Posted by on Feb 22, 2013 in Dwight Howard, Lakers Analysis, Opinion, Pau Gasol | 2 comments


Boring, but smart. This despite the host of voices (some screamier than others) warning of dire consequences if the Lakers didn”t ship Dwight Howard by Thursday afternoon. Fire and brimstone and rapture and all that, splitting open the earth in El Segundo and swallowing the practice facility whole. (In this scenario, the Kings — who share the Toyota Center with the Lakers — become collateral damage, I suppose.)

All of it, of course, was kind of ridiculous.

The first few months of the Howard Era have without question been no fun for anyone, most notably Howard. I have no idea if he”ll eventually get happy enough to commit to the franchise long term. It”s certainly possible Howard decides to go somewhere else next year.

I don”t know, and I don”t think he does, either.

But even with that understanding, it still didn”t make much sense for the Lakers to trade him now. Doing so would have amounted to a panic move for an organization that doesn”t do that sort of thing.

A few reasons why: 

  • Howard”s value isn”t as high as it could be. He”s been inconsistent and mopey, and most importantly hasn”t shown signs of full health. At the very least, the latter could improve over the closing weeks of the season, and seems less likely to get worse. Even if the endgame is a trade, it”s worth giving Dwight 20 more games to remind people he”s a superstar. You get more stuff for a superstar.
  • Thursday wasn”t the end of the road. The Lakers aren”t resigning themselves to losing Howard for nothing by not trading him at the deadline. As a tax-paying team, the CBA precludes the Lakers from acquiring a player via sign-and-trade, but not sending out their own signed player. If Howard wants to go to Brooklyn, for example, this is how he”ll get there.
  • The deadline is a bad place to make a good deal. This year, it”s apparently a bad place to make any deal, but that”s beyond the point. There are too many fast moving parts in February. It”s much easier to put together a solid trade in the relative calm of the offseason.  In part because …
  • The Lakers will have far more flexibility this offseason. Come July, Pau Gasol”s value (hopefully) rises following a recovery from the plantar fascia tear. Howard has shown more of his star form with greater consistency. Most importantly, the Lakers can balance their two seven-footers against each other. If Howard chooses to leave, they can keep Pau. They can trade Gasol to better build around Howard. Or they can trade both, or (less likely) keep both. But it makes more sense to tackle those questions in concert, not piecemeal
  • A year removed from back surgery, Howard is a good bet to again regain that superstar form the Lakers traded for. Attitude questions aside, players like him are incredibly hard to come by, and should only be traded as a last resort.

None of this is to say there isn”t risk associated with Howard. But there”s risk in trading him, too. Pulling the trigger now would have been a mistake. As for the rest of the roster, there have been some grumblings among fans, wondering why the Lakers couldn”t trade any spare parts for  a Jordan Hill-type big. Obviously that didn”t happen.

If you”re disappointed, ask yourself this: If you were the other GM, would you trade a Jordan Hill Type for Devin Ebanks? Chris Duhon?

Didn”t think so.