Grading Los Angeles Lakers’ Early Free-Agency Moves

For the first time I can remember, the Los Angeles Lakers brand failed to be sufficient bait for a top-tier free agent. Dwight Howard's decision, or more comically dubbed "indecision," was a splash of ice-cold water on the storied organization.

The free-agency period opened on July 1, at which time the Lakers invested their full effort into a pitch to Howard.

News flash: This story is already history, and if the Lakers are to be back in title contention anytime soon (right now, they're not even close), management has to turn the page quickly.

NBA free agency surely won't slow down to wait for L.A.'s most storied franchise. The biggest names of the season are flying off the list, joining new homes with high aspirations and fresh new contracts.

The biggest snag for the Lakers is a financial one: Los Angeles is consistently over the salary cap, and even without Dwight, the books won't clear up for another calendar year.

Kobe Bryant has been in the news recently talking about his $30.5 million he'll earn during the upcoming campaign, as reported by Serena Winters of Lakers Nation.

Kobe's contract, along with those of Steve Nash and Pau Gasol, have severely limited what GM Mitch Kupchak can do with a constantly shrinking list of NBA free agents during the 2013 summer. Here's a move-by-move analysis of how the first chapter of the offseason has panned out so far for L.A.


Losing Dwight

Technically, this isn't a "move." Howard selected another destination over his home in L.A. However, the buzz surrounding his decision has dominated the NBA scene so far this summer.

The Lakers could certainly have had a better start to what they thought would be a remodel rather than a complete rebuild. Dwight, in several drawn-out days, ended such ideas.

After Dwight's deal finalizes, fans and players alike will have all sorts of questions...

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