Despite Collective Disdain, The Lakers Should Retain Dwight Howard

Phillip Barnett —  June 4, 2013

[Note: Tonight's post was written by Daniel Buerge, the Editor in Chief of LakersNation.com. Make sure you check him out over there and give him a follow on twitter at @DanielBuerge_LA]

Oh, the offseason. It’s a strange time for everyone. Whether it’s absurd speculation or random video clips of your favorite player talking about Desperate Housewives (is that still a thing?) on Chris Ferguson’s couch, the basketball withdrawals are frequent and take many different forms. While the season is still technically going, for Laker fans it’s long over. In fact, most people have been looking toward next season since about the third month of the last one, and now everybody else is finally catching up to them.

This offseason, however, is a little different for the Lakers. Although free agency hasn’t started yet, it seems that fans are already bracing themselves for the worst. As if prepping for a hurricane, Laker fans have boarded the doors and windows, refusing to let reality breach their consciousness. In fact, it’s worse than that now. We’ve reached the denial stage for many of Los Angeles’ most loyal followers. Somehow, in the midst of all the disappointment over the last 12 months, we’ve seen the evolution from disheartened to downright denial. Fans have begun to convince themselves that Dwight Howard isn’t the right choice for the Lakers. And that’s simply not correct.

Now, Howard didn’t have his best season in 2012-13. In fact, it could be argued that it was his worst. But that is nowhere near indicative of the kind of player Howard is. And, more importantly, how big of a drop off there is between Howard and whoever the Lakers think they’re going to replace him with.

Let’s play a little game. When the Lakers traded Shaq in 2004, they took a calculated risk. O’Neal was getting older and less productive, and they thought they might be able to match 60-70 percent of his production by using a filler player. Someone like, you know, Chris Mihm. We all remember how well that worked. See, now that’s the problem with the idea that letting Howard go isn’t going to cost the Lakers that much. Even if you believe Howard will never get back to the level he was at when he was going through Defensive Player of the Year awards like they were Pez, he’s so much better than any sort of alternative option out there that it’s foolish to believe the team will be able to plug in replacement parts and hope they can replace Howard’s production.

So, in his worst season, Dwight averaged 17.2 points, 12.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game.

How did the best big men in the league stack up to those numbers? Let’s look.

Brook Lopez: 19.4 PPG, 6.4 RPB, 2.1 BPG
Roy Hibbert: 11.9 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 2.6 APG
Al Jefferson: 17.9 PPG, 9.3 RPB, 1.3 BPG
Al Horford: 17.4 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 1.0 BPG
DeMarcus Cousins: 17.2 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 0.7 BPG
Chris Bosh: 16.6 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.4 BPG

Interesting. Suddenly Dwight isn’t looking like such a dismal prospect, is he? And, you also need to remember, these are the league’s ELITE centers. The best in the business. These are guys the Lakers aren’t going to come anywhere near acquiring if they lose out on Dwight. They’ll be more likely to land an average-type center. You know, a Chris Mihm-type. So how about those numbers? What does the statistical breakdown of the median of the center world look like in the NBA in 2013?

League Center Average: 7.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 0.9 RPG

I’ll save you the trouble of getting a calculator and let you know that that’s 10.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks fewer than Howard.

Basically, if you subtract Roy Hibbert from Dwight Howard you have the league average center. That’s how good Dwight’s numbers still were, in a season where he had three coaches, two injuries, and one ball-dominant shooting guard in his way. Yet, in the face of all this evidence, fans seem convinced that moving away from Howard is the way to go. Some say he doesn’t have the mental tenacity to handle life as a Laker. He doesn’t embrace the legacy.

Who cares?

As fans we’re far more romantic about all that stuff than the players. We like to idealize these situations, because to us it would be tremendous if our favorite players were as passionate about our teams as we are. But that’s not the case. In reality, players want financial security, a chance to win and a fun place to live. And, a lot of the time the first two will supersede the third (not that the Lakers have ever had to worry about that since they hit the geographic lottery).

In the end it comes down to an uncertainty about the future that is the root of all these problems. Fans are afraid. The end of the Kobe era is closer than many want to openly admit, and the guy who has to follow a legend is always seen through lenses thick with skepticism until they’re able to prove themselves. Nobody thought anybody would be able to follow Joe Montana. Then Steve Young came along. Nobody thought anybody would be able to follow Joe DiMaggio. Then some guy named Mickey Mantle showed up. Nobody thinks anyone will be able to live up to Kobe Bryant. But Dwight Howard has as good a chance as any.

And let’s not forget, nobody thought the Lakers would be able to survive after losing Baylor, West, Wilt, Kareem, Magic or Shaq either. I’m sure we all remember how that went.


