A Dwight Howard trade to the Lakers hinges on other variables


So, has Dwight Howard finally made up his mind? reported that Howard has signaled he would be prepared to sign a long-term extension after the 2012-13 season should the Orlando Magic trade him to the Lakers.

But don’t make a rush order for a “Howard” Lakers jersey. Don’t start expressing giddiness over Howard pairing up with Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. Don’t make plans to take off work next year so you can attend the Lakers’ championship parade.

All of those things might happen. But some things have to happen first.


The Orlando Magic still has to be willing to trade him, and various reports indicate the club is in no rush to do that. The Magic hasn’t received any assurances Andrew Bynum would sign a long-term extension with them, or at least indicate he would after the season ends. Orlando still wants to get rid of some expensive contracts in Hedo Turkoglu (two years, $23.8 million) and Jason Richardson (three years, $18.6 million), but The Times’ Mike Bresnahan has indicated that the Lakers would be open to acquiring only Richardson. A third team might have to be included in the deal, possibly Houston or Cleveland, since they have more cap space and draft picks than the Lakers have to make Orlando comfortable giving up its star center.

Meanwhile, the longer this drags out, the more wary the Lakers might become. Although the Lakers hope they can hit another home run after acquiring Nash, devoting time and energy in pursuing Howard distracts them from focusing on other agendas. It provides less clarity on how much resources they should devote to re-signing Jordan Hill and how they shore up the vacant bench spots. Since Bynum would be the centerpiece of the deal, this delays possible talks on re-signing him to a long-term extension.

Bottom line, it’s an important step that Howard apparently isn’t as resistant as before to wearing the purple and gold. But Howard’s reported acceptance that it’s financially unrealistic to believe the Brooklyn Nets can acquire him in a trade is a small development in a process that could still drag on.


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