Around The World (Wide Web): Free Agency Begins

Ryan Cole —  July 1, 2013

From Dave McMenamin, ESPN LA: The Los Angeles Lakers were assured they would get the last word when it came to Dwight Howard’s free-agency pitch process. Turns out they got the first word as well. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak met briefly with Howard face-to-face shortly after 12:01 a.m. ET Monday when NBA free agency officially opened up, a league source told Kupchak’s message to Howard? “Quick hello and good luck,” said a source with knowledge of the conversation. The Houston Rockets, meanwhile, also met with Howard early Monday in Los Angeles.

From Mark Heisler, Lakers Nation: So Dwight Howard sets his sights on Texas–the perfect choice in a career of looking for love in too many places. Oh, he’s still here? Oh, right, he just started taking presentations, with the huge Rockets’ delegation going first Sunday night at 9 p.m., the moment Dwight officially became a free agent. Of course, the batting order means nothing, which should reassure Laker fans as much as anything Dwight has ever said. Yes, after a two-year vaudeville act of a run-up, in which he messed up every team he played for and tried to go to, he’s free! Remember when there was no downside to being a free agent?

From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: Without the reassuring voice of Jerry Buss, the late Lakers owner whose eleventh-hour phone call prevented Kobe Bryant from going to the Clippers in 2004, the Lakers are turning to two veterans to help keep Dwight Howard in Los Angeles. Bryant and Steve Nash will be part of the Lakers’ delegation that meets Tuesday with Howard to try to persuade him to sign a five-year, $118-million contract. They’ll be joined by Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak and Coach Mike D’Antoni. Team executives Jeanie Buss and Jim Buss are also expected to attend the meeting at an undisclosed Los Angeles location.

From TheGreatMambino, Silver Screen & Roll: In just a few days’ time, Dwight Howard could leave the Los Angeles Lakers. The Houston Rockets have been reported as the center’s top suitor, with LA and the Dallas Mavericks in the mix and the Atlanta Hawks bringing up the rear. It’s a sobering reality to think of a star player leaving the bright lights of Southern California for Dallas, Houston or Atlanta, but Howard is bringing a strange new world to one of the most celebrated franchises in all of sports. As I scan the pulse of Lakers fans everywhere, I’ve noticed a discernible notion that letting Dwight Howard walk is not the worst scenario possible. Some have mentioned that he’s not worth the years or money, while others simply don’t want to build around a player who has such a flair for problematic drama. Another group feels that his prime has come and gone, and his health issues from last season weren’t just a one year malady.

From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: Like a Disney fairy tale, when the clock struck midnight Dwight Howard has gotten what he always wanted, what he has earned the right to by playing out his contract: He is a free agent. As of this moment. For the next 48 hours — starting with the Rockets just after the official start of free agency at midnight as Sunday flipped to Monday and running for a couple days — six teams will come to Los Angeles and get their chance to make a pitch to Howard. All of them will offer him a max contract (the Lakers can offer more with his Bird rights) but this will swing more on other factors, not the dollars. Anyone who tells you right now they know what Howard is going to do is selling something — nobody knows. Not even Howard. You can handicap the field, but the fact is he has wanted this moment, he has wanted teams to come recruit him, and he’s going to listen. He is going to savor this. And we know from experience Howard is not the most decisive guy ever, so this thing could go just about any direction. Here are the teams walking in the door, in my perceived order of their chances.


Ryan Cole


65 responses to Around The World (Wide Web): Free Agency Begins

  1. I am happy the Lakers will get the last crack at Howard.

    Let the guy go out there and see what’s available so that he can realize that what the Lakers have to offer him is not as bad as he thinks: Houston certainly does not have a system that would emphasize the post and McHale is not necessarily regarded as an “elite” coach; if Kaman’s lack of success in Dallas is any indication, the Mavs also have difficulty featuring a post-up offense that does not go through Dirk and outside of having Cuban as an owner do not have much of a roster to offer; the Warrios have West in the FO, but they play in a joke of an arena and have a hockey-size fan base; the Clippers, Knicks and Nets do not have the cap space.

    My only concern here is whether Howard will appreciate that signing with LA is the right choice for him long-term and be very HAPPY with his choice.

  2. There is so much uncertainty around the Lakers both in the FO (specifically surrounding the Buss children) and on the floor. I always felt that the best way to ensure Dwight resigns with the Lakers was to have a successful 1st season. Unfortunately, it was far from that.

    Historically, the Lakers would be a very safe bet to sign with. They have always gone above and beyond to put a winner on the floor. However, that was with Dr Buss at the helm. Honestly, the concerns with Jim and Jeannie plus the new very restrictive CBA do indeed put a cloud over the franchise.

