I am guilty of that. That said – when comparing coaching candidates or players, should we not give the tie to the guy who has a background with us? Why would we hire someone who has no ties to us unless there is a compelling qualification reason to do so? You do not always pick the person with the longest Laker resume, but at least give me a compelling reason why I shouldn’t (and later if that reason – such as “better for the roster” – ends up being false – please correct the mistake).
    MannyP/WWL: Manny asked for compelling reasons and now I am asking for the same. Why did Jerry pick Jim over Jeanie when she was more qualified at the time? Nobody knows. If you want to have faith in the fact that Jerry did it, therefore it must be correct – that is fine by me. And we can all still root for the Lakers by the way – in case anyone thinks otherwise : )
    George Best – Well said. And so how did we get here? Is it Dwight’s fault? Is it the FO’s fault? Can we blame either or is that being disloyal? So we just follow. Ours is not to wonder why, ours is just to cheer and cry.

  54. This is Stephen A. freaking Smith we are talking about! Exactly what is he known for? He is not a top drawer, journalistic, reputable reporter – no matter how deep his sources.

    Because he said so we have thrown Dwight Howard, Jim Buss, Mitch Kupchak, and possibly Jeannie Buss and Phil Jackson under the bus.

    Let’s get real here. Consider the source. That’s why I named him in my original blog entry.

  55. Warren,

    You stated that if Jimbo turns out to be a failure, it’s Jerry Buss’ fault. By that same reasoning, if Mike Brown and MDA turn out to be failures, wouldn’t that make it Jimbo’s fault?

  56. LT mitchell,
    You are making the assumption that it was Jim Buss who sponsored and hired Mike Brown and Mike D’Antonio. I thought we had pretty much concluded that it was a 3-party discussion with Jerry Buss having final say. Exactly why do you feel all the ‘blame’ should be laid at Jim Buss’ feet? This is fitting the facts to your prejudices going into the situation.

    How about we spend some time discussing what we think the team will/could look like if Dwight Howard elects to leave the Lakers? Wouldn’t Mike D’Antonio be a pretty good coach to have in that situation?

  57. Where is Howard’s comment regarding Houston?!

    Media and journalist are just doing their job to create some hype.

    We’ve been fans for a long time and media is BS.

    Stop acting like you don’t know this at all.

  58. Robert: The criticism of Buss on the hiring of MIke Brown (which I detested) is understandable and well-placed. On Mike D, like it or not, he gets an incomplete due to the injuries. Mike D will get his chance this year to prove someone right. But, Jim has made some good decisions that have helped this team out tremendously. Among his good decisions has been the rehiring of Phil when, according to “sources” published around the time, Dr. Buss was not to keen on bringing Phil back. He was also key in drafting Bynum and headed the basketball side of the team during each of the times we got Pau, Chris Paul (albeit short lived), Howard and Nash. That’s a pretty solid track record on the player side that one (or even two) bad coaching decision do not override. Plus, neither you nor I know what Phil asked for with regard to the coaching position: we know he was seriously considering the job – but we also know now that he is very serious about a FO position – so perhaps he was unreasonable with his starting bid for the position. Also, as others have pointed out, nepotism put Jim in charge of the Lakers much the same nepotism helped Jeannie head the business side. Dr Buss is way more qualified than any franchise owner on this earth so if *he* decided that among his kids it was best for Jim to head the basketball side and Jeannie the business side, then I have to side with the guy that brought 11 championships to LA and not some guy writing on a blog (sorry pal, please do not take it as an insult – just trying to make a point). One final note: Remember that Jerry West is on record as saying that Phil Jackson “had no respect for him” (google it) and was critical of the way how Phil envisioned the Lakers should be run from a basketball operations point of view. In fact, he also said he was POd at the direction the team would head if this philosophy was adopted and he was probably upset that the team seemed to side with Phil (do you think Jeannie played a part here?) (West once said that you need good players to win a championship and a good coach may help you win more games with bad players but he cant win it without good players). It was widely speculated that this played a big role in Jerry’s decision to leave the Lakers. So, why is it so hard to believe that others in the Laker organization not named Jeannie may feel some trepidation in bringing Phil back in any capacity – let alone an expanded capacity as Coach/FO Executive?

    Craig – Stephen A is likely being played by Howard’s people or other people interested in seeing Howard leave the Lakers. SA does not care about fact. All he cares about is seeing his name in the news and feeling relevant. The word “vanity” comes to mind every time I see that guy. At any rate, we know that Howard had a lengthy exit interview with Mitch. So, if he disliked MD to the extent Stephen A and some here believe, I am certain someone as smart as Mitch and who has been around the league and players so long would be able to pick up on those hints (assuming Howard did not outright say so). So, if there is a “Dantoni or me” demand out there, the FO knows it and there is no need for Stephen A to be involved.

  59. Let’s get real here. Consider the source.

    Sure. And look at what Dave McMenamin wrote.

  60. The Lakers are a proud, well-run organization.

    Again, except for Kupchak, these are not your daddy’s Lakers. You can defend Jm Buss if you like–I have done so at times myself–but he made a lot of changes, and in addition to that, the Lakers’ Living Legends are no longer working with the team. The way to defend Jim Buss is by defending moves that have actually been made on his watch.

