The prettiest girl in school wasn’t asked to prom. A shock to everyone, I know. Shouldn’t we all be upset? This is a basketball travesty… if you hate the Los Angeles Lakers. Dwight Howard leaving was best for both sides. Let’s take a look at why Howard and the Lakers will be better off following this breakup.
At the end of the day, Howard was playing odds: Should he stick with the team that has an aging core, or go with the talented young guns? Objectively, it’s hard to see why a player in his prime years would be interested in playing with a 39-year-old point guard, a Hall of Fame shooting guard with a torn Achilles in his 18th season and two other talented starters the front office puts on the trading block at the sign of any trouble. It also doesn’t help that the Lakers refused to hire an 11-time NBA champion head coach that Howard specifically requested.
The Houston Rockets have a better chance at an NBA championship with a younger, more talented roster than the Lakers. It’s not a stretch to argue that Houston now boasts the best players at the shooting guard and center positions for the next four years. The Rockets’ front office is a creative group with sizable cap space available for use during free agency, or during upcoming seasons to upgrade the roster. Additionally, Howard believes that Kevin McHale and Hakeem Olajuwon will give the tutelage necessary to reach his ceiling as a player, however high that may be. Howard left $30 million on the table, but he will likely earn another max-contract once this four-year deal expires. Barring a cataclysmic injury to Howard or Harden, the Rockets will contend for a championship for the next four years. It’s a no-brainer decision for Howard.
The Los Angeles Lakers
Sources have informed me that Kobe Bryant is not immortal. He could retire after next season, or in the next decade. Either way, Lakers’ fans and management have to accept that the Kobe of old is now just Old Kobe and begin planning for the future. The 2014 NBA Draft is set to be the best infusion of talent for the league in a decade. It would behoove the Lakers to swallow their pride, collect assets through trades and accept that the 2013-14 NBA season will not end in a championship. The dream is dead. The window has been closed air-tight. The Fat Lady sung her favorite song. The Kobe Era is done and that’s okay.
For once in the past few years, the Lakers’ front office did the smart thing and chose not to take on assets as part of a sign-and-trade for Dwight Howard. Here are the current contracts on the books for the Lakers and Rockets. Any player the Lakers would want for compensation in a sign-and-trade is an expensive contract that extends past the upcoming season. The right move is to let the next season play out without placing unrealistic expectations on the team. The Lakers will have more cap room than almost every team in the NBA once next offseason begins and a decent draft pick in a loaded draft.
No matter what happens next year, the Lakers will not win an NBA championship. The worst-case scenario would have been guaranteeing another first-round exit with an unhappy Howard while the fanbase kept comparing this old, injured roster to the 1980s Showtime Lakers. At least now the prettiest girl in school has to acknowledge there’s more than one reason she wasn’t asked to prom than that one zit on her face.