As I said in part 1, I got a little more invested in Howard than I should have. Just a few weeks ago, I was telling friends that if Howard walked on the Lakers, good riddance. In fact, I said that I was wholly apathetic about Howard. If he signed-back, great. If not, fine. I could be talked into either scenario.
But then it looked like my beloved Warriors might land him, and I crossed the line of rationality. I talked myself into loving Dwight, and everything he stands for.
Time to step back.
Rockets had to grab Dwight, but, “Can’t shoot, bad handle, mediocre passer, short for a center, FTs, back injury” are all concerns.
— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) July 7, 2013
Yep. What he said.
Howard is a flawed product. That matters a lot less playing for the Warriors than the Lakers. With the Warriors, we would have been happy to be a contender. With the Lakers, it is all about championships. And Howard is no champion. He may turn out to be an accidental champion, if James Harden is a true champ, and just needs good sidekicks. Howard certainly makes the Rockets relevant for the next few years. But as things stand now, they are only the 5th best team in the West.
Still, I care a lot less about the Rockets than the Lakers. And the Lakers just got totally crushed. Because no matter how flawed Howard is, there is no one else walking through that door. He was the one they could build around, use to bait Lebron or Carmelo, or at least pretend to be a contender, like today’s Rockets.
The Lakers are about to enter the NBA’s Twilight Zone. They will not be able to make the playoffs (or maybe they will – a team with Kobe, Pau, and 10 other guys has got a shot at the playoffs in any given year). They will not get a high lottery pick. They will struggle to attract free agents (who will want to play for a non-Twilight Zone team).
Let’s get real – Lebron is not coming. Lebron will finish his career in Miami.
So, after a lost season, who can the Lakers get next summer to re-ignite hope?
Here’s a name for you: Kevin Love. Personally, I am not a fan. But… he has cachet, he is “available” (as they say in Hollywood), and he would probably thrive in the D’Antoni system. If the Lakers re-sign Kobe and Pau at reasonable rates, land Love, and add a couple of 3-and-D wings, they can at least get in the conversation.
If they miss on Love, they should probably swallow their pride and ask the Warriors about David Lee. This would be in the nature of a salary dump by the Warriors, in which the Lakers get Lee and the Warriors get cap room. The Warriors may not be interested. But I think Lee would do well as a running 4 in D’Antoni’s system.
Or… look at what the Mavs are doing this summer. They are reloading for a 3-year run with Dirk. But not with marquee free agents. They are signing journeymen. Is that enough to make them championship contenders? Or just enough to ensure playoff appearances?