Monday, December 22, 2014
Blog Page 36

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Image: Andrew D. Bernstein | Getty Images

As NBA teams begin their free agent processes across the country, no bigger spotlight remains than the one on center Dwight Howard.

With the likes of Houston, Dallas, Golden State, Atlanta and of course, the Lakers, competing for his services, Howard remains poised to choose his own career path.

According to ESPNLA.com’s Ramona Shelburne and Dave McMenamin, Howard remains firm in his claim that this upcoming decision “has to be wholeheartedly his decision and his alone.”

Only one of those teams mentioned, however, can give Howard the type of legacy any NBA center would dream of.

From George Mikan to Wilt Chamberlain to Kareem Abdul-Jabar to Shaquille O’Neal, Howard has the opportunity to become the next great big man in line.

A brand new, rather emotional video compilation created by Samuel Limon “theperson18” and his partner John Ramirez, illustrates the incredible potential Howard has if he remains a Los Angeles Laker.

The YouTube video, titled “Dwight Howard: A Destined Legacy“, documents the sheer magnitude of Howard’s impending free agent decision, and the potential legacy he could leave as the Lakers’ next franchise player.

This past NBA season, filled with disappointment and frustration, leaves the Lakers’ fan base questioning the direction of the Lakers this off-season.

Now, with a full Lakers season under Howard’s belt, the onus falls on the front office to bring back the three-time Defensive Player of the Year.

It is no secret that the Lakers’ fan base remains split on whether Howard is the true long-term answer for the franchise. Howard’s emotional demeanor paired with his jovial attitude has led to this discord among fans.

But, after battling through a surgically repaired back and a torn labrum this past season, Howard has proved that he is willing to make the necessary sacrifices to pursue a championship.

In the video compilation, Kobe Bryant provided support for Howard:

“I think Los Angeles is the perfect spot for [Howard],” Bryant said in the video, “to assert himself, to kind of put his foot down and have his career really take off.”

The support also radiates from former Lakers legend Magic Johnson:

“His personality fits LA. This guy has a chance to take LA over,” Johnson explained, “Kobe Bryant is the ultimate closer. Kobe Bryant only wants to win. That’s who you should want to play with. That’s who you should want to be paired with. Kobe Bryant needs [Howard], and [Howard] needs Kobe Bryant.”

As Dwight Howard prepares for his free agent meeting with the Lakers’ contingent on Tuesday, be sure to give the above video a look.

Howard’s decision is sure to shape the direction of the Lakers’ franchise for years to come.

 

* Video created by Going Beyond, a videography company started in Santa Barbara, California.

Follow Going Beyond & Samuel Limon on TwitterYouTube and Instagram.

Follow LakerNation opinion columnist Alex Lambeth on Twitter. E-mail him at alex.lambeth@lakernation.com.

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Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/US Presswire
Courtesy: Getty Images
Courtesy: Getty Images

Since free agency began Sunday night, Dwight Howard has met with three teams: The Rockets, Hawks, and Warriors, in that order.

Today, Dwight will meet with the Dallas Mavericks before closing the day and his list of free agency meetings with the Lakers.

Here’s a quick roundup of what went on since midnight ET on July 1st:

The Rockets met with Dwight – but not before Mitch swooped in and worked some magic!

Rockets brass maintains that the meeting went “well.” The discussion focused largely on basketball, and Dwight asked them about their ability to add a third star to the Harden/Howard combo.

Reps from Comcast Sportsnet in Houston also discussed TV opportunities in Houston for Howard (Expect the Lakers and their TWC reps to one-up that offering Tuesday).

The Rockets called on former centers Hakeem Olajuwan and Yao Ming, and touted the organization’s ability to win championships around dominant centers (although the Lakers have some experience in that regard as well).

The Lakers haven’t been sitting quietly while Dwight meets with other suitors around town.

Celebrity fan Jack Nicholson made his pitch to Dwight over the phone, offering a taste of the Hollywood edge no other team can match.

Steve Nash and Magic Johnson pitched to the big man on twitter as well.

After seeing Steph Curry at UCLA Tuesday morning, Dwight met with the Hawks, and then Curry’s Warriors.

While information about the Hawks meeting is scarce, the Warriors brought a familiar name to the table.