*Statistics provided by HoopData.com

Phillip Barnett

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56 responses to Despite Collective Disdain, The Lakers Should Retain Dwight Howard

  1. You spelled disdain wrong

  2. #HowardstayinL.A

    I said all along that Howard would not regain any semblance of his former self until January, I was just about on point (the same will be true for Kobe). What if the Lakers had retained Brown and the Lakers made it to the WCF’s with Dwight playing the exact same way that he did this year. Would there be such antipathy towards him playing for the Lakers…probably not. He’s easy to be the fall guy because he’s new to the Lakers. Kobe gets a break because, well he’s Kobe. Nash gets a break because he was injured and not used properly. D’Antoni gets a break because he never had a training camp. Meanwhile, Howard gets no love for coming back early and playing through pain.

    Going forward, everyone has to stop thinking that Dwight is going to be the player that will win the Lakers a championship, and start thinking of him as the piece that will get the piece that will bring the Lakers back to the winners circle.

  3. Dwight Howard is just Dwight Howard. I have been a Lakers Fan for 30 years and will be for life. The Lakers has had the worse luck in all the times that I can remember. As I can see it Brown was a bad deal, and a very bad coach. Now with that being the case, when you have bad, incompetant leadership, everything else seems to just spiral down. Just like having a bad President. So with all this, and the injuries, and especially the leadership of Kobe being brought to a halt, well whatever else could happen.? Anything and everything bad can happen., but life is not over. True and loyal fans won’t give up on the Lakers, because they just experienced some bad karma. So I will hold tight to the Lakers and wish Dwight Howard the best! Get with the program guyz and gals, the Lakers will never, ever die:))))

  4. Dwight Howard is just Dwight Howard. I have been a Lakers Fan for 30 years and will be for life. The Lakers has had the worse luck in all the times that I can remember. As I can see it Brown was a bad deal, and a very bad coach. So I will stay with the Lakers, as a true loyal fan should, and wish Dwight Howard the best. Lakers all the Way!!:))))

  5. I completely agree that from a basketball standpoint, it’s in the Lakers’ best interest to sign Howard. But these things don’t occur in a vacuum. A league-average center most certainly wouldn’t tie up over a third of the team’s cap space, either, leaving more financial room to spend on talent at other spots – a vastly different equation. With that said, I do believe Howard will be a different player with more time for recovery, and it makes every bit of basketball sense to re-sign him.

    Salute to the Pacers for a great series. Never would have thought Hibbert coming out of Georgetown would develop like this, or prove to be the league’s best kryptonite against a truly special team.

    But while I was rooting for the Pacers, as a basketball fan, this Heat-Spurs matchup is drool-worthy. The 2 biggest matchups for me: Popovich vs Lebron, and Parker vs the Heat’s pressure defense.

    I can’t wait to see what the league’s ultimate tactician tries to limit a vastly improved player than the one he faced in 07. And Parker is arguably the league’s most savvy pick-and-roll operator, especially against traps and pressure defense. Watching how these two defenses scheme and adjust to stop Lebron and Parker is going to be epic. And like last year, going into the Finals, I have no idea who’s going to win. I was wrong last year, but I’ll go with the Heat in 7. Just think Bosh will re-discover a lot of his game with Hibbert out of the picture, and enough of the Heat’s shooting role players will step up at various times to turn the series. But I could very easily see a Spurs banner.

  6. Dwight re-signing is likely also the only chance for Kobe to get one more Ring, assuming that Dwight regains his old D-dominant self and of course Kobe also recovers. There is no other free agent out there that has the potential to boost the defense to championship-level, except for LeBron which is a long shot. Yes, they need better coaching to get to the D needed to compete for a championship, but they also need defensive talent. Dwight is that talent, the anchor in the middle.

    The other alternative is to tank and go for Wiggins or whoever. But there’s no way Kobe will stick around for a 4+ year rebuilding effort.

  7. Warren Wee Lim June 4, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    I too see this as a huge advantage to the Spurs. I saw a rift that we never once saw when the Heat were riding out all those wins. Now is the moment of truth and I just see Parker as the prototype PG that would kill Miami.

  8. “after losing Baylor, West, Wilt, Kareem, Magic or Shaq”
    When Wilt retired (Baylor already gone and West gone the next year), it started a 6 year Finals drought (we made the Finals his last year).
    When Kareem retired (Magic’s announcement – 2 years later) – the next 10 seasons did not produce a banner (we made the finals in Kareem’s last year).
    When Shaq was traded: It started a 4 year drought without a banner (made the Finals his last year as well)

    Interesting that all three of these famous LA centers made the Finals and lost in their last years as Lakers. We are already 3 years without a banner and 3 years without a Finals trip. For a franchise with our record of 31 trips and 16 banners, these types of droughts listed above are huge. So is this list going to be added to with a title like?: When the Veto occurred, the coaching selection brain freeze occurred, and then DH left …………

    I am and always will be a life long Laker fan. Let’s retain D12 at all costs.

