The umbrella under which all Dwight Howard free agency conversation falls is this: The Lakers are in a good position.
If Dwight leaves LA, then he didn’t want to be there. He didn’t want to be a Laker. He didn’t want to play under those lights. Cough, cough, afraid, cough. It’s that simple. If your boyfriend or girlfriend walks out that door, they didn’t want you, and you’re better off without them.
I could make the case for the Lakers being in a better spot if Dwight leaves. I’d be lying a whole bunch, but I could make it. Tanking, moving up in the draft, and rebuilding with a clean slate in 2014 doesn’t sound all that bad to me, but even if Dwight’s never 100% again, and even if he can’t carry the Lakers to a title as the #1 guy (I believe he cannot), Dwight Howard is the safest play. He’s safer than the draft, and he makes the Lakers more attractive to a big free agent in 2014.
To that end, here’s “The Pitch.” If Lakers GM, Mitch Kupchak, just reads this verbatim, the Lakers are good:
You know you should be playing for the Los Angeles Lakers. Your fan base will never be bigger, your legacy will never be greater, and your wallet will never be fatter than if you play well, and win in LA. That’s not up for debate. With our grand history and continued relevance, with 5 titles since 2000, paired with our market size and global presence, we are the NBA’s premiere franchise, We have 16 Championships. The golden trophies are laying around on the floor upstairs. We can’t even find enough shelves for those motherfuckers.
And here’s the thing, Dwight: It’s your team. Now.
Kobe’s laid up, and even when he returns to 100%, he’ll likely never be the same guy again. Kobe will be your #2. He’s already begun the process. He started passing last season! Do you know how difficult that is for him?!? And it gets better. You’ll be open more because he’ll continue to draw double teams based on the fact everyone assumes he’s always going to shoot.
If anybody knows what it’s like to grow up wanting that #1 spot, it’s Kobe. He’ll pass the torch. He went through this with Shaq. He gets it. He knows his position right now. He just wants you to give 100% all the time, and if you do, he’ll stay in the cut. He did it in 2001, even though he believed he was better than Shaq, and we won the title. He will do it again.
I can tell you don’t believe me. Here’s another reason you can be sure Kobe will give do whatever it takes: He needs to win a 6th and 7th title, and he needs to win them with the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe’s obsessed with beating Jordan, and the only chance he has is to win more titles, and win them with the same team. It’s a legacy play.
And to make sure you two get along, and to make sure Kobe plays his role effectively, we’re bringing back Phil Jackson. Phil is coming back. He’s already with the club because he’s engaged to an owner. He has to help us because his fiance is making him. That’s how marriage works.
No one has a better track record of getting superstars, specifically Kobe Bryant, to play with other superstars than Phil. He will build a bridge between you two. Trust him. This is exactly what he does. Also, no one has a better track record of coaching basketball teams.
We’re hiring Kurt Rambis to be Phil’s conduit this season, and in the Spring, we’ll let D’Antoni go. Phil will takeover as coach then for two reasons: 1.) He’s dying to return. I mean, the guy misses it so much he’s tweeting about basketball games. 2.) He knows he can attract the biggest free agent available next Summer.
With you, Kobe, and a big free agent, Phil will have another great shot at a title to wash away the bad taste of 2011. He wants it too. Just like Kobe. It’s a legacy play.
Maybe there’s another NBA team in a better position to compete for a title next year, but there will be no team in a better position for the future. We only have you and Steve Nash on the books for 2014, and there’s a decent chance Steve Nash passes away from old age. Worst case scenario, Nash is still here, and plays the John Paxson/Steve Kerr role in the triangle better than John Paxson or Steve Kerr ever could’ve dreamed.
We’ll add another top shelf player that fits you perfectly, and we’ll likely have a decent pick in a loaded 2014 draft.
It’s all here, Dwight. Jack, Denzel, Charlize. Beautiful people. Beautiful weather. Hollywood. The beach.
It’s all yours.
Signed, sealed, delivered.