    It’s too bad that Dwight’s FA summer was not next year as I think the outcome would be more favorable for the Lakers. As much as I hate to admit it – I believe that Dwight leaves.

  3. Terri – I do believe you are correct. The key to Dwight signing with the Lakers is the FOs ability to communicate how the Lakers will move forward over the next 5 years. I think Howard’s people will ask as much about FO structure and continuity as they will regarding how the Lakers will retool personnel wise. I just hope that Jim/Jeannie/Mitch are prepared to address these issues.

    While resigning Dwight makes the Laker’s rebuild easier even if he left I believe with the Laker’s cap space over the next two years we have a chance to reload in a shorter time frame than most franchises. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

  4. When I think back to the public ceremony in honor of Dr. Buss- I just wonder how much prodding of that sort will effect Dwight. Maybe he needs a reminder but after seeing Riles, PJ, Kareem, Shaq, Kobe, West and Magic speaking to Worthy, Coop, Wilkes, Horry, Fox, Baylor, all those men Magic had standing up… I mean you could build three or four championship favorites out of the all-time greats and all-time role-players at that ceremony. How many championship building front offices were there? How many TV personalities? I don’t see how how that, coupled with more money, does not sway a player to stay with the greatest franchise in basketball.

    We have gone through many a high stakes elimination game. We have seen bitter rivals meet the Lakers on the court. We have won those more often then most any other team. I’m excited to see how this high stakes game plays out. Hopefully another win.

  5. Terri–

    Good post.

    I think that if Houston gets Josh Smith, that will seal the deal. Smith and Howard are palsies and are the same age. The Smith/Parsons/Harden/Howard core would pretty much guarantee a contention window over 3-4 years and that is all Howard can ask for, really.

    If Houston can’t get Smith, the Lakers still have a shot, but if I had to bet, my money would be on Houston.

  6. ESPNSteinLine Marc Stein
    RT @mcten: According to @jadande, Dwight Howard has spoken on phone w/Jack Nicholson about remaining with Lakers (INSERT ‘TRUTH’ QUIP HERE

  7. I have no idea what Dwight will do. I bet, as of right this minute, even he doesn’t know.

    If he leaves my sense is that the Lakers will roll with their current roster while making peripheral additions this summer. If the Lakers are competitive this year all the better. However, If they are out of it by mid-season then they’ll look to unload whatever they can at the trade deadline as long as it does not impact the cap room next summer.

    It is very much of a feast or famine offseason.

  8. rr: Regarding the Smith/Parsons/Harden/Howard core. I was not aware that the Rockets had the cap space to sign two max contract FAs. Even as a hard core Laker fan I would have a hard time finding fault with Dwight if he decided to join a loaded Rocket’s team like that.

    My only concern is that it seems FAs now days want to join a team that is either already winning or are on the cusp of winning. The Lakers will have a ton of cap space next summer and possibly in the summer of 2015 (should they roll it over). However, it seems to me that the team will struggle on the court and will not be on the cusp of winning. My question is will a FA want to join the Lakers as the first building block or will we strike out because we are too far away? Thoughts?

  9. Been hearing and reading that opt for outside Money is SO much bigger in LA. Yet I saw on a rockets site that Rockets are by far the most viewed and followed NBA team in China due to Ming. Where movies may be available here, the 400 million that follow Rockets in China could mean more to Dwight in future earnings.

    Sometimes it’s good to get views from both sides.

  10. Pete: Bingo. Hence why we want to keep DH and if we don’t we are in huge trouble.
    MannyP: Nice post. I agree with most of what you say and I am not giving up. However where we are different on this is the same place we are different on MD. Your statement:
    “what the Lakers have to offer him is not as bad as he thinks”: That is true, but it is not good enough – we can’t be not that bad – we need to be good. Your further statement:
    “Houston certainly does not have a system that would emphasize the post and McHale is not necessarily regarded as an “elite” coach” It is almost verbatim what the media is saying about us. So what if we had such a system and an elite coach then we would be the clear winner correct? Sorta like the clips with Paul. The Lakers can’t be satisfied with being “not that bad” and that applies to many things.
    Perhaps we will bring in some ringers to this meeting as rr suggests. The issues with roster and KB are not solvable, so we need to solve everything we can.

  11. Pete – Your comment has given me pause. You could be right in that if Dwight walks we may need to build a new core that a top FA will want to join – rather than having a top FA sign on to start a core. That reality could very well lengthen the reloading process. A new core is normally built out of young talent acquired through the several drafts.