    And yes rr – entitled indeed – but I do not believe in Laker Manifest Destiny. Titles must be earned. They are not inherited.

  9. Dwight is a player who relies on his strength and speed and not his technical skill. Where technical skill can overcome an aging body a player who relies on his body deteriorates profoundly as his body does.

    Dwight is a good gamble for the next 2 or 3 years not 4 or 5. In Lakerland next year would likely be a wasted year. So we might get 1 or 2 good years of opportunity with Dwight out of 5 years. Thats not a good investment.

    And we would not have an average Center come in if Dwight walks. We would have Gasol. And since their skills overlap, we may get a lot more bang for our buck out of a PF more suited to play with Gasol then playing Gasol at PF with Dwight at Center.

  10. TempleOfJamesWorthy June 4, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    There’s a problem with your comparison of “elite” centers

    Lopez, Hibbert and Horford all make $12-$13 million per year
    Cousins is not elite, but he’s cheap (rookie scale contract)
    Al Jefferson is currently making $15 million/yr, but who knows what
    he’ll make as a 2014 free agent.
    Bosh is no longer an elite center, yet the Heat are paying him
    $19 million/year.

    If Dwight wants to be a Laker for 3 years at $13 million/year, his desirability goes way
    up.

    If the Lakers are going to pay DH12 the full 5-year, $118 million super-max contract, I want some indication that Dwight really wants to be a Laker, will give the Lakers his very best efforts, and won’t wilt under the pressure of being the franchise centerpiece.

    Otherwise, we still have $19 million/year tied up in another excellent center who probably should BE a center at this point in his career, rather than an oversized overslow power forward who can’t guard his position anymore.

    If the Lakers are going to tie up $67 million at two positions (Gasol + Howard at center, Kobe at SG), then they’d better be getting production that justifies that investment.

  11. We would have Gasol. And since their skills overlap, we may get a lot more bang for our buck out of a PF more suited to play with Gasol then playing Gasol at PF with Dwight at Center.

    Pau turns 33 in August, has enormous mileage on his legs, recently had an unusual procedure done on both knees, and even if he discovers the fountain of youth, his contract only lasts one more year. Howard’s contract may be burdensome at the end, but that is the price of doing business, unless you have a Duncan situation. The Lakers are going to be paying Pau and Kobe almost 50M this year unless Pau gets traded. Most top-level players are overpaid at some point late in their careers. And, then again, Howard may retain enough athleticism to make a five-year deal work. Hard to say.

    Again: you, and most people making the anti-Howard arguments should just say, “I don’t like Dwight Howard, and I don’t want him on my team” because that is mostly what it comes down to. I don’t really have a problem with that–fandom is a subjective thing–but the analytical perspective, be it statistical or historical or both, strongly favors retaining Howard.

  12. Nice post and oh so true. Dwight is a very good player. I think that looking ahead, Dwight will have serious reservations about re-signing with the Lakers for onf simple reason: Kobe Bryant’s injury.

    With Kobe’s future so uncertain, Dwight probably knows that the pressure to deliver a winner will fall exclusively on his shoulders. He also knows that the current champs, Miami, have multiple players to team with the game’s current best player in LeBron James.

    Not having Kobe as a factor, makes the Lakers a much less attractive destination for Howard IMO. The new model for free agents is to hook up with another talented free agent or an incumbent superstar. Without Kobe, the Lakers are just another team.

  13. Regarding the Finals, I see Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole as very important as the Heat try to slow Tony Parker. They may even sic Shane Battier aka the Butcher on the Frenchman.

  14. Renato Afonso June 5, 2013 at 3:12 am

    Vasheed is right. We do have a certain Pau Gasol on the team that was actually our center in two consecutive Finals (remember how shaky Bynum’s health was?).

    If we can perform a sign-and-trade with some team that nets us a PF and a good perimeter defender, we won’t be in a bad shape. We might actually be better off than rolling with DH12.

    We need to remember that Kobe will be injured for the first few months and won’t play much longer beyoond next year (if he plays at all). We need to get some cap flexibility for 2014 while remaining competitive this upcoming season.

    We have Blake and (hopefully) a healthier Nash at PG.
    Kobe is injured. Meeks and Goudelock won’t be able to replace 50% of his production, but again, this is temporary problem.
    Ron Artest is severily overpaid at this stage in his career. If we can get a good perimeter defender with a possible sign-and-trade, then why not amnesty Ron and roll with a young player? We do need athleticism
    We should resign Earl Clark and get a starting PF so that we can have a Clark, Hill, Gasol and random PF rotation.

    As Kobe, Gasol and Nash come off the books, we will have some continuity and cap space. I feel that the core above (without Dwight) can make a run at the finals next year.

