The Definitive Case for LA Lakers Spurning Dwight Howard in Free Agency


Memo to Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak: Are you really sure you want to hand over the franchise keys to Dwight Howard?

As NBA free agency looms (July 1), the burning question for Los Angeles Lakers fans is whether it makes sense to sign the 27-year old, 6-11 center to a five-year, $118 million contract extension.  That is, if Howard even wants to remain in Los Angeles.

With Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol due a combined $49 million in the final year of their respective contracts, is it worth tying up so much more money to keep Howard?  Has he really demonstrated that he's worthy of the tag "franchise player"?   

While most NBA pundits acknowledge him as one of the game's elite players and a defensive force, there are enough red flags to suggest that Dwight Howard does not possess the stuff of champions that  can lead the Lakers for the next five to 10 years.

Although publicly reiterating their No. 1 goal in the offseason is to sign Howard to a long-term deal, the L.A. Lakers should do the prudent thing and let the big man go. It's obvious that Howard wants to play under a coach (Phil Jackson?  Kevin McHale?) who has had success with centers and half-court games.  Mike D'Antoni in Los Angeles is not that guy.

The reasons to let Howard walk are clear and, while unpopular with D12 fans, will put the Lakers in a much better position to grab a couple of the league's top free agents in 2014.  If Howard leaves this year, Gasol departs in 2014 and Kobe Bryant either retires or re-signs for less, the Lakers will have enough money for one or two max contracts and a third player at a pretty high salary level. 

The likelihood of the Lakers winning a title this coming season is very slim, even with Howard on their roster.  Bryant is coming back from Achilles surgery and the team is so far over the salary cap, it can only use a mini mid-level ($3 mi...

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