Well, the 5 teams Dwight could play for next year have all pitched their presentations to him and now await his decision. The Lakers’ meeting with Dwight was the shortest one of them all, and while this doesn’t really mean anything it could be time to start thinking about the Lakers’ future without him.
Personally, I would be very surprised if he doesn’t land in Houston or LA. Houston offers a roster full of three-point shooters (similar to the Orlando team he led to the Finals) that could adapt to Dwight’s ideal style of play and pair him with rising superstar James Harden. LA offers him the chance to build a legacy unlike any other since winning with the Lakers is a bigger deal than winning elsewhere.
Aside from the fact that I know the Lakers need Dwight to be in contention next year, I truly believe that LA, with a healthy Kobe, offers him the best chance to win a title. The simple reason is that the Lakers ended last season 28-12, ended 7th in the west while ailing through one of the most injury riddled seasons that come to mind. My additional reasoning though, is that Dwight Howard is not the guy that will carry a team to a title. Not now for sure and I don’t know if he’ll ever turn into a guy that can. James Harden is not going to carry his team to a championship any time soon. Kobe can. If Kobe Bryant comes back healthy and Dwight and Pau can continue to develop the chemistry they found towards the latter part of last season, I think this automatically places the Lakers ahead. A healthy Kobe is a big “if” but if there is anything I have learned over the years is to never doubt Kobe. The guy is a machine, a machine that has temporarily broken down.
So there is my reasoning for why Dwight should stay in LA. I would not be surprised if he didn’t though; it is obvious that he does not embrace the pressure that comes with playing for the Lakers, and, to be honest, D’Antoni does not have the appeal other coaches have.
Clearly, by other coaches I mean Phil Jackson.
If Dwight leaves the first person to blame is not Mike D’Antoni, it’s not Kobe Bryant, it’s Jim Buss. You think Dwight would be having all these doubts if Phil Jackson was the coach. Come on. If anything, Dwight would be begging the Lakers to bring him back to play for Jackson again and quite frankly, Kobe probably would not have broken down and the Lakers might have made some noise in the playoffs.
If, might, if…All these hypothetical scenarios were just one decision away. If Dwight leaves, it’s on Jim Buss.
What would life after Dwight be like? Well, the Lakers do not have cap flexibility to make any other significant signings. Apart from Pau Gasol (they better not trade Pau), they have no other tradable assets. Additionally, it is not certain Kobe will be healthy for the start of the season (I think he will) and so the roster will be very similar to last years’. This is unless Mitch Kupchak works his magic like he has so many times before and the Lakers end up with a team in the top tier of the western conference.
All that remains now is to wait for Dwight to make his decision and go from there. Not the ideal situation to be in, but then again, we could be the Bobcats…