  12. Just curious… I heard that Kobe will be part of the final pitch team for Dwight. I was wondering if this is because Dwight and Kobe do not see eye to eye and it’s an opportunity for the two to address any open issues. Or, is their relationship better than we thought and Kobe has some sway with Dwight?

    I think they don’t really get along and with Kobe wanting to play another 3 years – if Dwight stays these two will have to get on the same page.

  13. Robert: I bring up the coaching to highlight to you why I do not think MikeD or coaching is as much of a deal as you think it is. Also, it seems premature to criticize the FO for not inviting “ringers” to a meeting that has not even occurred.

  14. Is it me, or is anyone else weary of Mark Heisler’s schtick? The sarcastic, sardonic, knowing wink and smile delivery? That schtick, or any schtick, wears thin on readers . . . . I really appreciate the assumed intelligence of the reader by the regular contributors to this site!

  15. The main problem HOU have right now it Dwight wanting another max, its going to be really hard getting rid of Asik and Lin, especially Lin with the back end of that contract. That could be a major roadblock and the Lakers are turning up the charm.

  16. As always some people with the overreacting and critisizing a meeting that havent take place yet. The Lakers said they have some surprises, lets see what they are and what happens before starting to whine and moan about things.

  17. was not aware that the Rockets had the cap space to sign two max contract FAs.

    They don’t; it would be an S/T with Atlanta, in which Houston would give up Asik and maybe Lin.

    Looking ahead, the logical plan for the Lakers in terms of FA is to try to get Howard now, a guy like Lowry in 2014, and then Kevin Love in July 2015. Love has ties to LA (born here/went to UCLA) and forming an inside/outside big man combo in a three-point heavy MDA system with Howard might appeal to him.

    If Howard walks…well, the foreseeable future looks bleak.

  18. I suspect he’s gone. In the long run, that’s a good thing. Howard will never be a leader.
    Telling Houston he wants them to get a third superstar He must be including Jeremy Linn in his proclamation. ‘Cause he really isn’t a Superstar. DH is proof positive that stats are overrated.

  19. MannyP: I wrote: “Perhaps we will bring in some ringers to this meeting as rr suggests” How exactly is that criticizing the FO? : ) No need to argue – I said I agree with most of your post, I just want the Lakers to do more. And perhaps that will start with a showing of all the legends and Phil at this meeting.
    rr: I don’t care and I know you don’t either, but the spin doctoring is at work. Two possibilities: The Lakers sign DH in which case we are wrong (even though neither one of us have said they won’t – we have just voiced strong concern). The second possibility is that DH walks in which case that is because DH is a baby and we are still wrong : ) Can’t you see that logic? : )
    Fern: You of all people know that “we” (you included) started to whine and moan about things a long time ago : )

  20. I think it’s very telling that Howard–according to various sources–has asked Houston about the possibility of their signing another player to a max contract. If you delve into that question, you arrive, possibly, at a very interesting (implied) statement: Houston, I like everything you’ve said but I just wish you had one more player. That would give us a Big 3 which has obviously worked at Miami and, several seasons ago, at Boston.

    But Houston does not have the financial means to bring on another max player. Therefore, Howard (who in my view still has not made up his mind) may–possibly–have some misgivings about the Rockets. Am I over-reading this? Any thoughts?

  21. Matt/Pete/Robert: I was ready to let Dwight walk if he did not want to be here. However, I can now see that the path back to being a true contender could be a lot longer, should he leave, than I originally thought. I guess I dismissed the new NBA landscape which indicates that the very best FAs will only join your team if you are already a winner or if you are close to being a winner.

    To be sure we can give our money away to players that won’t put us over the top. If Dwight does walk let’s hope the FO spends cap space wisely – on players that are truly worth it. Spending money foolishly is easy to do which is why a majority of the NBA teams are over the cap yet are mediocre in performance.

  22. Magic Johnson will not be there because of his annual vacation to Europe but he sent a message to Howard on Twitter as well Monday.
    Phil is in Montana; Anyone have a location on Kareem?

  23. Saw the news about Howard suggesting that Houston figure out a way acquire another max player. This is likely to be Josh Smith as it is well known they are friends.

    Does this put Atlanta back in the mix for Dwight since Josh is their own FA? While I don’t think Howard really wants to play there – the Hawks could have a dynamite front line of Howard/Horford/Smith. Of course the rest of the roster would be very thin but that could be said of a lot of teams.

  24. Am I over-reading this? Any thoughts?

    I answered this already before your post went up. “Third star” means Josh Smith, who is Howard’s buddy and is exactly his age.

    As I said, my opinion is that if Houston can get Smith in a S/T, that will end this, and Howard’s gone. If they don’t, the Lakers have a chance.

