Let’s just get this one out of the way. There have been different media members from around the sports world suggesting that the Lakers would be wise to release Kobe via the amnesty clause in order to save about $90 million in luxury taxes. Aiding their case is the fact that even Kobe admitted he probably won’t be back in action until November or December. In spite of all that, there is no way Kobe isn’t in a Laker jersey come next year. The Lakers have never made decisions based on money, and even with the new CBA’s harsh luxury tax penalties, don’t expect them to start anytime soon. The Lakers brain trust knows that Kobe means too much to their franchise and their city to let him go. Kobe has etched his name in Lakers’ lore among their all-time greats, and a strong argument could be made for him as the greatest player in Lakers’ history. The bottom line is as long as Kobe is in the NBA, he will be wearing the purple and gold.
Chances Kobe Returns: 100%
Dwight Howard apparently isn’t too thrilled about the idea of playing in Mike D’Antoni‘s system. Who would have thought? ESPN’s Chris Broussard is reporting that the likelihood of Howard staying in LA with the Lakers is dwindling, due mostly to Mike D’Antoni and his style of play. Broussard also reports that Howard sees the Mavericks, Rockets, and Clippers as viable options. The Mavericks and Rockets both have the cap room necessary to sign Dwight Howard to an almost max contract. However, they are both trying to shed enough salary to offer him a max deal. The Clippers, on the other hand, do not have any cap room available to them. The only way they could acquire Dwight Howard is via sign-and-trade. While they would be able to put together a fairly enticing package of Eric Bledsoe and Blake Griffin, the chances the Lakers agree to send Dwight Howard to their cross-hall rivals is slim-to-none. The Hawks are also in play for Dwight’s service, although he is reportedly lukewarm to the idea of playing in his hometown city of Atlanta.
So really, it’s a three horse race between the Lakers, Rockets, and Mavs. Right now, the Lakers’ best bet at keeping Dwight Howard is to fire D’Antoni and hire a coach that better fits his style of play (not to mention, the Lakers’ style of play) as that seems to be the biggest obstacle scaring Dwight away from re-signing with them.
Still, Dwight’s past indicates that he can have a change of heart at any moment, and for that reason, I still give the Lakers a slight chance at keeping him even if D’Antoni remains their head coach.
Chances Howard Returns if D’Antoni Returns: 15%
Chances Howard Returns if D’Antoni Leaves: 85%
(So for the love of God Jim Buss; please, please… fire D’Antoni!)