Dwight Howard is dominating the offseason news again.
On Wednesday, we told you there was an ESPN report detailing the early framework of a three-team deal in which the Orlando Magic would send Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers, who would send Andrew Bynum to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who would send Anderson Varejao and a package of draft picks to the Magic.
Now comes a report from RealGM.com that says Howard is willing to commit long-term to the Lakers. In other words, he would sign an extension after this season rather than enter free agency next summer.
From RealGM: ”Howard has always been impressed with the Lakers’ winning tradition and intrigued with the off-court opportunities that come with playing in Los Angeles. Questions about Howard’s role with the team, however, became an early concern for the three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year. Howard has since moved on from those concerns and is confident he will be an integral part of a team that will have a chance to compete immediately for a championship, according to sources that spoke with RealGM. The Lakers are reportedly ready to make the trade, but first need assurance from Howard that he will commit to the team long-term. Sources say Howard is “excited” about the opportunity to play for the Lakers and will re-sign with the team when his contract expires at the end of the 2012-13 season.”
Last season, Howard’s original list of teams where he would sign an extension if traded were the Nets, Mavericks and Lakers. Sheridan Hoops reported that his list expanded to also include the Clippers.
At the trading deadline in March, Howard surprisingly opted into the final year of his contract, triggering the trade talk all over again. When the offseason began, Howard shortened his list to one team – the Nets.
New Magic GM Rob Hennigan has spent most of his time trying to engineer a deal for Howard that would unload one of the bad contracts on his roster and/or bring back a package of young players and draft picks to start a rebuilding project in Orlando.
Hennigan tried to accommodate Howard with a trade to the Nets, who had limited flexibility given their offseason additions of Gerald Wallace, Joe Johnson and Deron Williams and could not convince a third team to take some of their players under contract or free agents in sign-and-trade deals.
When the Nets dropped out of the picture, the Houston Rockets emerged as a potential landing spot for Howard. Rockets GM Daryl Morey has the package of young players and draft picks Hennigan covets, and the team is willing to acquire Howard without the assurance of a long-term commitment from the superstar center.