  25. rr,

    Good call. I’m sure Josh Smith would be the missing ingredient. The problem is that if they bring in Smith on a Sign / Trade for, say, Asik and Lin–especially when you consider everyone else the Rockets have put on waivers or traded–they will have mortgaged almost the whole team for 3 players. The Rockets would be VERY thin.

    I don’t know about Dwight. But that would make me nervous.

  26. One thing to keep in mind is that the team that signs Dwight can trade him after 6 months. Given Howard’s notorious indecisiveness, ,there’s always the possibility that he may take a deal now and re-evaluate his options 6 months down the line (i.e. ask for a trade).

  27. Call me crazy but a Blake/Hill package should be enticing to teams looking to shed a young players salary. Say Portland, Toronto or Philly.

    I will say it is ballsy to ask a team flying to meet you who already has a loaded young roster for another max player. And talking about Kobe on a stat sheet and imitating his shooting motion in a locker room full of all stars. If only he showed that heart on the court last season.

  28. I don’t know about Dwight. But that would make me nervous

    Well, I see that, but if you compare it to the Lakers:

    Kobe, 35, expiring, coming off a major injury
    Pau 33, expiring, coming off a procedure on both knees
    Nash, 40, coming off an injury-plagued year and away from the PHX trainers

    Add this to the illusory 2014 FA market and the questions about the Lakers’ new leadership team…which is a better bet?

    Howard and Smith actually would have some skill overlap issues; as Darius and others have explained, Howard is best paired with a stretch 4. But Smith is Howard’s buddy, explosive as all get out, born the same month. And they would be bad news on D.

  29. Howard thrived as the pick-and-roll man last season, averaging more points per play than all players except Tyson Chandler. He made 80-of-101 shots (79 percent). No other player in the NBA who had at least 75 shots, turnovers, or trips to the free throw line was even at 70 percent.

  30. Same link:

    The Lakers allowed 101.7 points per 100 possessions with Howard on the court, and 107.8 points per 100 possessions, which would have ranked 3rd-worst among NBA teams for the full season, when Howard was off the court.

  31. Last one:

    Bryant averaged 20.4 field goal attempts per game, second in the NBA to Carmelo Anthony. Bryant attempted nearly double the field goal attempts per game as Howard’s 10.7. The solution may be for the stars to meet halfway at about 15 shots per game each.

    I don’t know that I agree with this; I think it is more complicated. But I don’t doubt that it is an issue for Howard.

  32. Really like the Bulls (almost-)signing of Dunleavy, another underrated prospect. Another guy who agreed to a price we could have afforded. The one downside of being focused on the giant fish is that when finally you move to fill out the roster, the best bench pieces are often taken. Dunleavy at that price is an excellent pickup.

  33. rr- I think the biggest hurdle for the Lakers will be selling Howard on a plan that basically acknowledges that next year may blow due to Kobe’s injury and current contracts. I don’t know if Howard has the patience to wait given the pressure Laker fans often place on the team regardless of the circumstances.

  34. Howard thrived as the pick-and-roll man last season, averaging more points per play than all players except Tyson Chandler. He made 80-of-101 shots (79 percent). No other player in the NBA who had at least 75 shots, turnovers, or trips to the free throw line was even at 70 percent.

    If Howard stays in L.A. let’s hope the coaching staff can find a way to call that play more often.

    Excluding whatever plays on which he was fouled — some of which undoubtedly involved a pick and roll — the stats show Howard had 813 field goal attempts last season. That means only 12 percent of his shot attempts came in the pick and roll set.

    Considering he’s so adept at that play — as is Nash — it’s got to be something the Lakers utilize more often next season, again, if Howard is there (and Nash can, you know, play).

  35. lakers should look at asst. coach ron adams, recently let go by bulls.

  36. Honestly after all this time, Dwight has to have a strong idea of what he wants. I don’t know if he’s made up his mind, but he’s had more than 2 days or even a few months. He’s probably been thinking about this decision since signing that opt in. It was said he wanted to start his own legacy and not follow in the path of others. Which is why he preferred Brooklyn and Dallas and Lakers were a distance third. Have to think that still stands, except replace Brooklyn with Houston.

    I think the Kobe-Howard dynamic has more sway over his decision that mostly anything. He’s not getting the ball from the coach or Mitch. This dynamic hasn’t been written about enough but I think it plays a huge part of his decision, I think. These two are just two totally different mindsets on the court. Dwight probably can’t understand how Kobe is so cerebral on the court when he’s playing a game he loves. Kobe can’t understand how Dwight smiles so much when he should be trying to take someone’s head off with all his talent. Just a clash of personalities would cause friction on the court. Dwight wants everything to be smooth and happy. Kobe doesn’t care how a player feels as. They just have to get the job done. Not feeling from Kobe probably plays huge parts in Dwight’s decision. I think Dwight should grow up and realize he’s playing with one of the greatest ever, but it’s not that way. Dwight sees the person first and Kobe sees a basketball player. By the way, I side with Kobe on this.

