Howard gives no clue as to which way he is leaning.
The Nets call the Lakers.
They tell the Lakers that Lopez, an All-Star, is not available, and they plan to move him to the 4 spot if Howard becomes their center. They express their sympathy with the Lakers’ plight, and then they tell L.A. what they’ll give up in a sign-and-trade. (They would also have to clear additional salary, because luxury tax teams cannot do sign and trades, but my cap guru said it would be difficult but NOT impossible.)
It won’t be someone the caliber of Josh Smith, who Atlanta would be willing to yield in a sign-and-trade. But it would be a collection of young players and possibly draft picks that would speed the rebuilding process in Los Angeles by 2-3 years.
That consolation package would ultimately included a banger (Kris Humphries) on a short contract, a young, talented point guard (Tyshawn Taylor), a pair of excellent Eurostash prospects in Bogan Bogdanovic and Ilkan Karaman, along with a future first-round draft pick (if Billy King is inclined to be generous to include one of those) or a player like MarShon Brooks.
Not a whole lot.
But again, better than nothing … which would be the alternative for the Lakers if Howard chose the Mavericks.
Again, it’s a leverage game. People need to understand that.
Howard is sitting on a king-high flush in this game of leverage poker.
“Whatcha gonna do, Lakers?”
Dwight Howard will be in position to ask L.A. that question in the second week in July, and you can be damn sure he knows it. That’s part of the reason why he’s keeping his mouth shut.
Brooklyn not only remains possible, it is actually plausible.
Chris Sheridan is the publisher and editor-in-chief of SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter.