With all the courtship that has been going on for Dwight Howard’s services over the last week, one may be inclined to think that if he leaves Los Angeles, the Lakers will enter a downward spiral and burn into flames. However, this is definitely not the case.
Sure, the Lakers will be better off with Howard on their roster. He is and should be the biggest priority for the Lakers this offseason. He’s a dominant force on both ends of the court and if his shoulder shows signs of improvement, he could put up MVP type numbers like he did in Orlando in 2013-14. There is no doubt that the team has a better chance to win a title with him in the lineup.
With that said, having Howard in purple and gold is not a necessity for the team to be successful this year and beyond. This isn’t the same situation the Cleveland Cavaliers faced when LeBron James bolted to Miami, leaving Cleveland with limited and marginal players.
If Howard leaves, the Lakers will have seven players on the roster for 2013-14 in Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace, Jordan Hill, Steve Nash, Steve Blake, and Jodie Meeks. The team has also given center Robert Sacre a qualifying offer to bring him back. Finally, assuming they sign second round pick Ryan Kelly, the Lakers will have nine men on the team.
No matter what happens with Howard, the Lakers must bring in a few bench players this summer who can shoot, defend, and show signs of athleticism that will fit in Mike D’Antoni’s fast paced system. Even if Howard stays, the Lakers aren’t winning anything without some much needed depth.
But, if Howard leaves, even more importance will be placed on the quality of the players they decide to bring this summer. There are plenty of shooting options available for the Lakers in free agency and they can definitely improve their depth if they make the right moves. They’ll need to rely on their mini mid-level exception plus a few good pickups with their veteran’s minimum, but it’s not out of the realm of possibilities that they succeed using their exceptions.