    Last year when I saw Kobe and Dwight two man game. They did after all play the most games together out of the 4 stars. I didn’t see a lack of chemistry from a basketball standpoint. I saw two guys who don’t get all particularly well. Tensious passes and awkward handshakes. That affected their ability to maximize their potential playing together. The actually PnR between the two looked great. Kobe has found a way to play well with Shaq, Pau, Odom and Bynum. And had a successful two man game with all for an extended period of time, Pau still to this day. But was the triangle that bridge that connected Kobe to the bigs? I don’ think it had everything to do with it, but a good deal.

    At the end of the day I don’t think Dwight feels he can play with Kobe and that may be the determining factor in his decision. No other team has more to offer than the Lakers over the 4-5 years he signs for. But no other team has a Kobe. And as great as Kobe is, and he does actually make players better, it is hard to play with him. As Dwight found out.

  37. Snoopy,

    It reminds me a little of last summer. While waiting on Orlando to finally agree to a deal we watched one quality role player after another get taken off the market. If Howard really wants any team to give him a decent shot at winning he needs to make his commitment sooner rather than later. I’m not sure if he has heard everyone’s sales pitch yet. But by the end of tomorrow he should have. By Wednesday he should know for sure what he wants to do. But this is Dwight Howard. He is notoriously fickle. This thing could drag out.

  38. If I remember correctly, it was Howard who really wasn’t on board the pick-n-roll stuff, probably due to his health. Not sure if he wants to be featured in such a way, and I remember our team really taking off once Howard started setting serious screens.

    What this probably means is that those gaudy numbers are likely just from half of the season… so it will be interesting to see what happens if Howard buys into that and we seriously feature it with a relatively healthy Nash.

  39. Now, we understand the secret of the plan , it explains why Howard did not like Lakers, he wants to play with Josh Smith ( plus Harden is too young) like LeBron and Dwane Wade, Kobe and Nash are old. If Lakers can figure it out to get Howard and Josh Smith, Lakers has a chance, but it is hard to do. The problem is not MDA’s offensive system, the problem is Howard had to decide to play low-post game, maybe because Shaq said before that Shaq and Bynum are only true centers..

  40. Mike Bresnahan ?@Mike_Bresnahan 10h
    As of now, Lakers exec Jeanie Buss is not on the list to attend Tuesday’s meeting with Dwight Howard. Jim Buss = lone family rep

  41. Sasha Vujacic is back in LA and has been in touch with the Lakers. Source said he’ll be in NBA next season and Lakers are his top choice.

  42. Free-agent center Andrew Bynum will provide medical reports to NBA teams interested in signing him, but won’t work out for them, his agent told Yahoo! Sports on Monday.

    David Lee, Bynum’s agent, told Yahoo! Sports that Bynum will start training in July with an eye toward the 2013-14 season. Bynum missed the entire 2012-13 season, his first season with the Philadelphia 76ers, because of knee problems that ultimately required surgery.

    Lee said a “half dozen teams” have expressed interest in the 25-year-old Bynum, and that the teams will receive reports on Bynum’s MRI and other procedures.

    Bynum came to Philadelphia in the four-team trade that landed Dwight Howard in Los Angeles, but failed to play a single game for the 76ers.

    New Philadelphia general manager Sam Hinkie didn’t provide an optimistic outlook on Bynum’s return during his introductory news conference, saying Bynum is like “the thousands of other young men walking around the world that are unrestricted free agents that have potential to play NBA basketball.”

  43. Howard actually hated his time in orlando running PnRs and you could see that the ball was never really in his hands – Turkoglu and Nelson always played hero ball and never got him in position to succeed – Rafer alston was a big part of why they made the finals in 2009 because he got howard the ball and gave him enough time to do his thing when Nelson was injured during that run- thats why he didnt like it here last year and using that approach as a positive wont work in recruiting him – he would rather be the anchor like shaq in the triangle as opposed to the screener/finisher MDA and SVG wanted him to be – thats why he was pushing for Phil when Brown got fired.

