If Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard does not wish to remain with the team, then a sign-and-trade could be in order for the Lakers. Teams like the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers are expected to be involved in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes should things come to a sign-and-trade, but, for now, it looks like the onus is on the Lakers re-signing Howard. According to ESPN’s Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne, the Lakers main priority this offseason is re-signing Dwight Howard, and their secondary goal is to shave off their cap number and decrease their luxury tax. The Lakers are reportedly “confident” that they can keep Howard, and that looks to be the case from this seat.
Howard’s motives are not known at this point, but the ball is on his court; he holds the keys to his future at this point. If Howard wants to stay, then the Lakers will gladly re-sign him. If Howard wants out, then the Lakers will let him go. Although the Lakers would likely prefer to get something back for Howard (like Blake Griffin and Eric Bledsoe or Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin), they might not have the cap space to complete a sign-and-trade deal with the likes of the Rockets or Lakers.
I highly doubt the Lakers would take Lin and Asik for a player the caliber of Howard, and plus that would enable the Rockets to pry away another star from a Los Angeles team in Clippers point guard Chris Paul. The Rockets priority this offseason is to get Howard, and their secondary goal is to pair him with Chris Paul. Overly ambitious? Maybe, but it’s possible if they can shed Thomas Robinson’s cap number and hope that Paul, like Howard, wants to play for Kevin McHale (or Howard wants to play for Paul’s coaching choice).
The Lakers would obviously prefer to keep Howard, especially since their 2014 cap number would be put into trouble through a sign-and-trade. However, that’s probably worth the luxury tax if the Lakers can snag Bledsoe and Griffin from the Clippers, which would look to be a dream trade for the Lakers. Though, based on the post on ESPN, it seems like the Lakers are less high on that trade than I am. The Lakers really need to get their cap issues straightened up this offseason, but Dwight Howard is clearly the primary issue. At the end of the day, I still see him in a Lakers uniform, but that could all change on a whim.