Tuck: Dwight Howard Likes Lakers

If Dwight Howard is willing to commit to the Lakers long-term on a deal after this season, it could mean the pace to negotiations could pick up with the Orlando Magic.

Jarrod Rudolph (@JRudolphSports) reported that sources say Dwight Howard is ready to join Lakers.  He joined David Baumann on ESPN 1080 this morning and said if traded to Los Angeles Howard will re-sign long-term with team after 2012-13 season.

I wrote a week ago that the Lakers were the most likely destination for Dwight Howard.  The reason is that they can give a player in Andrew Bynum that would and could help push a 3-team deal through.  Teams might be leery of giving up too much for Dwight Howard in a rental, but getting Andrew Bynum would be an upgrade for any team at center, and a safer choice perhaps as it comes to keeping him long-term.

Now that Lakers know that Howard is willing to stay, their interest level in acquiring Howard as an upgrade to Bynum becomes more focused and less risk-oriented.  The Magic’s reluctance to take Bynum in a swap stems from both concerns over Bynum’s health and commitment, and the inability to rid themselves of the contracts that would slow Orlando from rebuilding in free agency.

Cleveland and Houston are both solid candidates to make a deal work because both have interest in Bynum, and sources say it is mutual for Bynum.  It would be worth it for either to inherit a Turkoglu contract if it means getting a legit all-star center.

Orlando’s desires remain the same, unload bad contracts and bring back rookies/second year players and draft picks.  Working with just Los Angeles doesn’t allow them to do that, but bringing in a third team interested in Bynum will.

A deal may now depend less on the Lakers, and more on who will be willing to give and take more back among Houston, Cleveland, and perhaps another team.  But with LA getting a Dwight commitment, their interest in accomplishing a deal shoots up.  This should help Orlando in negotiations.