  15. Warren Wee Lim June 5, 2013 at 3:39 am

    Dwight will choose the destination that best fits both getting paid and winning in the next 3 seasons before he’s considered “old” … he knows that his skill as a super-athletic big and not as a skilled big will diminish as his body fails him in his mid 30s.

    That said, I think Houston is in the lead and we’re a close 2nd with lots of turn-offs, and Atlanta has the best outside chance to win his services, esp with the overtures they’ve been sending their season ticket holders.

  16. Phil, I’m with Vasheed on this one. If Dwight is gone, you aren’t going to replace him with some average dude off of the street. Unless LA is looking to totally start over, they will replace him with a pretty darn good low post threat from Spain. LA might (heavy emphasis on the uncertainty) be able to get some pieces for the money saved.

    All that said–Dwight resigning would be preferred.

  17. mindcrime: I am going to Detroit this weekend to see Metallica and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Flea is a huge Laker fan and he also as an opinion on our coaching.

  18. How did the best big men in the league stack up to those numbers? Let’s look.
    ____

    I did and I have a question for Phillip in regards to Daniel Buerge’s post. What happened to Marc Gasol? Was he purposely omitted or accidentally overlooked? Personally, as I’ve stated before within the FB&G Community, there’s no comparison between a ‘healthy’ Dwight and Pau’s younger sibling, but, especially if you take into account that he was named Defensive Player of the year this season, he has to be viewed as an “ELITE” Center in today’s NBA.

  19. Nice post Phillip –
    There´s no doubt in my mind:
    Dwight Gotta Stay!
    Pau and DH are a nice tandem to have on one´s squad, IMO

    Hoping for a very entertaining finals, rootin´ for the Heat, would like to see them take S.A. down in 7 – (go Riles and Doo!)

  20. rr-

    I’m not just anti-Dwight. I didn’t want Bynum either. The best years had Gasol at Center and Odom at PF. I thought Bynum & Gasol skills overlapped too much. The Lakers tried to solve this by shipping Gasol and Odom out for CP3. That failed then instead they trade Bynum for Dwight. I do think Dwight was an upgrade but he represents the same team structural problems Bynum did.

    I do also think Pau fits with Kobe and this team better then Dwight from just accepting his role, being professional in the camera, and just not being a black hole when the ball goes into the post. We have a lot of high IQ players on this team and the ball should move. Pau does that.

    I think Pau’s knees and feet are less risky then Dwight’s back.

    I do think management has really seeded a lot of problems between them and Pau. But now is a good time to set things right. Now is the time for management to sit down with Pau and Kobe with a blue print for 2014 with how they plan to make a contender.

    For me its not just “I don’t like Dwight”. I even think Dwight is a better player then Gasol if healthy. But from a perspective of building a team or looking at the risks involved I would choose Gasol. And I don’t think a team where they are both on the floor is an ideal line up.

  21. dwight’s decision is going to reflect more on the franchise than anything else. this is really one of the few times in laker history where they don’t have the leverage, especially after this season, in this negotiation. Despite making the playoffs, so many things went wrong. DH has got to be convinced that next year, and the following years, will be better based on the plan the Lakers provide.

    DH is not the sharpest guy in the world, but I think he’s smart enough (or his team is) to figure out what are his best options. And I’m not entirely sure that winning a championship is the ultimate driver, because his limitations as a player are a serious impediment to getting a ring.

    So while I do think his decision says more about the lakers than it does about himself, I’m hoping he’s going to surprise me with the reasoning behind his decision.

  22. I didnt know it was the Lakers choice to resign Dwight. He has all the cards and the salary difference is not that much because of taxes etc so he may well sign elsewhere. I also dont think he has any thought about the history of the Lakers that makes it much more special to be a Laker versus a Rocket or Maverick. He does not think like that. He wants love and admiration with someone else carrying the load to the finals while he cries about not being the main guy.

    Hes a talented prima donna who is going to get a max contract because of the potential and that is what he costs. Even if he signs here, he is going to be liked just like ARod is in New York and nothing short of a title will get him much from the fans but hes a necessary piece to a puzzle all Lakers fans want to put together.

  23. trianglefan – I respectfully disagree that for Dwight winning a championship is the ultimate driver. If that were the case, Dwight would have opted out early from Orlando, become a free agent a year ahead of schedule, then signed for a non-maxed deal with a contender.

    Like you said, DH is not the sharpest tool in the shed, but he has advisers. And those advisers, if they are worth their money, would tell him to maximize his earning potential through guaranteed money for as long as possible, with the hope that he can continue playing as long as possible before injury or age take their toll on a guy that is really a bid undersized for a center. So, he stands to make more loot if he stays here than if he goes to another team. Oh, and by the way, I don’t buy all that nonsense about not paying state taxes being a huge factor. While I am of the position that money matters, playing for the Lakers, with their horde of fans, provides DH with certain financial opportunities he would not enjoy in Texas and definitely did not enjoy in FLA (where, coincidentally, he also did not pay state income taxes). In the end, we all know that playing for the Lakers brings a certain cache and global exposure that teams like the Magic and Rockets (without Yao) simply do not bring.

