So it seems the Lakers have done it again, managing to acquire another once-in-a-generation talent right when their window was about to close.
Los Angeles has a long history of being able to get great players to come to their team, but with Dwight Howard it is slightly different for one reason. He is essentially a rental for the season until his contract expires and free agency hits.
Unless the Lakers want to lose Dwight, they have to lock him up with an extension soon.
There are a few things that Los Angeles should be worried about when it comes to Dwight re-signing. First, he seems to have a problem with being remembered as just another great Laker center. Instead, Howard wants to have his own legacy.
The issue with that is there is no way he will carve out his own legacy in Los Angeles, and Dwight knows it. He has to know that by following Shaquille O’Neal’s footsteps in moving from Orlando to Los Angeles, he will always be linked to Shaq.
Even in the introductory press conference, Howard made a point to say that he won’t try to compete with the legacies of old Lakers, instead bringing his own style to Los Angeles. It’s impossible to do that, however, and Howard must know it. He is already being compared to the Lakers' great history of big men, which includes George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaq.
Something less important which still must be considered is that Howard just joined an old team. He has to be looking around and noticing that this team really has a two year window for a championship, especially since Bryant has hinted at retirement after that.
There is no reason Dwight wouldn’t try to win a championship this season, then bolt to another team like Dallas where he can make his own legacy. Nobody would fault him, since he didn’t choose where he was traded and made no promises about re-signing if he was moved to the Lakers.
That is why the Lakers need to try everything they can to re-sign Dwight Howard to an extension now. They need to convince him that their window for winning a championship will be open for the next several years and that he should sign up now to be a part of it.
It is important that Los Angeles starts pushing Dwight for the extension soon for two reasons. First, the excitement of Howard with the Lakers has not yet settled and it may be a good time to push him into a decision made with pure excitement. If they wait till after the season and during free agency, then different opinions may get into his head about whether the Lakers are best for him and his legacy.
Secondly, Howard is coming off of a pretty serious back surgery. It seems possible that the Lakers could convince Dwight that they are taking a risk by re-signing him and that his surgery could make his value go down after next season.
It is essential for the Lakers to re-sign Dwight Howard before free agency hits, or else they risk losing him due to his obsession with his personal legacy. With Howard, Los Angeles is one of the best teams in the country. Without him, combined with the retirement of Kobe looming, the Lakers are in big trouble.