Skip to content

Now that Dwight Howard is headed to Houston, what’s next for the Lakers?

Jul 5, 2013, 8:34 PM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Bryant and point guard Nash of Canada after shaking hands after beating the Charlotte Bobcats during an NBA basketball game in Charlotte Reuters

Dwight Howard has made his free agent decision, and all indications are that he’s leaving Los Angeles in order to get a fresh start in Houston with the Rockets.

There are plenty of topics for discussion surrounding this, obviously, including whether or not Howard made the right choice, what his real reasons for leaving were, and what the Rockets’ roster may ultimately look like when all is said and done from a personnel standpoint.

But let’s look at the most intriguing non-Rockets angle of the story that’s out there: What’s next for the Lakers?

In terms of next season, the answer is not much.

The new collective bargaining agreement has stronger, more prohibitive luxury tax penalties for exceeding the league’s salary cap, which is expected to be just over $58 million next season.

Even with Howard gone, the Lakers have over $70 million in salary committed for 2013-14, and will still have some roster spots that will need to be filled, likely with minimum salary players.

Kobe Bryant is on the books for $30 million, Pau Gasol for over $19 million, Steve Nash for over $9 million, and Metta World Peace for over $7.7 million. The Lakers still have the amnesty option to consider, which would allow them to wipe a player from the roster and his contract from the available money the team would have to spend under the salary cap.

It’s definitely a possibility with either World Peace or Gasol, but the most likely scenario could see the Lakers standing pat for a season, and playing it out with the talent already in place.

The reason that would make sense is due to what the cap picture for the Lakers looks like the following season, when as of right now they only have $9.7 million committed to Nash — and that’s it.

A Lakers franchise that is in the business of putting itself in position to contend for titles season after season would be able to build around several free agents in 2014, and immediately return to relevance. Even if they don’t land the biggest names available, which happen to include LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, they can create a team full of second-tier guys that can provide an immediate influx of youth and talent to accompany Bryant in his final couple of NBA seasons, while putting a solid foundation in place for the future at the same time.

One other thing L.A. may look at is beginning this process sooner rather than later.

We already saw the Celtics make that decision by sending Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets, and if the Lakers feel like this upcoming season will be a complete lost cause — which may depend heavily on how much time Bryant misses recovering from his Achilles injury, and just how effective he’ll be once he returns — then they may look to move the expiring contracts of Gasol and/or World Peace if they can get young assets in return, or even a high lottery pick in the 2014 draft which is top heavy with elite-level talent.

Whatever the Lakers’ course of action, it won’t involve retooling immediately by chasing one of the relevant free agents still left on the market. There’s no way to do that anywhere remotely responsibly financially, so the team will in all likelihood play out next year with the roster as currently constructed, with an eye on truly rebuilding to contend for a championship when the cap space is available the following season.

Latest Posts
  1. Blake Griffin among actors for dramatic reading of “Space Jam” (VIDEO)

    Apr 18, 2014, 12:56 AM EDT

    Monstars space jam

    This is exactly what you’ve been waiting for — a dramatic reading of Space Jam including Blake Griffin and D’Andre Jordan.

  2. Son tweets Craig Sager has acute leukemia

    Apr 17, 2014, 11:18 PM EDT

    Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat - Game Five Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat - Game Five

    We may not see him on the sidelines of TNT games these playoffs.

  3. Report: Joel Anthony opting in with Celtics

    Apr 17, 2014, 9:38 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Boston Celtics Getty Images

    Center has $3.8 million player option

  4. Likely top-10 pick Dante Exum signs with adidas

    Apr 17, 2014, 7:05 PM EDT

    Essendon Bombers Media Opportunity Getty Images

    Adidas rolls the dice on a young guard with potential. Not a bad business plan.

  5. Kentucky’s James Young, Duke’s Rodney Hood declare for NBA draft

    Apr 17, 2014, 5:57 PM EDT

    NCAA Men's Final Four - Championship Getty Images

    Both are likely first round picks in the teens or early 20s.

  6. The Al Jefferson Effect: Now that the Bobcats are playoff-bound, how they want their big man to help next

    Apr 17, 2014, 4:53 PM EDT

    Steve Clifford, Cody Zeller, Al Jefferson Steve Clifford, Cody Zeller, Al Jefferson

    What affect will Jefferson have on the development of Kemba Walker, Bismack Biyombo, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Cody Zeller?

  7. Toronto puts together fantastic playoffs preview video

    Apr 17, 2014, 4:50 PM EDT

    Timberwolves Raptors Basketball AP

    Raptors fans are pumped for the playoffs.

  8. Carmelo Anthony: “I want to come back…I also want to win.”

    Apr 17, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT

    Carmelo Anthony AP

    It really comes down to this: Does he trust Phil Jackson and Knicks management to build a winner quickly?

  9. LeBron James, Heat top NBA jersey sales again

    Apr 17, 2014, 2:40 PM EDT

    Brooklyn Nets v Miami Heat Getty Images

    You put your money where your heart is, and your heart clearly follows LeBron James and the Heat.

  10. The incredible thing about Larry Drew

    Apr 17, 2014, 2:11 PM EDT

    Larry Drew Larry Drew

    Bucks didn’t win back-to-back games all season

  11. Kobe tells Lakers’ fans to “flush” last season, has been cleared to run, shoot, prepare for next season

    Apr 17, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT

    Toronto Raptors v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Kobe may be in France but he still had time to tweet Lakers fans and tell them things will be better next season.

  12. Duke’s Jabari Parker says he will enter NBA Draft

    Apr 17, 2014, 12:55 PM EDT

    Duke v Mercer Getty Images

    He is as high on some boards as No. 1, but likely goes No. 3. However no freshman near the top of this board will have a bigger immediate impact in the NBA — his offensive game is NBA ready.

  13. Report: Rick Adelman will not return as Timberwolves coach

    Apr 17, 2014, 12:10 PM EDT

    Rick Adelman Rick Adelman

    This both has been expected and is mutual, according to the buzz around the league.

  14. Report: Grant Hill not interested in becoming Pistons’ general manager

    Apr 17, 2014, 11:20 AM EDT

    BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2014 Getty Images

    Hill previously reported to be a candidate for a job

Featured video

Handing out NBA's postseason awards
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Williams (3756)
  2. D. Wade (3717)
  3. K. Love (3710)
  4. L. James (3688)
  5. S. Curry (3502)
  1. C. Anthony (3265)
  2. R. Rondo (3120)
  3. G. Dragic (3018)
  4. R. Westbrook (2994)
  5. K. Durant (2860)