    While I do believe Dwight would not sign for the Lakers if he thought they would be bottom dwellers for the next 5 years, I think that he would be comfortable signing with them if the Lakers can pitch him a 5 year plan that shows him the team will remain in the playoff hunt for at least some of those years.

    So, in short, I think his decision will speak more about what *Dwight* really wants than it will about how he feels about the Lakers chance of winning it all within one year.

  24. Now is the time for management to sit down with Pau and Kobe with a blue print for 2014 with how they plan to make a contender.

    ____

    This isn’t 2009, and the Lakers are not running the Triangle. By the time season starts, Pau will be 33 and Kobe will be 35. Pau missed a lot of time last year, and Kobe’s career may be over. Both of them have a ton of playoff mileage and Pau has the international mileage. Even if Howard walks, the team will be well over the cap. There is no “blueprint” in 2014 that does not include Howard which will realiastically lead to contention.

    Yes, there is some risk with Howard’s back, but he will not be 28 until December. Unless you think James is coming here, there are no FAs available in either 2014 or 2015 who are better players than Howard is.

    As Robert has said, people should look at how other teams and fanbases are seeing the possibility of adding Howard.

  25. I’m not too convinced that Pau Gasol can be much of a game changer at center at this stage of his career. 30+ minutes at center for 82 games is a lot to expect from the Spaniard, IMO. This is not 2010. As a complimentary player to Dwight, yes. As the Lakers full time center, no. Pau’s inability to protect the rim is his biggest drawback.

  26. MannyP – I think we’re in agreement. You bring up some very good points.

    I said:

    And I’m not entirely sure that winning a championship is the ultimate driver, because his limitations as a player are a serious impediment to getting a ring.

    I think the lakers, historically speaking, have shown a serious desire to win. I’m not sold that Jim Buss has done much to advance that cause. I don’t question his desire, but a lot of his decisions are questionable. The CBA makes it harder for sure as well. You can’t spend your way out of it like you could in the old days.

    And if it’s jim buss that’s making the case, or making a part of it, then that’s a concern. If it’s a committee of Kupchak, Kobe and Jim, the odds are better, but I’m not entirely sure kobe’s style is one that dwight likes. But so many players would kill to work and learn from a guy like kobe, and I just don’t know if DH has that desire/brains/work ethic, whatever you want to call it.

    And his problems (post up game, free throw shooting, footwork) those are all issues that will worsen with age. I don’t know how many years left he has to correct them. One trait of great players is that they bring something new every year to their game. I don’t recall seeing that with dwight.

  27. I’m still wonder who the big fish is some fans expect to get if Howard walks. Let’s say you are entertaining the fantasy that LeBron opts out of South Beach and comes to Hollywood. Wouldn’t he (or any other major free agent) be more willing to consider it if Howard is already here? This generation of players is different from years past. No one wants to be the lone star in a city anymore. That goes double for a high profile market like Los Angeles. Howard is important because he can be a draw for other high level free agents.

  28. triangle: “I don’t question his desire, but a lot of his decisions are questionable” Exactly. Jim has the financial part covered and he has the desire. Problem is that he meddles. If he would leave the running of the team to Mitch, he would be the perfect owner
    T Rogers: “who the big fish is some fans expect to get if Howard walks” To some, it doesn’t matter that we do not know who it will be. It will be someone and they will win rings for us, because that is how it has always been.
    Plans: Clips have a plan for retaining Paul; Rockets have a plan for getting DH; Hawks have delusions of grandeur, but hey it is a plan; We need a plan and I feel that the Laker FO should brief the FBG community and gain our approval before proceeding.
    rr: The good news is that unlike the fans, I truly believe that the Laker FO has zero doubt about wanting to keep DH. I do however have questions as to whether they are maximizing their chances. It is that desire vs. decisions thing again.
    Darius: Have not thanked you for running a great board in a while. Everyone here has different opinions (which is good), however the level of conversation and content provided by the contributors is significantly better than other sites.

  29. Robert

    How the heck do you get to pick up and go to Detroit to see a rock band? That comes from a guy who was in the music biz for 25 years yet still has to work everyday. Either you are actually Kobe in disguise or I need to have your life.

  30. If I were Lakers FO and I had the opportunity to S&T Dwight for any of one CP3, Rubio, a group of Nuggets, group of Warriors, or a group of Rockets, I’d do it. Not one of those “top big men” listed earlier was a top 15 player in the league. Dwight isn’t a max player, but he’ll get max money. If it was my money, I’d let somebody else pay him.