  44. @Shaun, you obviously never watched the Orlando Magic play. The year they went to the finals, Howard had lower average FGAs than he did with LA last year. Rafer Alston was a back up and the primary ball handlers were Turkgolu and Nelson; Rafer only played after Nelson got injured. When Rafer played their sets didn’t change so your claim that Rafer “got howard the ball and gave him enough time to do his thing” is ridiculously false. The year after the finals, Howard asked to be a bigger part of the offense, his FGAs went up and team success dwindled. Howard is most effective in the pick and roll not post ups. The man doesn’t even have a signature go to post move. MDA and SVG systems utilize him better. BTW, no way in hell would Phil have run the triangle thru Dwight last year when Pau is on the roster.

  45. Just an addition, even with Kobe the master of the triangle on the roster, the Lakers ran the offense thru Pau.

  46. the timing of Kobe’s statement – that he wants to play 3 more years because he was “inspired” by the play of the Spurs – could not have come at a worse time. i think it was deliberate too.

    if D12 stays, front office might be forced to take a long look at Kobe, and whether he should be re-signed in 2014, even for a smaller salary. because knowing Kobe (unlike Manu or Tim), he will never want to be #2.

  47. Meg: While I disagree with you, as I am a huge Kobe supporter (in case you are new to the board), I do not disagree that things such as this should be considered. The problem is that it is too late to help this situation. We should have worked out DH’s relationship (or lack thereof) with KB and MD a long time ago. Trying to do it at today’s meeting is a bit much to ask. However here is some optimism, as this is tangible dollars for DH (I wonder if the league is looking at this).

  48. Robert: also a Kobe fan. Lakers should resign themselves to getting a younger superstar, who will be happy to grow into his role in the team and give Kobe all the time to say goodbye.

    the alternative will be an unceremonial boot – like Pierce in Boston.

  49. rr – Wait! Jeannie is not going to do the pitch? That’s a terrible idea. Jeannie may not like Mike D or Jim, but we need a united front. Whoever made that decision is not thinking straight.

  50. Well – let’s see what happens with DH. Like I said – we should have already handled this. If DH walks, then KB is all we have. In any case, as Kobe fans we could blame it all on DH and then say we don’t want DH if he doesn’t get with the program.

    Meeting: Looks like it is Jim, Mitch, MD, Kobe, and Nash. Reports are that Magic, Phil, and Jeanie are not attending. No word on Kareem (is there ever?). Still hoping for something good to happen.

  51. I completely confused about this apparent need to repair a relationship between Kobe and Dwight. What is there to repair??? This is their job, who cares if they get along. What Dwight wants is for the Front Office, Kobe, the Fans to all bow down to him. That will never happen. Becoming the face of a franchise happens organically, it cant be forced. Only by leading by example will Dwight become revered as he hopes. That is why I am glad the Lakers listened to Kobe in approaching Dwight. Get the 1st word in let him talk to others and then get the last word in. Also, let him understand why this is the best situation for him but done arm twist him. The decision to stay has to be Dwight’s.
    In addition, unlike many, I actually believe that the Lakers are the best situation for Howard in the near term to win a championship and also in the long-term. Everyone dismissing the Lakers forget that last season 8 out of LA’s top 9 rotation players missed significant time last season with injuries (Young and Old). Please show many how many teams in the history of the NBA made it to the playoffs under such circumstances?? Somehow, people want to say Houston is better despite finishing behind LA?? Houston might have young talent but they don’t have a Championship pedigree. Last time I checked James Harden went to the finals on a star studded team and choked. What proof do we have that he wont choke again??
    I want to add one last thing, how can people say Kobe doesn’t have on court chemistry with Howard but somehow he did with all the Big Men he has played with from Shaq to Pau?? If people really want to place a blame for the current theatrics that Howard is pulling, blame AAU basketball.

  52. @Robert, if Howard leaves I don’t see the need to blame anyone. Why do we need to blame anyone when a “FREE AGENT” decides what/where he thinks is best for him? Yeah it will be a huge loss if we lost a player of Howard defensive ability however the man has a right to pick where he wants to work just like the rest of us. If he stays we take another crack at a Championship, if he doesn’t we can still compete this year, lucky bounce here, an injury to a main piece for a contender and a road to the finals could open. The future is bright for the Lakers. One fact that gets lost on most people is the new requirement that team salaries have to be 90% of the Salary cap starting this next season. That is why 2014 is going to be LA’s real off-season to reload. I am in no way worried.

  53. Robert,

    The league has already said that Howard cannot be compensated for any Time Warner shows. Also, Houston talked about a Comcast TV show with him as well, so the TWC thing is probably a reactive move. Also, I get how you feel about Kobe and all Lakers fans will always owe him, but he is not really a solid asset at this point. He is 35,coming off a major injury, owed 30M this year, and then not under contract next year. If Howard walks, then the Lakers have no solid long-term assets.


