Dwight Howard is a free agent this NBA offseason. The Los Angeles Lakers can offer him the most money with a max contract, but that does not guarantee that Howard will remain in L.A., especially after saying that he will entertain all offers on the free agent market beginning in a couple of months. Those offers are expected to include teams such as the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets and Atlanta Hawks, just to name a few. But, instead of simply watching Howard walk away and sign with a new team, would the Lakers ever consider pulling off a sign-and-trade with the embattled – and quite immature – superstar? More specifically, could they make a trade and send Howard to the Mavs for the No. 13 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, as well as a package of players?
It may sound far fetched, considering the history between these two teams, but it is certainly not outside the realm of possibilities.
The Lakers would like to retain Howard and sign him to a four or five year contract. They know how much it will cost them going forward but, with Kobe Bryant still believed to be getting ready to play in his final NBA season and Steve Nash and Pau Gasol among others getting ready to come off of the books after one more year, the Lakers know that they need a player whom they can build around. While the 2013-2014 payroll would be astronomical for Los Angeles, especially with the tax they would pay for having players such as Howard, Bryant, Gasol and Nash and others all on the books, they are not looking forward to a roster featuring Earl Clark, Andrew Goudelock and Robert Sacre. It is bad enough that the Los Angeles Clippers are now the best team in the City of Angels, but the Lakers do not want to watch them continuously reach the NBA Playoffs while they receive lottery picks in the NBA Draft.
Speaking of lottery picks, this will be the first time in over a decade that the Mavericks will hold a pick within the top half of the NBA Draft. Clearly, even with a sign-and-trade, it would cost the Mavs more than simply the No. 13 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft to acquire Howard. The Lakers could ask for expiring contracts, as well as perhaps some younger players such as Darren Collison and Jae Crowder. Either way, the Mavericks are already considered to be shopping the No. 13 pick in an attempt to save some cap space. They are expected to use that money in order to make a pitch for a player such as Howard or Chris Paul from the Clippers, although he is expected to remain in Los Angeles now that the team has fired head coach, Vinny Del Negro. Still, with the window closing quickly in Dallas for Dirk Nowitzki and others, Mark Cuban knows he needs to do something now. Trading for Howard or Paul would certainly qualify as something big.
Whether or not they can pull off such a move remains to be seen.