  31. Warren Wee Lim June 5, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    The fact that Dwight earns 120M/5 (24M average salary) makes me drool at Al Horford at 12M per year. He is a necessary sign if we wish to be competitive, but trading him to Atlanta isn’t so bad either.

    We need to fuel Cp3 to Atlanta (mock the Clippers) so that Dwight joins him there and give them a way to retain Josh Smith.

  32. Not one of those “top big men” listed earlier was a top 15 player in the league. Dwight isn’t a max player, but he’ll get max money.

    _______________

    Feel free to prove either statement.

  33. Kobe and Pau are aging. They are not going carry min. vet players to the championship anymore. But if you get them each to play for less money, surround them with mid tier guys and a decent bench and you got something. Building a team with just max player contracts is very difficult now. Your roster gets filled with min salary guys trying to round out a team. The beauty of the Lakers situation is that after next year the slate is clean and the Lakers can fill out a solid roster around Kobe and Pau.

    rr the problem I see with your view is that you are stuck only thinking about max contract guys. Also Dwight might be a young guy but the injury he suffered really does threaten to shorten his career. Hes not a finesse guy running around the 3pt line, he is bumping and pushing against big guys with a lot force. I think he may have luck with the dice and contribute 2 or 3 solid years but long term hes not worth the money hes going to lock up.

  34. Keno: I would rather be going to an away Laker playoff game, however that plan was foiled. So I needed an alternative. By the way one of Metallica’s lyrics is very close to the words you used in one of your recent posts:
    “Point the finger, slow to understand; arrogance and ignorance go hand in hand”

    rr: I think many are becoming skeptical if DH will sign with us, so they are trying to see the half full side of this reality (the – we are better off without him mentality) .

  35. Robert,

    Perhaps that is correct.

    FWIW, the only claims I am making for Howard are:

    1. He is among the top 20 or so players in the NBA.
    2. He is the best option the Lakers have that is realistic right now.

    That’s it.

  36. Warren Wee Lim June 5, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    Its no secret that were significantly weaker w/o Dwight. For me its about focusing on signing him and having a legitimate plan thats not just cap space in case he wants out.

    In case he wants out, our best bet is for him to like Atlanta.

    1. Its in the East
    2. They have a unique opportunity to pair him w/ Cp3
    3. They might fancy a big three movement w/ Josh Smith on board

    Those 3 things favor us IN CASE we do indeed lose him.

  37. rr the problem I see with your view is that you are stuck only thinking about max contract guys

    Nah. See the post above; I am making two claims, and two claims only, about Howard. Neither is really disputable. And the only other “max contract guy” that I have talked about is Kevin Love, for three reasons:

    1. He can play outside and would complement Howard.
    2. He will be a FA in 15 if he so chooses.
    3. He was born here and went to college here, and is at present playing in a cold-weather city on a struggling franchise.

    The problem with your view IMO is that you are stuck thinking it is 2009. The Kobe/Pau era is over.

    It is possible, certainly, that one or both of them might play roles on a strong Lakers team over the next 2-3 years. But they both have too many questions and too much mileage to make either of them the focal point of any future plans, much less both of them.

    In the CA Clark piece I linked above, he basically argues that the Lakers are better off if Howard leaves because that means that they will be terrible next year, and the 2014 draft is awesome, and that it will be awesome, essentially, to have an expansion team with the Laker brand–to start with nothing except a high lottery pick, a lot of cap room, the banners on the wall, and hope.

    Leaving aside the fact that he mostly ignores that Nash is as of now under contract for 2015, the whole thing after that is daydreaming (LeBron James, Andrew Wiggins, Chris Bosh, other unnamed “elite free agents”–although he does mention Love; how exciting it will be to assemble a team more or less from scratch, etc). And who knows? Maybe Clark will prove prophetic, and in 2033 we will all be here reminiscing about the Andrew Wiggins era and wondering who will lead the Lakers to their 24th and 25th banners, and Dwight Howard will have been forced into retirement at 31 because of his back.

    But right now in the real world, based on what we know, the team is better off if they can keep Howard.

  38. In case he wants out, our best bet is for him to like Atlanta.

    Correct; I said this awhile back. It gets both Howard and Paul out of the conference, and it hurts the Clippers.

  39. Warren Wee Lim June 6, 2013 at 5:59 am

    Chris Paul leaving LA? Dwight Howard leaving LA? Heading to… Hotlanta?! Yeah that’s going to be really interesting.

    I started a discussion on RealGM with regards to Atlanta hopefully getting creative to accommodate a third star in the form of Josh Smith. He is their own free agent and his bird rights enable the Hawks to form their version of the big three “given the right circumstances”.

    Now the proposition of them making a big three that for me, is a defensive monster and 50x better than that of Miami’s… That’s a big time win. In the process, if all this is true, the Hawks would not hesitate to give the 2 LA teams very nice consolation prizes. Believe me.

