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If you were one of the thousands attending the inaugural BET Experience which held LA Live hostage for fun this past weekend, you couldn’t help but notice the Lakers plea for free agent center Dwight Howard to return.
The giant billboard on the façade of the Staples Center said it all: STAY. #STAY D12
In other words, the Lakers brass are on bending knees begging Howard to sign with the team for a $118 million instead of taking a measly $88 million from Houston.
All of this unfolded the night before NBA’s Christmas, or when free agents can be contacted by prospective teams, but with Chris Paul declaring he would re-up with the Clippers all eyes were on D12.
Howard who waffles more than a politician has sent out the message that he wants to win championships and be happy.
Thus he’s opened the opportunity for his services to Houston, Dallas, his hometown Atlanta and latecomer Golden State.
Dallas is the only team that has won a championship, but he can be happy dreaming about one in Houston and Oakland where the Warriors play.
The aging Lakers which barely made the playoff with him last season hopes that he give them another chance with Kobe healing from season ending Achilles surgery and an aging roster that has Steve Nash and Pau Gasol who now the second best player in his own family.
Although multiple media reports have suggested the Lakers players would be more inspired to prove last season a fluke without Howard, few if anyone actually believe such buffoonery.
Right now the Lakers are in such a flux since the death of its iconic owner Jerry Buss earlier this year that Phil Jackson flew back to his home in Montana instead of staying to pitch Howard to stay and play for Mike D’Antoni.
In the meantime, their once ugly step child neighbors---the Clippers have lured one of the best coaches in the league Doc Rivers to leave Boston to come here and retained their treasured point guard Paul.
The operative question here is not whether Howard wants to play for the Lakers, he’s already suggesting that he does not, but whether anyone else on the free agent radar wants to?
Have the Lakers front office even contemplated such a scenario?
Sources indicate the team has reached out to former Lakers guard Jordan Farmar and former Clipper Matt Barnes as possible supplements to attract Howard, but let’s just assume that Howard forgoes Hollywood.
Other available centers include former Laker Andrew Bynum who missed all of last season with two bum knees, the solid Al Jefferson free agent of Utah, New Orleans free agent Robin Lopez and former Clipper Chris Kaman.
If the Lakers wanted to up grade in the back court there is local boy Brandon Jennings one of the rising stars in the NBA, sharp shooter Monta Ellis, O.J. Mayo and the freakish Tyreke Evans.
The most intriguing wing is Andre Igudola, but you’ve got Kobe and the best power forward is Josh Smith, but you’ve got Gasol.
Oh, the Lakers did draft Duke’s 6’11 Ryan Kelly, but when has Mitch Kupchak drafted a player that actually contributed to the team and was retained for a second contract.
The Lakers have always been a franchise that got what they wanted when they needed it. Just the fact they were the Lakers was an edge in itself, but not in today’s NBA.
Instead of wanting to be a Laker, young players such as James Harden and Russell Westbrook wants to beat the Lakers.
If D12 thought it was bad last year, let him resign and the Lakers don’t compete for a title next year and he’d wish he was back in Orlando.
Howard is like to bride right before the wedding who says she’s having second thoughts.
He didn’t really have a choice when Orlando unloaded him to the Lakers, but he’s got plenty now.