After the Lakers watched Dwight Howard leave Los Angeles to take his talents to Houston, Lakers great center Shaquille O’Neal chimed in and said Howard was not cut out to succeed in Los Angeles. Now, another Laker Hall of Fame center wanted to get into the conversation.
Laker great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar posted this message on his Facebook page on Monday:
Dwight Howard is a perfect example of the fact that “potential has a shelf life.” Laker fans should be patient and allow Mitch & company to prepare themselves to do some serious work in the free agent market.
Obviously, there are many Laker greats who were shocked by Howard’s decision to leave the great city that they all grew to love, but he did and it has caused them to speak publicly about it. Kareem’s comments were a little bit more reserved compared to Shaq’s, but he still expressed a little disappointment toward Howard. Kareem’s approach might be a little more effective than Shaq’s, but both got their points across.
Kareem is referencing the summer of 2014, when all of the Lakers’ contracts except for Steve Nash’s come off the books. That includes Kobe Bryant’s $30.4 million and Pau Gasol’s $19.3 million. On Monday, it was reported that the Lakers will exercise their amnesty provision on Metta World Peace. Therefore, his $7.7 million will be off the books as well. The stacked free agent market of 2014 could include plenty of top talent, including LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony and Danny Granger to name a few.
Being in the second biggest media market in the NBA and the history and prestige of the Lakers organization are usually the major selling points needed to sign players. But they may not be able to do as much damage as people think.
Unless he is planning on retiring after the season, which he has said that he will not be, Bryant will have to be re-signed. While he will not be making $30 million on his next contract, it would be unlike him to take too drastic of a pay cut to allow one or two other superstars to make maximum level money.
If Bryant is planning on being around for a couple more years, the Lakers will have to convince players like LeBron and Melo, who are still in their primes, to play the next couple of seasons as sidekicks. Regardless of current talent level, Kobe Bryant is not going to take a back seat to one of those players in the final years of his career on the team he has defined for the past 17 years; it is not in his DNA.
Regardless of the hole that Dwight Howard left the Lakers in for the upcoming season, the Lakers will rebound and have a fantastic offseason in 2014. They have all the cap space in the world to make whatever moves they feel are necessary. Have faith in Mitch Kupchack to get the job done as he always has.
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