    I am perfectly willing, as people have seen, to second-guess what the FO does, but I try to stay away from how they do things, since I do not know what is going on behind the scenes. However, I observed a few months ago that it is conventional wisdom that there are a lot of downsides to mixing family and business. By this I don’t mean having the Busses own the Lakers per se, but this situation of Jeanie and Jim splitting the power while Jeanie is married to Phil…well, it seems like a minefield. There is no legitimate reason that I can think of not to have Jeanie at the Howard meeting; she is the team’s “governor” she represents the Lakers at league functions. Howard likes her; she is by all accounts warm, charming, intelligent person. Having a woman involved in the team at the exec level is I think pretty much unique to the Lakers in the NBA, and I think most observers see her as a plus. Her old man entrusted her with the “business” aspects of the Lakers; making the pitch to Howard is in part a business thing.

    So, conceding that I don’t know the reasoning, not including her in this seems foolish and reeks of internal feuding.

  54. That is why 2014 is going to be LA’s real off-season to reload. I am in no way worried.

    I posted a link to an article at SSR explaining why this isn’t really true. Here it is again:

    Basically, as I have said, the foreseeable way for the Lakers to reload is to keep Howard, get a complementary player in 2014, and then try to get Kevin Love in 2015. Unless you think LeBron James is coming here, July 2014 is mostly a myth. And, Howard staying here would almost certainly make the Lakers more appealing to FAs over the next two years.

    One never knows what will happen, but there is no specific reason, other than the organization’s location and history, to say that the future is bright for the Lakers if Howard walks.

  55. Jay A: I am not interested in blame – I am interested in increasing our odds. Some are looking at this like a roulette wheel, meaning it is out of our control and the ball will fall where it will. I look at it more like poker, which is a combo of luck and skill. So what DH wants to do in his own mind is the luck part. However we can influence it and that is the skill part. I just want us to maximize that. With regard to Kobe,I think my Kobe support is well known, so I am hardly attacking him. Rather it is known that DH “could” have some issues with KB and MD. If the Lakers choose to ignore that – I think that is a mistake (and so far that is what they have done). It doesn’t mean DH is leaving. I would have done something about it to increase our odds however. With regard to the future looking bright with or without Howard – I admire your optimism. I will let rr debate that one with you. I am not going to, because I believe we are talking about Laker Manifest Destiny, and that is a faith argument, not a logic argument. Let’s hope for the best for this meeting.

  56. Orlandos team success dwindled after because they didnt resign Rafer – who in the playoffs played a lot more than you are stating – he won them like 4+ games in the playoffs, didnt resign michael pietrus, traded courtney lee, took on Vince Carter, traded Gortat … Otis Smith was a horrible GM thats why team success went down

    And their sets did change in the playoffs as rafer would dump the ball into the post and let dwight do his thing as opposed to Jameer running around a screen to try and create his own shot – im not imagining this, I remember distinctly as when Orlando was playing LA – I couldnt understand what Jameer was doing as a PG and Dwight was visablly irritated with him when he came back from injury.

    Do you think Dwight thinks he has no post moves? … no he thinks hes amazing and wants to show it off …. we are talking about giving Dwight what he wants to stay right – the guy who hated SVGs system so much he got him fired and MDA – who the whole team hated and it was the players who told MDA we are not going to run your offense – oh yeah once they threw out MDAs offense is when we went 28-12 or whatever it was after the memphis player meeting – right so even if we “think” Dwight would work better in these coaches systems he hates it so like I said it is not a positive to sell Dwight on this and the example of our record post dumping MDAs offense is also telling at how positive not using that system might be.

    Good to know about Pau … except I spoke about Shaq who did have the offense run through him … like how Dwight wants to have it and yes I think it would be run through him.

  57. I think Howard speeds up the Lakers’ track to championship prominence. Been reading some comments on Twitter from smart people and one point being made, I think, is a phenomenal one. With centers, one is paying much more for value then at any other position. An average center costs more then an average PG, or swing. It’s a supply and demand thing. Now, if you can lock up a superstar center at the league maximum you are actually getting better value for your salary cap space then you do if you lock up a player at any other position. Getting a top-5 player at center gives you more value per your salary cap then at any other position. That is not to say that Miami isn’t getting better value from LeBron, but considering the impact Dwight has on the court, that might be the only player on the planet whose gives better value in relation to the percentage of the salary cap a player takes up. In an era with such a restrictive cap, this is a huge opportunity for the Lakers to establish an advantage. I just don’t see how a thoughtful fan can be cavalier about this. Signing Dwight paves the way for greater salary cap health in the future, as well as securing another top-flight player or two. Any player worthy of the max is giving his team more value then any other type of player (obviously, a max worthy player who is on his rookie scale deal is the greatest value) as reflective on the salary cap.

