There are more than just two players heading into free agency in 2013, but only two are what really interests most of the NBA. Dwight Howard didn’t enjoy his first season with the Los Angeles Lakers, while Chris Paul was disappointed with how this season ended for the Los Angeles Clippers. Both of them might end up playing for someone else when the summer is over.
There have been talks about somehow accommodating both of them on the same team. The Atlanta Hawks can make that happen in terms of salary cap, but that would give the Hawks a very short roster and as the Lakers taught us this season, building a very top heavy roster without any room for maneuvering and having reliable players on the bench isn’t the best idea in the world. Sure, having a lineup of Howard, Horford, Paul and Lou Williams sounds very good, but while what the Celtics and Heat did in the last five years paid off, the Lakers kinda took a bite out of the enthusiasm over the Super-Team idea.
Other teams? Certain trade scenarios are possible for about everyone in the league; anything is possible, but there are very few packages both the Lakers and the Clippers will be willing to look at in order to agree to some sort of sign and trade for these two players.
When the season began, or just before that, when Dwight Howard was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, it seemed like a no-brainer. Howard was part of a lineup that included Steve Nash (also a newcomer), Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace and Pau Gasol. What could go wrong? What could possibly stop Howard from denying himself the chance to become the franchise player for years to come on the NBA’s most glitzy franchise?
Kobe Bryant happened. A media that prefers blaming Howard for bad results than looking at everyone else. Sure, Dwight was slightly disappointing, but injuries and a rough social ladder that leaves no room for someone to compete with Kobe Bryant took its toll as well. Howard might be the best center in the NBA, and staying with the Lakers means more money than anywhere else, but signing a max contract with another team means about the same average salary, only for a shorter time. If it also means he’ll be happier and play on a team that focuses on him, it sounds like a better idea.
Chris Paul was always going to decide based on how far the Clippers went in the postseason. Compared with last season, they had a more talented roster, which led them to the conference semifinals in 2012. This season they won their first two games, but fell apart in Memphis, despite Paul being the only consistent offensive threat all series long, averaging 22.8 points per game on 53.3% from the field. It’s the guys around him that didn’t live up to what was expected of them, and neither was the coaching.
Maybe all it takes if firing Vinny Del Negro, and Paul might jump back on board. That’s not a guarantee, but the Clippers aren’t a better team because of their head coach. They’re a better team because Paul plays for them, and the moment he walks, all the rest of their deep roster is in big trouble.
The Lakers are already in a mess, not knowing how good Kobe Bryant will be next season, and without Dwight Howard re-signing for them are pretty much incapable of making any moves in free agency, unless they manage an interesting trade that usually happens. While it was hard to believe both players might be leaving their teams when the 2013 summer arrived, both of them are opting to think and possibly test free agency. For both of them, it might be the better option individually, but disastrous for their current teams.