By Kevin R. Linares
With talk about where Dwight Howard will end up next season growing, there have been many teams that have risen as possible threats to the Lakers. Teams that have been named include the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks and even the Los Angeles Clippers.
Teams like the Warriors and Clippers would definitely love to have Howard playing for their team. How crazy would it sound to have Howard, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson on the Warriors? Or how about both Dwight Howard and Chris Paul on the Clippers? That would definitely make Laker fans “love” David Stern and his vetoed Chris Paul to Lakers trade even more. Realistically speaking, Howard going to the Warriors or Clippers would be a long shot. Both teams would have to make difficult arrangements to free up space as well as break up the teams they have now which are not bad at all.
The Mavericks, Hawks and Rockets are teams that would be able to bring Howard because of their free cap space or ability to free up cap space. The Mavericks have put themselves in a great position and are reportedly shopping around their 13th pick in the draft to make their run at Howard. With Dirk Nowitzki aging, would Howard give up around $30 million that the Lakers can offer more to go play with an aging superstar in Dallas. People will say he already is playing with an aging superstar in Kobe Bryant but how about that $30 million difference?
The Atlanta Hawks will have some edge with it being Howard’s hometown. With players coming off their payroll they will have enough cap space to bring in Howard. If Josh Smith, a close friend of Howard’s, intends to resign with the Hawks he can be the man to try and lure Howard. Again, will teaming up with Josh Smith in his hometown be enough to have Howard turn down that extra $30 million the Lakers will be able to offer him?
The Houston Rockets have been able to assemble some young and very talented pieces led by James Harden and coach Kevin McHale. This is a team that almost shocked the favorites in the West in their first year being together. Something the Rockets were missing was defense and bringing in Howard would definitely be a boost in that category. The Rockets can work to make cap space for Howard and might have enough in terms of talent to lure Howard away from the Lakers.
No team can offer Howard as many years and as much money that the Lakers can. Howard wanted to be in the spotlight and what better place for that than with the Lakers in Los Angeles. It would take sometime for the Lakers to bring in some other pieces to bring them back into title contention with them having an aging roster but if all healthy and in the same page they can be a threat. We saw a a glimpse of that in the second half of the 2012-2013 season. The biggest threat to the Lakers would be the Houston Rockets. The spotlight is definitely not as big, the money and years are not as much but the roster is something special. Howard will listen to what teams have to offer and coming to play with a young talented roster led by James Harden in Houston will be something he will take into serious consideration, for the Laker’s sake, hopefully not too serious.