COMMENTARY | As the Houston Rockets prepared their offseason version of a full-court press in pursuit of Dwight Howard, the Los Angeles Lakers were methodical in their own approach as free agency began at 12:01 ET on July 1, though they've made it clear that he is their No. 1 priority.
All bets are off when it comes to where Howard lands, although smart money says Houston looks like the frontrunner (and has been reported as such several times over, most notably by Yahoo! Sports expert Adrian Wojnarowski). Though the free agency period has barely arrived, there's already a lot to take away for Lakers fans after several hours of action:
Lesson 1: Shooting is the Lakers' top priority
It's not a surprise, but so far, the Lakers are looking at signing anyone who can knock down shots from the perimeter. In the system they plan to use under Mike D'Antoni, converting from beyond the arc is an important component. Carlos Delfino and Southern California native Chase Budinger are two early names who've surfaced as targets, but there will be many more.
Lesson 2: Jordan Farmar going back to LA is a real thing
Lakers fans remember Jordan Farmar -- he's the athletic reserve point guard that served as a key role player on the 2009 and 2010 championship squads. After signing with the New Jersey Nets, he effectively disappeared. Then, he literally disappeared from the NBA and went to play overseas in Turkey.
Now, the Los Angeles native and former UCLA star could be back in a Lakers uniform next season and bring much-needed athleticism to the perimeter.
Lesson 3: It took the Mavs just two hours to give up on the Dwight Howard sweepstakes
There's only room for one immature center per team, and apparently, the Dallas Mavericks have decided which one they want to pursue. After reports out of Big D indicated the Mavericks would give it their all to pursue Howard, former Lakers All-Star Andrew Bynum appears to be the big man they will seek in free agency.
The ironic thing is that it makes sense. Dallas can't compete with what Houston can offer in terms of a young nucleus and superstar power.
Lesson 4: Mitch Kupchak is a ninja
While you were watching the first episode of the final season of "Dexter," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak was meandering through the night and arranging a short, face-to-face meeting with Howard just to get the first word in before the Rockets made their pitch at a Los Angeles Hotel.
How a guy who's nearly seven feet tall can sneak around like that is beyond comprehension, but he did it, and Lakers fans hope it worked.
Lesson 5. Lakers fans found the Houston party
This is why Lakers fans who haven't yet embraced Twitter need to jump on board. Just before free agency began, fans on the social network were working hard to find out the venue where Howard and the Rockets were scheduled to meet. Then this happened.
It's a testament to the information age and how passionate Lakers fans are when it comes to their stake in the team.
Lesson 6: Motivated Lakers fans can move mountains
Speaking of passionate fans and social media, when those two things meet, it's usually a bit of fun. Early Monday morning, one fan poured out his heart to Dwight Howard via a series of glorious mentions on Twitter. So much so, that he ended up trending in both Los Angeles and Houston. Here's the best gem from that epic display of fandom:
"@DwightHoward Sorry if my fact-stating has inspired Rockets fans to tweet insults at you. Most just started watching basketball last week."
-- @DrewUnga via Twitter
Andrew Ungvari went from local Lakers guru to legendary fan in the span of 10 minutes. Powerful stuff.
Lesson 7: Nick Young may have a hilarious homecoming
The Lakers need a lot of help, so they're looking everywhere. That means that another LA native, conscious-less shooter Nick Young may end up in a Lakers uniform -- at the same time as Kobe Bryant no less.
Unless the NBA adopts a rule allowing the use of multiple basketballs at the same time on the floor, this dynamic could be a spectacle the likes of which've never been seen. If it does happen, it promises to be an all-new version of Showtime in LA for the wrong reasons and day-in-and-out hilarity.
Lesson 8: iPads are still apparently used to impress people
The Rockets did an elaborate presentation that included a contingent of general manager Daryl Morey, legends Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler and current players Chandler Parsons and James Harden. They pulled out all the stops and came on strong with their pitch, but that's not what's most impressive.
They used an iPad! Now, that's how you go after an NBA free agent. Power Point is so 2000.
All joking aside, the Rockets put together an outstanding presentation, and it'll make Howard's decision that much more difficult. But...
Lesson 9: The Lakers have something else up their sleeve
Magic Mitch knows how to play the free agency game. He was the assistant general manager when the Lakers orchestrated the signing of Shaquille O'Neal in 1996. He pulled off the amazing Pau Gasol trade in 2008, and now he has his greatest challenge ahead.
Though it's hard to imagine what it could possibly mean, the Lakers still reportedly have a trick or two planned in order to re-sign the future of their franchise.
Lesson 10: Phil Jackson could still be a game-changer
Though the head coaching ship has sailed when it comes to the Zen Master, Howard could be receptive to re-signing with the Lakers if Jackson has a defined role with the organization and could potentially mitigate some of the alleged disdain he has toward current head coach Mike D'Antoni.
Such a scenario would be the ultimate exercise in irony, though, as the Lakers have methodically cut all professional ties to Jackson since he last coached in 2011. He and Kupchak remain friendly, however, so the door is still open for some Zen magic.
Nevertheless, it will make for an interesting next several days.
For more on the Lakers and the NBA , catch up with this author on Twitter @MikeJonesTweets
Michael C. Jones covers the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA as a Southern California-based sports journalist and editor. He contributes to SB Nation in addition to Yahoo! Sports and is the Managing Editor and Founder of Sports Out West.
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- Los Angeles Lakers
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