Well… that didn't quite work out the way we all expected. Dwight Howard turns out to be a 1 year rental, and the Lakers serve as a placeholder for him whilst he recuperates from back surgery. Now, I realise that's to paint the scenario in pretty much what amounts to the worst possible light, but what there is incorrect?
So… Dwight Howard. To the Rockets.
Whilst #12 leaving did upset me a little, that was more self-righteous indignation that someone would actually leave the Lakers – and that is somewhat ridiculous…
Because at the end of the day, Dwight Howard is not the guy I envisage being the face of the franchise, the leader of team, in the years post Kobe Bryant.
Will the Lakers be better without Dwight? Will Chris Kaman be a better fit? Will the Lakers be competing for a title in the coming season? Of course not – or if you think they will be, you should head to some interactive sports betting
site right this minute – and put some cold, hard cash on that. I'd imagine the odds would be very long.
But long term, or even in the "not-too-distant" term, the Lakers are better off without Dwight Howard.
This is of course precluding some late maturity occurring from Dwight. I'm operating on the assumption that there is going to be no late age emotional growth from the man. He is who he is. Of course, the Lakers knew that when they signed him up.
They also thought they knew who he was when they signed on Mike D'Antoni – a signing that they believed at the time would favour Howard's game… and they'd studied the tape incessantly.
Howard's most efficient offensive weapon is the pick and roll. Paired with Steve Nash, and running in an offense predicated on the pick and roll… it should have worked out well.
Two problems. First of all, Nash had his worst ever season injury-wise… and Dwight Howard doesn't like the pick 'n roll. Ignoring that he's nearly twice as efficient a scorer performing that as posting up, Dwight prefers to see himself as a low post presence. A more traditional center's role that he's simply not physically built for – for all his superhero-like muscularity. He simply lacks the mass that Shaq had to perform in the same way. Howard's a smaller guy, and his size is in his shoulders. Shaq had a backside that you needed a compass and a cut-lunch to get around.
So… it failed. "It" being the Dwight-does-LA experiment… and he moves on. To Houston. But sans any semi-miraculous changes there, it could all work out rather deja vu for Howard. That team would be very well constructed for the pick and roll offense they already run, but if D12's expectation is that they should turn James Harden into a spot-up shooter, well… that would be a great pity.
Dwight's somewhat ignominious departure is at least somewhat redolent of LeBron's leaving Cleveland. "The Decision" vs "The Indecision", if you will.
One significant difference is the Dan Gilbert prediction at the end. Whilst he was wrong (and has been proven to be so – twice now) in stating categorically that the Cavaliers would win a title before James (whoops!), who would you bet on in regards to winning a title first: Dwight or the Lakers?
Howard finishing his playing career without a ring would surprise me not.
As far as the Lakers? Where to now? It appears as if they're focusing heavily on 1 year contracts. Clearing a hellacious amount of space leading into next year's free agency – where some of the biggest names in basketball are available. But I'd side with Bill Simmons
and take it one step further. The Lakers should be tearing it down this coming season, and "riggin' for Wiggins".
There are a helluva lotta good picks in a very strong draft next season. Trade Nash. Sell Pau near the deadline. Encourage Kobe to take his time with his achilles rehab. Go one better than Riley and get good picks and massive space for free agents.
Whichever way it goes, it's with a sense of relief that I see the purple and gold move forward sans Dwight Howard.