If Dwight Howard leaves the Lakers this summer, the Lakers won't help pave his way to a new destination with a sign-and-trade deal, sources tell Mark Heisler of CBS Los Angeles. Barring a great deal that they don’t expect to be offered, insiders say the club’s fallback position would be to bring back this team and bank the savings.
Even though they wouldn't salvage something for their star center, they would save roughly $50MM in salary and luxury tax. That would put them under the luxury tax threshold after next season, which has been a Laker priority for some time but is even more important given the stiff penalties of the new CBA. Those savings would give the Lakers $55MM worth of cap space for the 2014 free agent class, which could include LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.
The Lakers acquired Howard knowing they would have to pay him an average of ~$23.6MM per season, because of his unique value. If they lose him, the Lakers would only pay that much for someone else they think has unique value, Heisler writes.