Breaking Down Lakers Replacement Plan if Dwight Howard Leaves LA

As Dwight Howard heads into the 2013 offseason as a free agent, there is a distinct possibility the Los Angeles Lakers will lose him to another team.

In the event this happens, the Purple and Gold must come up with a contingency plan.

If Howard walks away, the best that Laker general manager Mitch Kupchak can do is engineer a sign-and-trade transaction. Choosing this route helps out the Lakers, given that they do not lose the coveted big man for nothing.

Indeed, a sign-and-trade gives the Lakers assets. Granted, they might not necessarily be great ones. For the purposes of illustrating this situation, we will use the Houston Rockets as example.

Most seem to agree that Houston is Howard’s desired landing spot. Per Hoopsworld, the Rockets must forgo re-signing any of their own free agents and terminate any non-guaranteed deals they have with current players in order to make a run at the Laker center.

However, the 2013-14 salary cap figure is unknown at the present time. It should be announced a little after the moratorium that concludes on July 10th, per Larry Coon’s NBA Salary Cap FAQ. It’s possible that Houston will not have the requisite cap space to sign Howard outright to a maximum level contract. In this case, the Lakers could negotiate a sign-and-trade deal with the Rockets.

Then the question becomes: Whom could Kupchak possibly desire on the Houston roster other than James Harden?

Let’s be clear here, the Rockets are not trading Harden. They could offer up Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik, Thomas Robinson or Chandler Parsons, to name a few. The Lakers already have Steve Nash and Steve Blake signed at point guard, thus Lin is not needed.

Asik could be an interesting option, but his lack of a refined offensive game and the fact that he’s a poor free-throw shooter could severely restrict his minutes in Mike D’Antoni’s system.
Article Source: Bleacher Report - Los Angeles Lakers