    One more point, and again this is respective to salary cap implications- FA players signed early in the FA period tend to get inflated contracts. They may be better players then those who you pick up later on, but you are often getting lessar value for the money you spend early. It’s later in the FA period, when teams have greater leverage, that you can get better deals. The salary cap makes team building a different game then it used to be. Whatever big pieces move in the Lakers stable will have to be the primary focus. They need to see what happens with Dwight and then look to deal with Pau, Metta etc… After that, the bits and pieces available to complement those top end players will be there in one form or another. The 3 and D player is out there. It’s up to the top end players to maximize the value of the complementary pieces.

  58. Latest reports pointing that we might win this thing.

  59. Robert,

    My post responding to Jay A just appeared.

  60. If Howard and his decision making team have any sense he will stay in LA. Houston doesn’t give him a chance at a championship much less multiple championships. He can be the Bill Russell of the West if he sticks with LA and allows Mitch and Jim do their jobs. One good thing that will come out of this Howard free agency is that for the next 5 years the Lakers brass will do everything to keep the team in the championship hunt and not waste years off Dwight’s prime like they did to Kobe until Kobe demanded to be traded. GO LAKESHOW

  61. rr: Nice – you responded before I even asked you to : )

    From this Bresnahan article:
    “The Lakers considered adding some of their legendary names to the meeting but decided against it, looking toward the future instead of the past.”,0,4572520.story

  62. Robert: I’m not quite sure how the FO could address the “Kobe issue” that since you argue that they “ignored” it. You can try and tell Kobe to get along, but as he showed with Shaq, Kobe has his own way of doing things that simply will not be changed.

    This is going to be about whether the Lakers can convince and get Dwight excited about their vision for the future. A future that includes 3-4 more years of Kobe (and hopefully at a significantly less impact on the salary cap), maybe some roster moves, but lots of cap space in the Summer 2014.

    The major issue on the table, in my opinion, will be whether Dwight feels he has enough chemistry with Kobe to make this work for him over the next 3-4 years. That’s a tough sell given their personalities and the fact that the Rockets can offer him teammates of a different generation with similar mentality to Howard (play and have fun mentality vs. play to win it all mentality like Kobe’s). We can add Phil (as you suggest), we can keep or trade Pau, we can add good complimentary free agents – but what we cannot change is Kobe’s personality, the reckless abandon with which he plays the game and his expectations that his better teammates play with a passion for championships.

    So unless you are going to suggest that we amnesty Kobe (which I would never do in 100 years), then realize that future of Howard hinges on whether he wants to “have fun” or “play for rings.”

  63. MannyP: We are not that far apart with regard to KB. We both feel that there is “probably” an issue with DH as it pertains to KB. We both feel it is significant, but perhaps not insurmountable. We also both feel KB will be KB. Where we differ slightly is that you think nothing can be done about it, and I think nothing can be done about it now. “If” anything was to be done about this, it would have taken months of mutual therapy by someone who knew how to relate to KB (Darius covered this weeks ago – and there is one guy in history who has done this). We did not do anything – so we are total agreement now – it is what it is. In spite of my admiration of Kobe, I am admitting that there is an issue between him and DH. And I agree that amnesty or trade is not on the table. We are further apart on the “other guy” that DH has issue with, because on that front I do not believe you are acknowledging that there is a problem (correct me if I am wrong). Like I said all along some issues are fixable, others are not (and I also think it is too late to fix this problem as well – for DH). Your concluding statement suggests it is all about DH and there is nothing we can do to improve our odds. I think at this point (the 12th hour) you are correct. My previous statements merely said there are things we could have done, but we did not, so now we are where we are. No issues – we are both rooting for the same thing.

  64. Robert: Yeah, I think the “Kobe Issue” carries the most weight for Howard. Obviously I have no way of quantifying it, but in my mind it’s greater than 50%. That’s why I keep harping that no matter what changes we make, it may not be enough to cancel out the one thing that is most important to Howard’s decision making.

    Of course, I have no idea if the Kobe Issue is that big of a deal (or a deal to start with), but it is an assumption that I am comfortable making based on what I have seen during games and read in the press.

  65. Manny,

    You may be right, but the thing is, Kobe’s deal only has one more year on it, and for all we know his career may be all but over. Now, you can’t really say that at the meeting, since Kobe will be (and should be) there, but if Kobe’s presence is actually that big of a negative for Howard, then that should be considered.

    Like I said, my opinion is that it is probably not one thing with Howard–it is the combination of all of the things: Kobe, leadership, roster, bad season in 2013, D’Antoni, how good Houston’s set-up is–that has created this.