Happy 33rd birthday,
That was about all the
There's really only one question: What's next?
Pau Gasol will stay and the Lakers are leaning toward keeping
So next season really comes down to seeing what
The Lakers are too far over the salary cap to sign anybody else to lucrative deals and are left with one free-agent spending tool — the uninspiring "mini" mid-level exception, worth $3.1 million next season.
It's certainly not enough to get
"If Dwight should leave, then we have a Plan B. It's not as good as Plan A," General Manager
Strange, strange ending to what turned out to be a one-year rental, the Howard fallout even snaring mild-mannered Lakers reserve
Numerous websites claimed Meeks posted on Instagram a Photoshopped Howard as a female basketball player, complete with pigtails, makeup and an Orlando Miracle
One problem, though, other than the fact the Miracle moved to Connecticut 10 years ago.
"Woww! I don't even have an instagram" account, Meeks wrote on his Twitter feed Saturday morning. "Whoever that is needs to stop it!!"
He then added "people these days" and "this is a crazy world."
Meeks was Howard's best friend on the Lakers.
And from a small corner in the Clippers' ever-brightening world came a tweet from Clipper Darrell, their unofficial team mascot who wears half-red, half-blue suits to games: "When could u ever say Lakers & Rebuilding and then LAClippers & Championship all in the same sentence."
He added the hashtag "#CULTURECHANGE."
"It was expected," he said. "We've all been in L.A., and not a whole lot of people can handle being under the bright lights. Everybody wants to do it, but when you get there, there are certain pressures. I think it was a safe move for him to go to a little town like Houston. That's right, little town. I said it."
The big-town Lakers, though, have larger championship odds than the Rockets, free-falling from 10-1 to 25-1 after Howard's decision, according to
The Rockets, by the way, zoomed to 10-1 from 25-1. Looking down at both the Rockets and Lakers are the Clippers, perched at 6-1.
The Lakers' brand will take a minor hit next season unless Gasol improves drastically in
"It's hard because Howard was supposed to be the answer. He was supposed to bring back the glory days," said George Belch, chairman of the marketing department at San Diego State. "But so much unraveled at the end.
"The good news is the fans are like, 'Good riddance. We're glad you're leaving because it just didn't work out.'"
The Lakers haven't started to publicly sell the concept of next summer, when Nash is scheduled to be their only player under contract. They can't, really. They're a whole year from restocking. There are tickets to sell, merchandise to hawk, playoffs to maybe sneak into. Maybe.
"If I'm in a marketing office right now, I'm probably scratching my head, saying 'Where are we going?' It's going to be tough," Belch said.
"What you can do is sit back a little bit and hope that Kobe is healthy again and everybody steps up a little bit. Midway through the season, maybe that's when you start thinking about the future. They're going to have a lot of money to spend on free agents."
Beyond the $50 million they can spend on the 2014-15 season, the Lakers also plan to keep their first-round pick for the first time since 2007. Next year's draft, headlined by small forward
"The Lakers have been on an incredible run since the