Lakers, Howard Deal ‘Dead’, Dwight Unable to Live up to Legends?

The Los Angeles Lakers have been working hard to acquire Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic, and at first they were considered the frontrunners to land the All-Star center. However, it seems as though talks between the Lakers and Magic have ended and that the Brooklyn Nets will be the likely destination.

Ric Bucher of ESPN spoke on SportsCenter earlier today and he discussed the Lakers’ chances of landing Howard.

“As of right now that’s [Lakers getting Howard] dead, they can’t get him.”

Bucher said the major obstacle preventing the Lakers-Magic deal is that neither Howard nor Andrew Bynum are willing to sign long-term with either team. Howard has said previously that he will only sign an extension with the Nets, and Bynum has expressed a desire to become a free-agent.

In addition, Howard is dealing with back issues and the Lakers may not want to risk losing Bynum for an injured center who may stay for only one season. Bucher went on to say that Howard may not be able to play at the start of the season, so the Lakers should be cautious about a trade.

Still, the biggest roadblock in all of this is Howard’s reluctance to join the pantheon of great Lakers centers. The Los Angeles Lakers are the most historic franchise in the NBA and they have had generations filled with dominant big men. Howard understands the legacies he has to live up to if he becomes a Laker and it seems as though he does not want that pressure.

When a center of his stature goes to Los Angeles, everyone expects championships in return. If the Lakers win multiple championships in Howard’s tenure, he will be looked at as one of the best centers the Lakers have had. However, with Kobe Bryant coming to the end of his career, Howard sees that the may be able to produce several titles. If he does not live up to expectations, Howard will be ridiculed by for years to come.

“When you become the center of the Los Angeles Lakers,” Bucher added, “it’s a forgone conclusion, one championship might not be enough. You are supposed to win multiple championships.”

Making the second round of the playoffs in Brooklyn will make Howard the hero in New York, but that type of performance will never be accepted in Los Angeles. By joining the Nets, Howard will be the cornerstone to a “new” franchise and a new plan. There was never anything before him, meaning Howard can establish his own legacy. Whereas if he becomes a Laker, Howard will always have to live up to the great feats of Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal.

Howard has now completed eight NBA seasons and so far he has averaged 18.4 points and 13.0 rebounds per game. Still, Howard does not have a polished offensive game and most of his points are off his dunk and due to his athletic ability. Every great center had a go-to move in the post, and his biggest competition, Andrew Bynum, has already developed a solid low-post game.

As for the other great Los Angeles Lakers centers, O’Neal, Abdul-Jabbar and Chamberlain, their numbers in their first eight seasons are frankly better than Howard’s. O’Neal averaged 27.5 points and 12.4 rebounds, Abdul-Jabbar put up 29.5 points and 15.3 rebounds per game and Chamberlain averaged an amazing 37.6 points and 24.8 rebounds. In addition, all of these centers had already won one title by their eight season of play.

By the end of their time with the Los Angeles Lakers, O’Neal won three titles, Abdul-Jabbar claimed five and Chamberlain gained one. Howard sees these numbers and understands what is expected from his by the franchise. Being the franchise player for the Orlando Magic is nothing compared to being a center for this legendary team.

As for Andrew Bynum, the Lakers’ current center , he has won two NBA championships and has averaged 11.7 points and 7.8 rebounds. However, in 2011-12 Bynum put up 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds a game.

So think twice before jumping the ship on the Howard deal. The Lakers may be better off sticking with a center who understands the pressure of being the center of the Los Angeles Lakers. A player who knows he has to live up to the legacies of the other great big men, and as of this point, has done it. The Lakers ought to continue developing a 24-year-old center who already has more offensive moves than Howard does. Los Angeles should stick with Andrew Bynum and he may end up being the most dominate center in the NBA today.