Are Lakers Doomed in Free Agency If Dwight Howard Bolts LA?

Any way you slice it, the Los Angeles Lakers face a very difficult offseason regardless of what Dwight Howard decides to do.

The reality of losing D12 to free agency, however, could prove to be more painful simply because the Lakers would be left with just a few options to bring in new players.  With one mini mid-level exception and the veteran's minimum option, the Lakers would probably see their hopes of winning a title in 2013-14 dashed before opening night in November.

Without Dwight Howard, the Lakers will have a much more difficult time convincing established veterans to come to Los Angeles.  An injured and aging Kobe Bryant doesn't help that situation, though the Black Mamba insists he'll be back on the court before the end of the year.

July 1 is the date that Howard can negotiate with teams, including the Lakers.  Right now, everyone is in hurry-up-and-wait mode.  After July 1, expect an avalanche of activity on all fronts.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak has been making a case for Howard to decide on his future as soon as possible.  Signing him to a five-year contract for $118 million would certainly entice veteran free agents still looking for an NBA championship to take less and come play for the Lakers, like what Antawn Jamison did last season.

Kupchak said to reporter Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times in April:

I think he understands that the sooner he makes a decision, the better it is for everybody. I don't know if that means a week, a month or seven weeks. It allows us to plan and it allows him to start putting down roots in the city.  People can no longer say, 'I wonder what he's going to do?  Is he going to be gone?' We're hoping that he chooses to stay in Los Angeles.

Kupchak and Lakers executive vice president of player personnel Jim Buss have to be discussing several doomsday plans and what direction to ta...

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