If the Lakers are intent on landing Orlando's Dwight Howard, above,… (John Raoux / Associated…)
Another day has passed, so of course that just means Dwight Howard remains in limbo.
It also means the Lakers continue weighing the financial ramifications as they negotiate with the Orlando Magic to acquire the disgruntled center. Even with more punitive tax measures stemming from the NBA's new labor deal, the Lakers stays intent on winning a championship. They showed that by signing veteran elite point guard Steve Nash to a three-year, $27-million deal. But to what degree do the Lakers share the mind-set with Howard?
This doesn't relate to Howard's finances. He's getting a max deal wherever he ends up. This all pertains to how much additional salary the Lakers would be willing to absorb just to land the big center. I already highlighted the pros and cons on acquiring Jason Richardson's three-year, $18.6-million contract, and concluded it's the price the Lakers need to pay in doing business. But should L.A. express the same willingness in taking on Hedo Turkoglu' $23.8 million salary for the next two seasons? I break down the pros and cons in that debate below.
Why the Lakers should take on Turkoglu's contract to get Howard: These variables don't change: Howard still rates as superior to Bynum. Securing Howard gives the Lakers a legitimate franchise player following Kobe Bryant's retirement. It would also put L.A. over the top as a championship favorite. So even if there are questions about Turkoglu's consistency and bloated contract, that shouldn't overshadow the big picture.
It's still highly possible that Turkoglu could help the Lakers even if his 10.9 points per game on 41.5% shooting signals his continual decline in the past two seasons. Even if it became hard for Orlando to predict when it would happen, Turkoglu still cracked double digits in 32 games last season. Considering that the Lakers would have enough offensive options so as not to depend on him, they can absorb Turkoglu's inconsistent shooting. They can also tolerate Turkoglu's nonexistent defense when they have Metta World Peace assuming that role at small forward.
Why the Lakers shouldn't accept a Howard trade involving Turkoglu: With his role paling in importance to what he's done in Orlando, it's highly possible that the negative aspects of Turkoglu's game would emerge even more. He's built a reputation for playing passively when he lacks confidence or doesn't receive enough looks. So with the strong likelihood of having a reduced role, who's to say Turkoglu won't disappear completely?
His inconsistency would also have a trickle-down affect on the roster. The Lakers already have enough pieces at small forward. World Peace will still start and could appear in better shape next season. Devin Ebanks is expected to come back and see increased playing time. And Antawn Jamison can play both power forward and small forward. Having Turkoglu eat up playing time could severely stunt the development/performance of all of these players. The obvious solution could entail just having Turkoglu sit on the bench. But that's both a waste of money and effort in trying to upgrade the Lakers' reserves.
Verdict: Regardless of which player is involved, I still stay firm in believing that acquiring Howard should be a top priority because it sets them up at having a franchise player for the long-term. Some argue that Andrew Bynum could fit that description in the years to come, but I don't see him maturing enough to take on that role. Sure, Howard needs to mature too, but a winning atmosphere would do wonders for his disposition.
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