17 years after recruiting Superman, Shaquille O’Neal to L.A., the great Jerry West is now working to coax Superman II, Dwight Howard, from Laker Land.

Despite every organization claiming  their meetings went “well”  LA and Houston appear to be the frontrunners.

While rumors circulate that the Lakers would be willing to fire  coach Mike D’Antoni in order to keep Howard, Mike is still scheduled to be part of the Lakers elaborate pitch to Dwight this afternoon.

The Lakers are pulling out all of the stops for their presentation, with Jim, Mitch, D’Antoni, Kobe, and Nash all participating.

Reps from Time Warner will be present as well, and may even offer Dwight his own show on TWC Sportsnet. In addition, the Lakers are planning a few “surprises” for Dwight during the pitch.

With no shortage of Hall of Famers, powerful connections, and celebrity fans, these surprises could come from anywhere.

Well Laker Nation, today is the day of the big Lakers pitch.

Will it be enough?

Or will the the best center in the game leave the Purple & Gold?

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Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

On the day the Lakers make their pitch to free agent Dwight Howard, here comes the rumor Laker fans have been waiting for. According to Sportige.com, the Lakers are willing to cut ties with coach Mike D’Antoni in order to keep Dwight Howard.

“The general feeling among the people calling the shots for the Los Angeles Lakers is that if they fail in re-signing Dwight Howard, last season’s attempt at creating a super team is becoming a long-term failure with serious repercussions. In order to avoid that fate, they’re willing to fire Mike D’Antoni.”

The Lakers haven’t hired a coaching staff for D’Antoni yet, a strange development  especially as star assistants like D’antoni’s former aide Alvin Gentry have taken  jobs elsewhere. Not a great sign for coach’s job security, especially when the Lakers’ star free agent has voiced his concerns with D’Antoni’s basketball style.

However, just because the Lakers would be willing to cut ties with Mike, doesn’t mean Howard will call for it. ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reported that Dwight’s camp will not ask for D’Antoni to be fired.

Dwight’s camp is said to be interested in hearing about the organizational structure of the Lakers going forward, and coaching stability, or lack thereof, is going to play a part in his decision.

This should make for an awkward situation at the Lakers pitch meeting today, which D’Antoni is a part of, if his job is really up in the air.

With Dwight looking for an organization pointing in the right direction, the Lakers  will likely have to take a unified stance on coaching, one way or the other.

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PhotoCredit:RyanHurst, Getty Images
PhotoCredit:RyanHurst, Getty Images

Since free agency has began, phones are ringing non-stop with offers and possible trade scenarios to teams all across the league.  The Lakers are definitely not an exception here.  Now that Chris Paul has agreed to re-sign with the Clippers, Dwight Howard is now the top free agent on the market.  The Warriors are one of the ball clubs trying to get the big man to bring his talents to their city, but they wouldn’t be able to just sign him outright like his other suitors. The Warriors would have to sign and trade for Dwight Howard, meaning the Lakers would sign him to his max contract deal and then ship him up north to the Bay Area, much how the Lakers got Steve Nash last year.

Here’s where it gets interesting.  According to RealGM, the Warriors are prepared to offer Los Angeles Andrew Bogut, Harrison Barnes, or Klay Thompson in exchange for Howard and his new contract.  This seems to be a smart trade for both the Lakers and the Warriors because it fills both teams needs quite well.  The Lakers are in definite need of shooters and taller wing players, Barnes and Thompson fill both of those needs perfectly.  However, they will only be receiving one, so which is the better choice?

PhotoCredit:GettyImages
PhotoCredit:GettyImages

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Thompson would be great should Kobe Bryant not be ready for the start of the season, as he could fill in for him and provide valuable scoring.  Barnes would be a great pick as well because he could either boot Metta World Peace from his starting role at small forward or he could offer solid minutes off of a weak bench. They both have their upsides and quite frankly either pick would bolster the Lakers roster which needs a player like Thompson or Barnes.

Then there’s Andrew Bogut who has shown promise of being a top center in the league but just can’t seem to stay healthy for long periods of time.  He’d fill the gaping hole Howard would leave and he would act as solid rim defense as long as he’s healthy and on the floor.

