The Los Angeles Lakers are now reportedly fearful that Dwight Howard will leave. The free agent center is the most coveted player left on the market, and is mulling his decision in Colorado, according to several reports.
Howard has entertained offers from L.A., the Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks, Golden State Warriors, and the assumed front-runner Houston Rockets.
According to a report from ESPN, the Lakers are starting to imagine a world without Howard next season, and are possibly preparing for a sign-and-trade deal. L.A. would at least get some players or picks in return for the 27-year-old considered to be the best big man in the game.
The Rockets are believed to be the favorites to land Howard, even though L.A. can offer him an extra year and $30 million more on his contract. However, the Lakers could agree to a sign-and-trade deal, in which Howard wouldn’t leave the money on the table and L.A. can still acquire some assets. But the Lakers are reportedly hesitant to take back any contracts.
ESPN’s report states the Rockets are prepared to offer point guard Jeremy Lin, and staunch center Omer Asik to the Lakers.
Lin launched into another stratosphere under head coach Mike D’Antoni’s system with the New York Knicks, and a reunion in Los Angeles could prove fruitful once again. The 24-year-old initially struggled in Houston, especially with his shooting, but settled down later in the year averaging 13.4 points and 6.1 assists per game
D’Antoni’s system has always been run through point guards and Lin, along with Steve Nash, could give the Lakers offense a more dynamic and fluid look.
Lin could also serve as insurance if Nash misses time with injuries again. The two-time MVP sat out 32 games with a leg injury last season. Defense, however, will still be an issue as both players leave the Lakers defense susceptible to quick, penetrating guards.
Lin and Asik signed nearly identical restricted free agent offer sheets last year, with $14 million of the $29 million they are owed over the next two years coming in the 2014-15 season. That may be a big hinderance, considering the Lakers were hoping to have plenty of cap room in 2014, when LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwyane Wade could be on the free agent market.
Asik, originally from Turkey, started all 82 games in his first year with Houston last season, and was third in the NBA with 11.7 rebounds a game, along with 10.1 points. With just three years experience under his belt, Asik has molded himself into one of the better centers in the league.