After pitches, pondering and a bizarre almost-turn of events on Friday evening, it now seems a done deal: Star center Dwight Howard is leaving the Los Angeles Lakers for the Houston Rockets. Clearly, this puts Houston in a good position for 2013-14 and beyond. But what about the team Howard leaves behind? Just a year ago, things seemed so promising.
A lost season?
The Lakers won only 45 games last season despite 17.1 PPG and 12.4 RPG from Dwight Howard. And it's still uncertain when Kobe Bryant will return.
Hello, old friend?
Andrew Bynum's 2011-12 numbers were equally impressive with 18.7 PPG and 11.8 RPG. But a lost season in Philadelphia doesn't instill confidence.
A championship just isn't happening this season, so should the Lakers start over and prepare early for next year's loaded draft and free-agency period?
The blame game
Things looked bright a year ago. Then Mike Brown was fired. Then Mike D'Antoni got hired. Then Kobe Bryant got hurt. Then Dwight Howard left.
A new kind of rivalry
Perhaps the Lakers can take some comfort in knowing the archrival Celtics are also in for a long season without Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
Change of heart?
Bryant recently said the Spurs getting close to winning their fifth title hurt him a little. Bryant likely won't be creating any space this year.