Suitors or beggars?
With Dwight Howard’s pending free agency set to begin at midnight ET on July 1, the Los Angeles Lakers launched a campaign with the placement of a banner on the side of Staples Center, and a billboard on Hollywood Boulevard. The message on each is simple, “Stay #D12”.
The Lakers have made no qualms about their desire to re-sign Howard and perhaps the organization viewed this as another opportunity to once again publicly express their sentiment for him.
With the advancement of social media and players’ desires to be courted like kings (a la LeBron James), such a campaign isn’t all that surprising. However, for a team that has won 16 championships and has such a rich tradition, is this a necessary action? No.
Not when considering the player being wooed has zero championship rings, reportedly only wanted to be a traded to the Brooklyn Nets, and has shown signs of commitment issues. Plus, the Lakers are the only team who can offer Howard a five-year contract worth $118 million. All offers from other teams max out at four years and $87.6 million.
By no means are the Lakers a better team without Howard, but by the same token, they should not allow him to hold them at his mercy. If Howard has any issues in succeeding the legacies set by Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Shaquille O’Neal, then he should feel free to sign elsewhere.
It is a privilege to wear purple and gold, not a right. The fans demand dedication, excellence, and championships. It is what they have been afforded under the leadership of the Buss family.
Whether Howard has the desire and mental toughness necessary to succeed in Los Angeles remains to be seen. Regardless of the outcome, let’s hope for a speedy decision.
To no surprise, Metta World Peace exercised his player option for the 2013-2014 season and he is set to earn $7.7 million in the final year of his five-year contract. There had been some hope he would opt out and perhaps sign with the Lakers for less of an annual salary, but with more years. By opting-in, World Peace is a likely candidate to be amnestied. Should the amnesty provision be used on World Peace, the Lakers could save approximately $30 million in luxury taxes.
The Lakers have chosen to exercise the team option on Jodie Meeks next season. Despite having an up and down 2012-2013 season, Meeks minimal salary of $1.5 million is attractive given the tax-burdened state of the Lakers.
The Lakers also extended a qualifying offer to Robert Sacre, making him a restricted free agent.
While these aren’t the splashy, eye-catching moves Laker fans are excited to learn about, they are par for course until the Lakers are able to free themselves of restrictions placed on them due to being a repetitive tax-paying team.