The latest move, which has ended an impasse that had the basketball world in a state of flux since the final NBA buzzer sounded in June, is the end of a painful waiting game for all involved parties. In the end, it was the Lakers who won the sweepstakes for Howard's services.
Even though it's exciting for fans, long-time followers of the storied franchise know that the Lakers always seem to find a way to get what they want. It's that winning culture that attracts potential trade targets and free agents.
In this instance, the Lakers have outdone even themselves. Howard was by far the most prominent figure the team pursued during the offseason. But it was a series of lesser moves -- if they could dare be called such -- that made the offseason a true success. First, the signing of Steve Nash took the entire league by surprise, including Lakers' general manager Mitch Kupchak and the two-time league MVP himself.
To follow that up, the team smartly re-signed key reserve Jordan Hill and then brought in Antawn Jamison. The roster needed some key additions despite having very little resources, and the front office responded accordingly. More importantly, they took action and brought in players who could fill niche roles such as bench scoring, where the Lakers were last in the league in 2011-2012, as well as youth and athleticism.
Prior to the agreed-upon trade that will cost the Lakers Andrew Bynum and a first-round pick, the team had filled much of that void. Nash is a master facilitator who can make players around him better. Jamison is still a capable scorer that will single-handedly improve the struggling bench.
The Howard trade puts the finishing touches on this masterful series of moves. While there are reservations such as the former No. 1 overall pick's recent back injury, poor free throw shooting, and maturity, there's no denying he's an upgrade at the center position.
What makes the deal even better for Los Angeles is that the team kept skilled big man Gasol.
No one is going to hand the Lakers a title, and the road to banner No. 17 still won't be easy. But the Lakers can now legitimately contend for a title due to the outstanding acquisitions of the summer of 2012.
Michael C. Jones is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor in Sports and covers the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA. He is the Editor of SportsOutWest.com and has written for Southern California's Press-Enterprise and Examiner.com. For more insight, you can follow him on Twitter.
- Sports & Recreation
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Dwight Howard