For the Los Angeles Lakers, it was a season full of drama, often surrounding Dwight Howard. The offseason won’t be much different. Dwight will take some time (a mature choice) to get away from all the hoopla and make an unemotional decision on where he’d like to sign his max contract. With the price ceiling the NBA institutes both on individual players’ salaries as well as a teams aggregate salary it is key that “Max Contracts” are given to franchise players. With that said, should it be a given that the Lakers offer such a contract to Dwight Howard?
Because the Lakers traded Andrew Bynum away, the notion of only getting a one-year rental stings, but there are two reasons that does not matter. For one, it is a sunk cost. Awarding a max contract to Dwight Howard has no bearing on the previous dealings and should be considered independently of the cost to acquire him last season. Secondly, Andrew Bynum is a injury-prone player, a garbage person, and a free-agent himself.
But the bigger reason…
As I wrote back when it happened, when David Stern blocked a three-way trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers he hurt both teams immensely. Now, the Clippers could see a negative twist for themselves as Chris Paul may choose to leave the Clippers after their Game 6 loss to Memphis. Where better to go than LA’s real team, the Lakers?
AP PHOTO/CHRIS CARLSON
Steve Nash is still in the fold, but only has two years left in his contract and has shown the inability to stay healthy. Kobe Bryant, who enters the final year of his max contract may not be ready to start the season. Their backups were insufficient in filling the void when they missed time, as was made abundantly clear in the postseason. With Kobe likely to miss the early portion of the season and Steve Nash unlikely to stay healthy all season, Chris Paul could limit their minutes, extend their careers, and learn from the best point guard and shooting guard of the 2000s.
Awarding a max contract to either Dwight or Paul would cost the Lakers approximately $80 million in luxury tax. If the Lakers decide to spend the money on the contract and the outrageous taxes associated, they might as well add the superior player. The Lakers should make a play for Chris Paul before offering Dwight Howard the keys to the franchise.
Ryan Kantor is a contributor to Sports-Kings.com. He is a life-long Yankees fan and a proud Clemson alumnus, residing in North Carolina, where he works in marketing research. For more stories like this, you can visit his personal blog at RyanKantor.com and follow him on Twitter at @Ryan_Kantor.