  61. rr: Dwight has plateaued. Amazing that a guy with his physical talent can’t put together an effective offensive game for himself. Maybe he doesn’t want it bad enough.We can see somebody who does, LeBron. His fg % has gone up the last 7 years. A career 33% from 3 he’s shooting 40% this year. He keeps getting better 10 years in. I think Dwight’s talent dictates he should be in the Lebron, Durant class. He shouldn’t be grouped up with Westbrook, Kobe, Bosh, Paul, M. Gasol and Rose. Last few years each of these 8 guys have gradually gotten better or added another weapon to their arsonal Dwight hasn’t. It’s all alley oops, bread basket finishes and highlight blocks. He’s fundamentally sound on defense but not as great a player as you make him out to be. Then you add the always blaming others and pointing fingers the headache doesn’t become worth it.

  62. If Smith’s sources are right, it would look like Dwight is looking to engineer a sufficient pretense to bolt and not look that bad. Demanding what a lot of fans would want then leaving when not delivered is a good way to deflect attention from himself to the FO.

    I would really like the Lakers to drop salary this year, buy some draft picks, and sift for a few Gems and be in good shape to add certified talent the next year. This is the way you rebuild now. No one can retain large contracts indefinitely anymore. Not even the Lakers.

  63. Craig,

    That is your assumption, not mine. My assumption is that was nothing but a PR ploy to take some heat off of Jimbo amongst the rising wave of criticism for how he handled the Brown hiring without consulting Kobe, and how he handled the MDA hiring. My assumption is that Jerry was in his death bed for the past couple years and had very little involvement in the franchise for the past five years.

  64. He’s fundamentally sound on defense but not as great a player as you make him out to be. Then you add the always blaming others and pointing fingers the headache doesn’t become worth it.

    Howard is a Top 15-20 guy and an elite defensive centerpiece. Even if the Lakers get a “franchise guard”, they will still almost certainly need a high-level big to compete. Having Howard here also probably makes the team more likely to be able to sign guys to go with him.

    Basically, if your alternative plan is fantasizing about Jabari Walker and Andrew Wiggins, that just underscores the need to sign Howard.

  65. Darius said it right at the start of this thread. The situation will be resolved in Dwight’s good time. He has the right to choose where he wants to play and what offer he wants to accept. We’ll just have to wait and see. All the worrying and speculation is pointless and draining.

  66. Wouldn’t Mike D’Antonio be a pretty good coach to have in that situation?

    Short-term, no, probably not, if they simply move Gasol to the 5, since Gasol is very slow and does not seem to like MDA either. Also, if Howard walks, there is really no reason to keep Nash. I would see if PHX would take him back for a pick in that case (if that is legal).

    If Howard walks, 2014 will probably just be a farewell tour for Kobe and Pau. What the team will look like after that or how MDA might or might not fit is anyone’s guess.

  67. MannyP: That is a very well articulated and thought out post. Further I actually agree with many of your points. That said – perhaps where we differ: I am more “entitled” and unreasonable than you are. I therefore grade everything Lakers on a very tough scale. A decent performance is not good enough – it must be outstanding. Your points about the player acquisitions are good and overall Jim scores well here (the second tier guys being a weakness). That said – for me – the issues occurred at coaching (you say you at least partially agree in the case of Brown which was the start of the disaster). So to evaluate Jim, it is like looking at a race car driver and saying that he ran the car well for most of the race, and then he ran into the wall. Well the wall is part of it : ) Again – great post.

  68. RR- Well, Nash is under contract and I doubt we buy him out. So I think he’s here for the duration of his contract, regardless of what happens to Howard.

    If Howard walks, the tough thing for this team will be to complete the roster with 1 year contracts so that we have good cap space for could be a strong 2014 free agent class – assuming minimal re-signings. Also, and I don’t want to give Robert a heart attack, assuming Howard walks and keeping in mind that Kobe will be out most of the year, perhaps the best plan may also be not to make the playoffs. Then, we have cap space and picks for 2014 – not a bad place to be (assuming we still have rights to any picks in that year).

  69. “Howard is a Top 15-20 guy and an elite defensive centerpiece. Even if the Lakers get a “franchise guard”, they will still almost certainly need a high-level big to compete. Having Howard here also probably makes the team more likely to be able to sign guys to go with him.”
    ——-

    This is true. Look at the final four teams. Memphis has Gasol/Randolph. San Antonio has Ducan/Splitter. Indiana has Hibbert/West. Miami is a special case. They have LeBron. If you don’t have LeBron or Durant you better have an effective big manning the box.

  70. Having fun playing appears to be the most important part for D12 and there is nothing wrong with that. You can see the strain on Pau’s face now and even when we had Phil, it is hard to always play “Championship or Bust” Basketball. Kobe accepts that challenge because basketball is his love, his passion and his legacy. Playing for Houston with a younger team and an established superstar would be FUN for D12. He would definitely be in a better position, especially if they can add a Chris Paul. Linsanity is now expendable and I can see him traded just because his salary had the poison pill in it for the first year. That was to deter the Knicks from re-signing him. The same can be said for Asik (Chicago could not afford to match the offer either). Both of these players are good but not great.

  71. go back to the MAGIC