L.A. Lakers: Johnson to Nets Means Howard Is Available, If the Lakers Want Him

According to Yahoo! Sports, the Atlanta Hawks have reached an agreement to send guard Joe Johnson to the Brooklyn Nets, thus ridding themselves of Johnson's $90 million contract and virtually assuring there will be no Dwight Howard - Deron Williams marriage in the Big Apple, at least for now.

Johnson's sum—coupled with the $40 million extension just signed by Gerald Wallace, the $100 million it will likely take to keep Williams in Brooklyn and the nearly $50 million that Brook Lopez will collect—makes a trade for Howard very unlikely.

But it certainly enhances the Los Angeles Lakers chances of dealing for Howard, if they really want him.

The Lakers have definitely started talking to the Magic about the possibilities of acquiring Howard, but there is no way to gauge Howard's declaration that there is only one team he will sign a long-term contract with.

Does he mean one team period, or just right now?

Howard's Mitt Romney-esque tendency to change direction with the breeze makes it impossible to predict if his latest ultimatum is sincere, but it places the Lakers in a very precarious situation when it comes to the future of the franchise.

The Magic are unlikely to accept any Lakers overture unless it comes gift wrapped with the 24-year-old Andrew Bynum, but the Lakers would be ridiculous to give Bynum away without a contract extension from Howard.

Especially since nothing Howard says or does can be trusted.

As Howard's free agency approached, I was one of his biggest advocates for joining the Lakers, and his progression as the next Lakers big man seemed like a matter of course.

However, Howard's recent acts of immaturity and indecision have tarnished whatever appeal he had in my opinion, and his back injury and subsequent surgery only create more questions.

The Lakers could probably convince Howard to stay in Los Angeles l...

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