How the Los Angeles Lakers Rebuild Their Front Line If Dwight Howard Goes

Watch out, Los Angeles Lakers fans! The sky is falling! 

Earl Clark is leaving town!

Okay, so maybe I'm being facetious about the impact of losing Clark to the Cleveland Cavaliers on a two-year, $9 million pact, as reported by Sean Deveney of the Sporting News. He brought some nice things to the table as a versatile, athletic rebounder, shooter and defender under Mike D'Antoni last season.

But the real story here still rests on the meaty shoulders of Dwight Howard. The free agency pitches have been, well, pitched, and now Dwight is off to Colorado, where he'll spend time clearing his head and mulling over his options for the future.

Anything other than a return to LA for Howard would all but ensure that the Lakers are screwed (to some degree) for the upcoming season. Their current salary situation is such that they're already deep into luxury tax territory, even without Howard's hefty payday on the books, and thus subject to a number of crippling personnel-related restrictions under the current collective bargaining agreement.

Howard's departure would leave the Lakers with Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace and Jordan Hill in the frontcourt and only the mini-mid-level exception, worth a shade over $3 million per season, and veteran's minimum contracts with which to woo free agents to the City of Angels.

That's hardly ideal, to put it mildly, and even less so when considering a couple other crucial factors:

1. Kobe Bryant will be out for at least the first month or so of the season while recovering from a torn Achilles. Heck, he probably won't be anywhere near proper playing shape until, say, February or March of 2014 at the earliest, assuming he ever will be.

2. Steve Nash is coming off an injury-plagued season that, in nearly every way, was his worst since the 1999-00 campaign with the Dallas Mavericks. Moreover, Nash turns 40 in February of 2014, which means he'...

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