There wasn’t much to laugh about for the Los Angeles Lakers last season and after losing Dwight Howard to the Houston Rockets, that’s sort of true today. Then, you know, there’s the whole Kobe Bryant still being injured thing. Reasons to smile aren’t exactly banging Los Angeles’ door down.
Still, Magic Mike is able to help us crack a smirk and maybe a faint giggle. Even when he’s addressing pressing issues at hand.
Asked about how the Lakers plan to move on without Superman, D’Antoni responded using only one word, according to Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding: Who?
Classic, Mike. Well, maybe not. I don’t know D’Antoni well enough to say he plays the “who” card in hopes of mocking the topic at hand. But his response was a classic attempt at deflection, and I loved it.
Moving on from Howard is a real issue for these Lakers. Declaring this season a lost year or an underwhelming precursor to next summer and the bevy of free agents that await doesn’t change Los Angeles’ previous plans.
The Lakers wanted to re-sign Dwight Howard. Badly. They pulled out all the stops—billboards, phone calls and photoshopped murals. They had a plan before the plan they had now. They were going contend while waiting for 2014; they were going to build a winner around Howard, Kobe and potentially LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony or someone else for years to come. Escaping those dreams of grandeur isn’t easy. And the Lakers haven’t done it yet.
Put it this way: If the Lakers are ready to admit this season is a lost season (they’re not), that only prolongs the verdict process. Once 2014 rolls around, Howard’s presence, his departure will still linger.
Los Angeles could strike it rich next summer. Kobe and Pau Gasol could do what they’ve maintained they won’t, and accept a pay cut. A pay cut so steep that the Lakers could go out and afford another star free agent. Or maybe even two. That’s the goal, really. Without getting into all the numbers—which, by the way, aren’t as great as some believe them to be—that’s the ultimate goal. The Lakers want to come out of free agency in 2014 not just a better team, but a dominant superteam.
Should they succeed, all’s well that ends well. Dwight left, but the Lakers got their superteam anyway. If they fail, if they cannot reel in one or two of the big names or assemble a bona fide contender in some other way, Howard’s decision to leave comes back to bite them in the ass.
Not to say his retention would have guaranteed a title. It most definitely didn’t. But not everyone will see it in that way. Howard will become the one that got away. He would have given the Lakers a better chance at winning this season and luring in another star next summer. Hypothetically.
That’s what all this is–theoretical conjecture. Speculation the Lakers would like to move on from. One win, one free-agency coup and one Magic Mike joke at a time.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.