  40. Reading the comments, I come down with the idea that this may well be Dwight’s last big contract, because in 3yrs his body is going to start to break down — his type of play, his dependence on athleticism, his back operation. I would very much doubt his doctors or people who are looking to safeguard his money would advise him to sign a shorter contract with an opt out vs a longer contract with more money — especially if he won’t be able to make more outside money than he can in Los Angeles. This argues for him staying with the Lakers pretty decisively.

    Therefore, the real question is likely to be Dwight’s anticipated health in 3yrs? That should inform us of the likelihood of his leaving the Lakers.

  41. Warren Wee Lim June 6, 2013 at 8:51 am

    Craig, pick your poison?

    If he stays, we get the sense his health is not gonna be in tip top shape at age 31 and beyond. And we’ll be stuck with him.

    If he goes, then he should be confident he can stay at a high level. But he’s not playing for us.

    Bummer. That said I still pick option 1. I’ll take my chances with something… rather than pin my hopes on nothing.

  42. rr, I would agree with you on Kevin Love. Hes one of the few guys I would bend over backwards to get him in a Laker unifrom. Kinda nice Nash’s contract would come off the books that year covering about half the money needed to fit a guy like Love no?

    The way the CBA works now it is hard to plan for an 8 year dynasty anymore. So I’m fairly comfortable building around Kobe and Pau for the next 3 years with deeper guys then we have traditionally gotten not then needing Kobe & Pau to carry the team as much.

    I can see the same argument about building around Dwight over the next 3 years. But to think Dwight will be the cornerstone of the Lakers long term I believe is very wishful thinking.

    Another thing as Mitch has commented with that cap space you have to not only look at free agents but also other teams dealing with cap issues. The Lakers could add players not only by free agency but also by trading.

  43. In regard to rebuilding around Dwight. You have to consider how much is it going cost to keep Kobe with Dwight or will Kobe retire. It would be a political nightmare for Kobe to be booted from the team unwillingly.

  44. Rusty Shackleford June 6, 2013 at 10:34 am

    I would love it if Denver just blew it up now. That team has enough depth to fill 3 benches.

  45. Vasheed,

    I don’t think you can really plan for an eight-year dynasty. The team in the best shape to have one was the 2000 Lakers, and we all know that story. With the new CBA limiting contract length and overall team payrolls, “long-term” in today’s NBA is 3-5 years. And yes, Howard’s back might go while the Lakers owe him 50M or more. But people seem to be ignoring that Howard played almost the entire schedule this past year, got better as he went along, and has always been very durable. He is not as bad a bet as people are making him out to be IMO.

    And in any case, the alternatives, are, as I have said, based on daydreams and hopes.

    If the Lakers trade Pau, amnesty Kobe, and go 10-72 this year, they might get the first pick, or they might not. Wiggins might be the next LeBron…or he might be the next Glenn Robinson. James and Wade might have a falling out and James might look at the Lakers in FA…but it seems very, very unlikely.

    And, like I said, any plan revolving around Kobe’s age 36-38 seasons when he is trying to come back from a complete tear of his Achilles and Pau’s age 33-35 seasons when he is coming off a very tough and physically infirm year is IMO simply wishcasting.

  46. - Why are people so concerned with cap space? The luxury penalties may be huge with the new CBA, but the Time Warner cable deal is worth 2 billion, and the next deal will likely be even bigger. The Lakers are one of the only, if not the only team, that can afford to pay consistent luxury penalties going forward. This team will always be built around stars with max contracts. Everyone here seems to be an accountant pinching pennies. That is not the Laker way, not with the Time Warner deal secured for years. The team showed real promise the last two months of the season with a healthier Dwight, despite all the injuries. This team is not far from competing with the likes of San Antonio and Memphis. Don’t let the sour taste of an injury plagued season make you give up on this team and want to start all over from scratch. We are not the Cavs. A core of Dwight, Kobe and Pau, is a great foundation to contend. The last two months of the season was evidence of that.

    – For those who don’t want Dwight for salary reasons….. Have you forgotten how awful the defense was when he sat in the bench? It was a layup drill for opposing teams without Dwight in the middle. His defense alone is worth the max, and he is only going to get better with a full summer to heal and work on his game.

  47. This year seems to be really volatile. Teams seem to be blowing up left and right – especially the coaches. The typical fan reaction is, “Yiphee! Now we can go out and get a really good coach.” The Laker pattern in the past has been to stay quiet, wait things out, then react after others have jumped on whatever bandwagon they see at the moment. This means there are likely to be valuable players and coaches who are left without a team/chair when the music stops. That is the time to swoop in and pick up someone who fits your style.

    I actually think the Lakers are relatively happy with D’Antoni for the next year, but they will be looking to add good assistant coaches – even if only for a year, while the coaches wait for something to open up.

