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Dwight Howard trade: Lakers hit grand slam with this deal

COMMENTARY — Go ahead and mark it down, with a Sharpie: The trade for Dwight Howard means the Lakers will make it back to the Finals in 2013. And they will win it.
BY BEN BOLCH, Los Angeles Times, Published: August 10, 2012

Even though he is only two years older than the player he's replacing, Howard, 26, has a gargantuan edge in career scoring (18.4 points per game versus Bynum's 11.7) and won't be prone to taking ill-advised three-pointers or saying dumb things about close-out games being easy.

Combine Howard with an aging-but-still-prolific Kobe Bryant and a rejuvenated Nash, and what's not to like?

Oh, and here's the kicker: The Lakers managed to obtain Howard while hanging on to power forward Pau Gasol, whose heady play and deft passing touch from the high post should mesh perfectly with Nash's pick-and-roll game and Howard's formidable low-post moves.

For those who worry about Howard bolting L.A. faster than a farm girl from Iowa whose Hollywood dreams are quickly dashed, consider the realities of his contract situation: The most lucrative deal for Howard will be for him to re-sign with the Lakers after next season.

In that scenario, according to independent salary-cap expert Larry Coon, Howard could sign a maximum five-year deal worth $116.8 million that includes annual raises of 7.5 percent. If Howard departed for another team, he could sign for only four years and $86.7 million, receiving 4.5 percent raises each year.

“We were fully confident if we ever made a move to get Dwight Howard that he would re-sign with us,” Buss, the Lakers' executive vice president of player personnel, told NBA TV last month.

Buss and Kupchak made the move.

And now they're circling the bases, once again.

Sound off: How will Dwight Howard in LA impact OKC?