Sending Howard to Golden State requires Dwight wanting to go to Golden State in the first place, or else he won’t sign the contract that would end up getting him there.  Howard most likely wants to play for a Texas team in Houston or Dallas, so the Golden State trade is a long shot at best, but it is the only deal that gives the Lakers something in return.

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Dwight Howard had a scheduled dinner and meeting with the Rockets tonight, who decided to bring an entire crew of about 10 people to the meeting. Included was GM Daryl Morey, James Harden, Chandler Parsons, Head Coach Kevin McHale, HOF Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, among others.

However, prior to their arrival, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak unexpectedly met with Dwight briefly in person, starting the #MitchNinja trend on Twitter.  Although the Lakers are scheduled to meet with Dwight last, Mitch made sure the Lakers got in the first word as well.  Although the media has painted Dwight re-signing with the Lakers as a long shot, sources within the organization say there is still optimism he returns. Sources also say there are a few “surprises” planned for their meeting.

Rockets Chandler Parsons told Y! Sports that the meeting was very promising, went well and focus of conversation was on winning. Adrian Wojnaroski from Y! Sports said the Rockets had Yao Ming Skype Dwight about benefits playing in Houston. Rockets are very confident in landing Dwight and they are already contacting role players to fill the roster around Dwight, Harden and Parsons as their core. The Rockets also traded away F Thomas Robinson, waived Carlos Delfino and Aaron Brooks, and have already discussed the possibility of trading Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin.

GM Daryl Morey tweeted (@dmorey) – Was great meeting with @DwightHoward . Hakeem & Clyde there made it obvious how @DwightHoward & @JHarden13 could be the next gr8 big/wing combo.

Dwight is set to meet with the Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors on Monday, and Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday.

Lakers are scheduled with Dwight Tuesday after the Mavericks where Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash are expected to assist with their pitch.

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Phil Jackson (@philjackson11), on his way to Montana, tweeted Dwight Howard this morning:

@dwighthoward “i’m going up to the country going to paint my mailbox blue.” While i’m there I expect to see you get on board tis ur place

Lakers are expected to meet with Dwight this Tuesday, July 2.

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Dwight will be meeting with the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warrior over the next couple days, but when he goes to his final meeting with the Lakers on Tuesday, Kobe Bryant is expected to be there as well.

Read the rest from Y! Sports Adrian Wojnaroski HERE

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Lakers are possibly targeting F Matt Barnes to make a return with the team. Barnes played two seasons with the Lakers in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 season, but had injury issues in 2011 and inconsistent playing time under former Head Coach Mike Brown in 2012.

Barnes played very well off the bench for the Clippers last season, averaging over 10 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.

Barnes was also a former teammate of Dwight Howard in Orlando.

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Both representatives from the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets are expected to meet Dwight in LA next week to give their pitch.

Houston Rockets are expected to send GM Daryl Morey, Head Coach Kevin McHale, G James Harden, F Chandler Parsons and HOF Hakeem Olajuwon. It should be noted that Dwight has spent time during previous summers working out with Olajuwon and looks up to him. The Rockets also recently hired the Orlando Magic’s strength coach Joe Rogowski, who supposedly has a good relationship with Dwight.

Y! Sports Adrian Wojnaroski (@WojYahooNBA) reported that the Rockets will be meeting with Dwight once free agency starts at 9:01 PM PST on Sunday, June 30 (12:01 EST July 1).

ESPN’s Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) reported that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and F Dirk Nowitzki are planning to meet with Dwight on Tuesday, July 2.

 

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Kobe sat down for a one-on-one interview with Lakers.com Mike Trudell and discussed his Achilles recovery.

During the interview Kobe said (his Achilles) “…feeling very strong, can walk without a limp”

To watch the entire video, click HERE

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A recent report states that Mavericks 2011 NBA Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki has reached out to Dwight to join him in Dallas next season.

Dirk made his pitch recently to Dwight and said “we’d love to have him… when healthy he is the most dominant big in the league”

Mavs & Rockets seem to be the biggest threats to lure Dwight away from LA.

Things promise to heat up leading to Dwight’s decision on July 10.

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Now that the NBA Finals have ended, the basketball world’s attention shifts to the off-season. Beginning with the NBA Draft yesterday and continuing with the beginning of free agency next week, the next three months will shape how the 2013-2014 NBA season goes down.

