After being ejected and seeing the Lakers swept out of the first round, Dwight Howard called this season a "nightmare," an interesting choice of words given the "Dwightmare" label applied to last year's constant Howard trade rumors. Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times proposes one way to end the nightmare, suggesting that the Lakers don't re-sign Howard this summer when he hits free agency. It certainly figures to be an interesting summer in L.A., given Howard's free agency, Kobe Bryant's recovering Achilles, and Pau Gasol's expiring contract. Here's an early look at the next steps for the team:
- Howard told reporters, including Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports, that he expects to "step away from everything for a couple of weeks" to clear his head before he seriously considers his free agency. One source tells Spears that, given the uncertainty in Lakerland, Howard is expected to do his due dilegence when it comes to free agent options.
- Spears' source on Howard: "He's going to sign a long-term deal. It has to be the right spot, the right commitment. There is no clear choice. The Lakers choice has longevity. They've won a lot of championships. But at the same time, that's not where they're at any more."
- Earl Clark tells Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News (Twitter link) that he'd like to re-sign with the Lakers, even if the team can't offer the same amount of years or dollars as other teams.
- Gasol doesn't believe his future with the Lakers necessarily hinges on what happens with Howard, as he tells Medina.
- Gasol deserves to be able to play out the final season of his contract with the Lakers without constant trade rumors swirling around him, suggests J.A. Adande of ESPN.com. However, as Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times writes, it's also possible Gasol has played his last game with the club.
- Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times examines the Lakers' payroll options, including potential amnesty candidates.