    As for the players, I doubt much of a move will be made, unless a really good player turns out to be someone their club wants to part with.

    Mostly I think the Lakers follow the plan to be under the salary cap in 2014/15 unless Dwight leaves – then they may also be under the cap next year, thus satisfying the 2yr stay under the cap to avoid punitive tax penalties.

    LT mitchell: Wealthy clubs do not ignore tax penalties, they just may be better able to withstand them over the short term. The punitive penalties, however, are just that – punitive.

  48. Another point: the “Be terrible to get good” stuff has become a meme, but what it really mostly means is, “Be terrible the year that Shaq or LeBron or TD is in the draft and pray to the basketball gods that you get the #1 pick” or “Hit on three straight high lottery picks because other teams draft Greg Oden and Hasheem Thabeet ahead of Kevin Durant and James Harden.”

    Houston is in the position they are in precisely because they are not terrible. They had assets to snare Harden and now have a Howard-ready team–just as Jerry West had an asset to snare Kobe and also had a Shaq-ready team back in 1996.

    So, the other way is “Put your team together patiently and intelligently so that you have assets to leverage and are an attractive option when the moment comes.” This is why I think Howard + good but not max FA next year + make a run at Love in 2015 if he is in FA is probably the Lakers’ best bet.

  49. - For those who don’t want Dwight for salary reasons….. Have you forgotten how awful the defense was when he sat in the bench?

    Indeed. I posted a number on this; the Lakers allowed 113 points/100 possessions without him over the second part of the season, and IIRC 104 or something with him. The massive difference was both visually apparent and statistically documented.

  50. LT: You do realize that the tax penalties under the new CBA are not pennies on the dollar nor are they dollar for dollar. The upper end of the repeater penalties are $4.75/per dollar if you are over $21.25 million over the cap. This increases, $.50 for each additional $5 million, over the cap you are. This would mean the Lakers would be paying approx. $5.75/per dollar over the cap. At conservatively $30 million over the cap the Lakers tax bill would be $172,500,000!

    Regardless of how deep the Lakers pockets they would not want to pay that bill on a regular basis. Fortunately there is a chance for a reset next summer.

  51. Teri, even at $170 million, the Lakers would still be making a profit from the television deal alone. The last estimate i heard was around $200 mill a year, and that does not include ticket sales, merchandising, radio, etc. Even with those steep luxury fees, it’s quite possible the Lakers would still lead the league in net profit, which is why I’m so perplexed as to why so many people here seem more concerned about the team finances over building a contender for next season.

  52. LT Mitchell – Sorry bud. Its easy to argue money doesnt matter when its not your money. But I will give you an argument that you can understand:

    If your numbers are right, a $200 mill profit from TV a year minus $170 in salary penalties equals $30 m in profit. But $200 mill in profit with $0 in salary penalties is $200 million.

    So, which of the two would you rather have?

  53. The Laker pattern in the past has been to stay quiet, wait things out, then react after others have jumped on whatever bandwagon they see at the moment.

    This being why:

    1. They hired Mike Brown on an accelerated timetable because he “blew them away” in the interview, at the same time as they passed over a guy who had been with the organization for nearly 15 years.
    Then
    2. Fired Brown less than 30% of the way through his deal and only five games into the new season.

    You should evaluate the FO based on who actually runs it now and on the decisions that are actually made, not on your Platonic ideal of it and your personal connection to the organization’s past.

    MannyP,

    I think LT can add and subtract. His point is that there is really no reason for us, as fans, to be all that hyped up over/worried about the Lakers’ cash flow/luxury tax situation, but people still talk about it all the time anyway. It is part of the conversation, but basically, we presumably care about the team on the floor and winning.

    Also, you are leaving out a few things: revenue from playoff games, additional merchandise sold, both here and overseas, when the team is good, etc.

  54. It appears many Lakers fans indeed are having trouble taking their own emotions out of the Dwight Howard equation. But this article is written with the right approach in mind. It’s all about the production Howard brings as well as the lack of alternative options. Fans seem to have a horrible time even liking Howard, let alone loving and welcoming the guy. I don’t understand it. It makes you wonder if he’s almost certain to take his defense and rebounding where it’s far more likely to be appreciated–most likely Houston. Heaven forbid, but if that happens I’m quite sure a whole lot of fans will be kicking themselves endlessly and mumbling “what were we thinking?”

  55. DTX,
    No! Most of those fans will be cursing the ownership and front office for being inept – conveniently forgetting that they themselves were ambivalent about retaining Dwight Howard. IMO, the only practical way forward is to do what we can to resign Howard and think about alternatives only because no successful organization leaves themselves with no other options. Most of this discussion is because people have convinced themselves Howard is predisposed to leave the Lakers. Sure there is a chance of that, but why endlessly opine about our desperate situation, unless you have total disregard for the Laker organization – which some people seem to have.