There might not be a team with a more uncertain future heading into the off-season than the Lakers. Will Dwight stay or will he go? (Here’s my opinion from yesterday in case you missed it)

Do you upgrade an aging roster? Stick to what you have? Get rid of everyone? What exactly should the Lakers do?

Let’s take a look at three options Los Angeles really has this off-season, and which is going to be best for the franchise.

Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers

Re-sign and Build Around Dwight

The most obvious solution would be to go all in and put everything you have to bringing Howard back to Los Angeles. While injuries caused a dip in his production this season, there is no doubt Dwight is a top ten talent in the NBA and the best center in the league when healthy. Howard is a game-changer, especially on the defensive end of the court. With a player like that in the fold, you have a solid core for the next 5-10 years that you can build around.

With gobs of cap space coming in the summer of 2014, and a very impressive list of free agents, the Lakers could secure Howard and be back in contention within a year.

That is of course if the big man wants to be back in the Purple and Gold. Reports have recently surfaced that the Lakers are a long-shot to bring him back. According to ESPN:

Howard is willing to forgo the extra $30 million the Lakers can pay him to play for a coach and in a system he feels will better use his skillset, one source said.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Boston Celtics

Sign-and-trade Dwight for Depth

So if there’s no bringing him back, what can the Lakers do? Another idea that has been thrown around lately has been the concept of sign-and-trading Dwight to a team of his choosing to bring back some assets in return. While Howard would obviously have to agree to sign with the team he is going to, getting something in return is better than allowing Dwight to walk for nothing. (Contrary to popular belief, the Lakers can send a player out in a sign-and-trade, they just can’t bring a player in via sign-and-trade.)

With reports that Chris Paul and Howard want to form their own super team, the most talked about sign-and-trade has D12 going to the Clippers in exchange for Eric Bledsoe and Blake Griffin. Which sounds like a decent deal, except for the fact that the Lakers don’t want to send Howard to their rivals (if you can even call them that) down the hall, and the contract owed Griffin is going to become increasingly tough to justify if all he ever does is dunk and make Kia commercials.

If the Lakers are going to move Howard they need to take advantage of this opportunity and bring in a young talent that can help transform the franchise. A trade that gets the Lakers younger and more talented in exchange for Dwight would be the main objective of the franchise.

So what trade accomplishes these goals? That’s easy. A three-way trade between the Lakers, Clippers, and… (drumroll please) the T’Wolves! Minnesota happens to have a very talented young power forward who most people (Minny included), don’t expect to stick around past his opt-out after this season. A trade sending Dwight to the Clippers, Blake Griffin to the Wolves and Bledsoe and All-Star Kevin Love to the Lakers makes sense for all involved.

Paul and Howard get to team up in Clipper uniforms, Ricky Rubio gets the perfect alley-oop target, and the Lakers get two young, dynamic players to upgrade their roster. Which sounds like the perfect trade, meaning it will be almost impossible to pull off.

Andrew Wiggins 2

Blow it Up and Start Over

So if Dwight doesn’t want to come back, and the Lakers can’t get the right assets in return with a sign-and-trade, what option lies behind the proverbial door number three?

Blow it all up and rebuild. Let Dwight walk. Trade Pau. Amnesty Metta. Don’t bring Kobe back to play this year. Tank, tank, tank, tank, tank. (Then fire D’Antoni, I beg of you.)

If we’ve learned anything from the OKC’s and Spurs of the league, it’s that drafting talent is as important as signing talent. Unless you have Lebron James, you just can’t win in the league today without cheap, young talent.

In Los Angeles, it’s title or bust every season for the Lakers. And with a championship looking less and less likely next season, blowing it up for a franchise-changing lottery pick (Andrew Wiggins anyone?) could be the best route to take.

With ridiculous amounts of cap space next summer, the Lakers could potentially have a great, young talent on a rookie contract and two or three max players in the starting line-up with him. Doesn’t that seem like the best option towards a quick rebuild back into title contention?

The Lakers have some big decisions to make in the next couple of weeks. Will they look for instant gratification again, or decide to finally bite the bullet and rebuild for the future? Either way, you can guarantee it will be an interesting summer in Laker Land.

Belal Abdelfattah is a sports addict, sneaker junkie, and Laker Nation contributor. Follow him on Twitter over at @ItsBelal_A

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