Dwight Howard Deal Puts Miami Heat and LeBron James on Notice

Two years ago, the Los Angeles Lakers were looking for their second three-peat in roughly a decade. They weren’t that worried about the Miami Heat’s new “super team” construction project.

The Lakers had size and length in the paint and were ready to bully anybody that tried to come through the lane. What they quickly found out against a hot iron Mavericks attack was the game was evolving. Having big men was great but you needed enough mobility on the defensive end and firepower on the offensive end to hang with a new brand of basketball.

Athleticism is the new end-game in the NBA. If you can combine prowling defensive players with outside shooting and impeccable ball movement, you’re going to be really hard to beat. It's unclear if the Miami Heat coming together started this trend, but they certainly accelerated it.

After the Oklahoma City Thunder handled the slow and plodding Lakers during the 2012 playoffs, it was pretty obvious that Los Angeles was going to have to make significant improvements to become contenders again. Their size was fantastic but it was no longer smothering against the elite teams.

First step was going out and getting Steve Nash. I wrote this on HoopSpeak.com back when they made the sign-and-trade with Phoenix:

So how did the Lakers sell him on the idea of playing for them? Kobe Bryant apparently made a convincing push to get Nash to done the Forum Blue and Gold jerseys, but you can’t dismiss just how much tradition plays into this. The Lakers prove time and time again that they’re one of the best teams at recognizing when it’s time to approach struggling franchises. They did it when they acquired Pau Gasol. They do it whenever they seem to need a key addition to the roster.

They rarely just go out and sign big free agents. That’s not really their deal (although Shaq was obviously the biggest of free agency splashes f...

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