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Lakers' outlook on Dwight Howard should change

July 02, 2012|By Mark Medina
  • It's unlikely Magic center Dwight Howard will go the Brooklyn Nets as he reportedly hoped since they have a deal in place to secure Hawks forward Joe Johnson.
It's unlikely Magic center Dwight Howard will go the Brooklyn Nets… (Gary W. Green / MCT / April…)

Within a seven-hour span, my opinion on whether the Lakers should pursue Dwight Howard completely changed.

Call me fickle and uninformed. But the same could apply to Howard, too. After constantly going back and forth on whether he wants to stay with the Orlando Magic or leave for presumably greener pastures, Howard finally put his proverbial foot down. He told Yahoo Sports on Sunday night that he wants to play for one specific team, which sources close to him indicated was the Brooklyn Nets. But that wish blew up in his face when the Nets reached a deal to acquire Atlanta forward Joe Johnson, guaranteeing they wouldn't have enough cap space or assets to secure Howard.

My opinion has changed on Howard simply because of the circumstances. The main uncertainty in the Lakers swapping Andrew Bynum for Howard involved his long-term future with the purple & gold. He made it clear through back channels he had no desire in following in Shaquille O'Neal's footsteps. Howard also offered unenthusiastic responses toward playing second fiddle behind Kobe Bryant. That backdrop put the Lakers at huge risk by giving up a huge asset only to see Howard leave after one season.

That framework changes, however, with the Nets getting Johnson. The Lakers have stronger negotiating power in convincing Howard he likes sunny Los Angeles. After that a mix of winning, excellent weather, fewer options and the Hollywood spotlight could convince Howard to stay. After all, who could see Howard having trouble saying no to that backdrop when he's already agonized so much over possibly leaving Orlando?

Of course, some concerns still persist. When will Howard recover from his back surgery? Some teams, such as the Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks, will also throw sweeteners at the Magic center. How long will it take for Howard and Bryant to iron out any issues regarding their role? But those issues are far less agonizing than wondering when Bynum will improve his poor on-court behavior and inconsistent effort.

It's way too early to know whether the Lakers can hit a "home run," as General Manager Mitch Kupchak put it. But one thing's clear. New Jersey inadvertadently delivered a fastball right down the plate. Now the Lakers need to swing with full contact.


Should the Lakers trade Andrew Bynum for Dwight Howard? (Poll)

Comparing Bynum and Howard

Mitch Kupchak: 'We'll try to hit a home run'

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