Dwight Howard made it clear that the only team he would sign a long-term contract with was the Brooklyn Nets. But now reports surface that Howard has included the Los Angeles Lakers as a team he would re-sign with if traded there.
If ESPN sources are correct, the major hold up to a deal that would land L.A. the premier big man would be cleared.
As of Wednesday night, the Lakers had not been notified of any change in Howard’s thinking, a league source told ESPNLosAngeles.com, but had always figured he would commit to staying with the franchise once he experienced being part of a championship culture.
In fact, the Lakers have been willing to make a trade for Howard even without assurances he would sign an extension.
The Lakers are ready and eager to trade for Howard — with a package built around their all-star center Andrew Bynum– but that Orlando is holding up the deal.
The Magic, while willing to trade Howard, are not in a rush, and are prepared to wait until they get a deal they like.
The Lakers remained dogged in their pursuit of Howard late into the night Wednesday and plan to continue discussions Thursday, a league source told ESPNLosAngeles.com, but the longer the process drags on, the more it complicates their other offseason business, and might force them to consider moving on.
One potential holdup is Bynum’s unwillingness to sign a long-term extension in Orlando. Although Bynum has not completely ruled out playing with the Magic, sources said, he will not sign an extension with them, and instead will wait until after the season to potentially test the free-agent market.
The Lakers have talked with Cleveland and Houston, both of whom have interest in Bynum, about being a third team to help facilitate the trade. Both clubs have the draft picks Orlando wants in any deal.
The Magic also want to rid themselves of some of their more onerous contracts, like those of Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson.
If a Howard trade isn’t feasible, the Lakers will turn their attention to resuming extension talks with Bynum and re-signing forward Jordan Hill.