By Kevin R. Linares
The Houston Rockets were believed to be the front runners all along in the convincing Dwight Howard that they are the best choice for him and it appears they are indeed. After it being reported by Sam Amick from USA Today that Howard had chosen to sign with the Houston Rockets, Dan Fegan, Howard’s agent, said that there was no decision made yet. There were also reports about Howard taking a plane to meet with Lakers’ general manager Mitch Kupchak and he was still split between the Rockets and the Lakers but Howard has now told Kupchak that he would not be returning to the Lakers.
“We have been informed of Dwight’s decision to not return to the Lakers.” Kupchak said in a statement confirming that Dwight would indeed join the Rockets, his third team in three years. What does this mean for the Lakers? They will have to look forward to 2014 when they will have plenty of cap space to find one of the many free agents. They will have to rely on Pau Gasol to play center again, Kobe Bryant to recover continuing to play at a high level and have the rest of the team to do their part in competing in the 2013-2014 season.
Although it will be an old team and without Howard, the Lakers still have enough to compete for playoff position. There will be some small moves made by the Lakers to replace Earl Clark and Metta World Peace if amnestied as well as other fill ins.
The Houston Rockets made some noise in the playoffs last year but will do more than just that next season. With Howard and James Harden the Rockets have a great duo who can compete for at least the fourth spot in the Western conference playoffs. There are reports that Omar Asik does not want to play behind Howard and there might be a trade for Josh Smith with the Atlanta Hawks or the New Orleans Pelicans for Ryan Anderson but nothing official has been reached.
With this being his third team in three years Dwight has to prove he is worth all of this. He left the Orlando Magic, a team he went to the NBA finals with, he left one of the most successful franchises in the world in the Lakers and now will join the Rockets where he has an opportunity to once again become the top big man in the league and immediately compete for a championship. Win and he will look at this as one of the best decisions he has ever made. Lose and he will be looking back at the options that he had and what could have been if he had chosen to go down a different path.
(USA Today/Mark J. Rebilas)
By Kevin R. Linares.
The Los Angeles Lakers have lost their athletic forward in Earl Clark. Clark has agreed to a two year deal worth about $9 million with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the second year being a team option. There were reports that the Los Angeles Clippers were also interested in Clark and the Lakers also interested in bringing the small forward back but under their terms.
Clark was acquired by the Lakers from the Orlando Magic in the trade that brought the now free agent Dwight Howard to Los Angeles. Although Clark was just a throw in for the trade he was a bright spot for the Lakers in what seemed to be a catastrophic season. In a roster full of veterans and lacking youth, Clark provided youth and athleticism playing minutes because of the injuries the Lakers suffered throughout the season. He played one of his best games earlier in the season against the San Antonio Spurs scoring 22 points and grabbing 14 rebounds.
The Lakers were interested in bringing Clark back but playing the way he played this past season teams had gained interest in him. With the Lakers’ luxury tax they could not offer Clark the kind of money a team like Cleveland did. Last season Clark averaged 7.3 points and 5.5 rebounds. He will be joining a very young and athletic Cavalier team that includes Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and the number 1 overall pick of this years draft Anthony Bennett.
(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
By Kevin R. Linares
The Los Angeles Lakers got a much needed win at the Staples Center against the Memphis Grizzlies beating them 86 to 84. With only six games remaining in the regular season the Lakers need to pull away from the Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks. The win did not come easy for the purple and gold as the Grizzlies came close to taking the game into over time as time expired.
Kobe Bryant led the game for the Lakers scoring 24 points and dished out 9 assists. Bryant continues to play heavy minutes for the shorthanded teams playing 43 minutes, more than anyone else on the floor played tonight. Pau Gasol has continued to show consistency putting up great numbers scoring 19 points against his brothers’ team. Both Antawn Jamison and Earl Clark scored 13 points each off the bench. Dwight Howard did get it going in the game being in foul trouble and only scored 9 points. Steve Blake who started in place for the injured Steve Nash managed the floor well and scored two big 3 pointers. Jodie Meeks had a quiet night in the starting line up replacing Metta World Peace scoring 2 points.
Steve Nash will continue to rest up with no word if he will be ready in time for the next game. Metta World Peace seemed to be having a good recovery as he tweeted out earlier in the day “My first day of running today went excellent.” With the Laker injuries right now they have been playing with just seven players getting minutes. Kobe Bryant has felt the heavy minutes looking tired late in the game as he missed a couple of shots to pull away from the Grizzlies late in the fourth quarter.
The Lakers remain at the 8th spot just half a game over the Utah Jazz who beat the New Orleans Hornets keeping them in the fight for the final Western Conference playoff spot. Next up for the Jazz are the Golden State Warriors. The Dallas Mavericks are right behind the Jazz, 3 games behind the Lakers and also won tonight against the Sacramento Kings. The last few games left in the season will be must wins for all these teams with their shot at the playoffs being at stake. Up next for the Lakers is a big game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday. The Clippers are looking to sweep the season series, while the Lakers look to show they will be a threat in the playoffs if they indeed make it.
(Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
By Kevin R. Linares
The Lakers beat the Dallas Mavericks in the Staples Center 101 to 81 in a must win game for Los Angeles. Coming into the game the Lakers were a game and a half ahead of the Mavericks in 9th place and with the win are now 2 and a half games ahead. The Mavericks were making a late run to make it into the playoffs and with a win would have been a serious threat for Los Angeles.
The Lakers were without their point guard Steve Nash who is out with injury. Nash has two days to rest and will determine whether he will play Friday but is expected to give it a try. The purple and gold dominated most of the game and were led by Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant. Dwight Howard had a double double scoring 24 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Kobe had an impressive game with a triple double scoring 23 points, dishing out 11 assists and added 11 rebounds as well. Earl Clark played one of his best games after having somewhat of a slump and returning to the bench with Pau Gasol returning. He had 17 points and played well on defense blocking 5 shots. Pau Gasol had another solid game with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Only 7 games remain in the regular season and they find themselves out of the playoffs behind the Utah Jazz. They are tied with Utah but have lost the season series so need to finish with a better record than the Jazz. Both teams have similar schedules with the Jazz’s toughest opponents being the Thunder, Warriors, Grizzlies and Nuggets. For the Lakers the Spurs, Warriors, Clippers, Grizzlies and the Rockets. The Lakers take the floor again at the Staples Center on Friday against a tough team in the Memphis Grizzlies.