HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — The dust is settling and rosters emerging after the biggest free-agent move of the summer came down one week ago. Dwight Howard has positioned the Houston Rockets as Western Conference contenders while creating altered realities for the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks.
Because of their high-priced payroll, the Lakers have limited flexibility to strengthen their roster for the 2013-14 season. To lessen some of its financial burden, L.A. made it official on Thursday that it will use the amnesty provision to cut loose Metta World Peace, a move that Kobe Bryant made clear he’s not thrilled with on Twitter:
Had Howard remained with the Lakers, Pau Gasol might have been on the wrong end of the amnesty, but now he’ll be the Lakers starting center. L.A. has added Nick Young, Chris Kaman and Jordan Farmar to a roster that certainly has talent, but isn’t even expected to make the playoffs by some.
The Mavs will scale a considerable mountain to not be lottery-bound in consecutive seasons. Dallas missed out on Deron Williams a year ago and watched Dwight pick their division rivals this time around. To make Mavs fans feel even worse, Andre Iguodala told the San Francisco Chronicle that he almost signed with Dallas an hour before committing to the Golden State Warriors. Dallas met with Andrew Bynum, but passed on making an offer.
Dallas was extremely high on Iguodala as an anchor for the future with Dirk Nowitzki in the case that Howard said no. The Mavs are in difficult spot now with a hodgepodge, guard-heavy roster that bears almost no resemblance to last season’s team that failed to make the playoffs for the first time in 13 years. It includes newcomers Jose Calderon, Devin Harris, Wayne Ellington and a couple of rookies in Shane Larkin and Israeli free-agent Gal Mekel.
At least Nowitzki kept a sense of humor after missing out on the prime DH target and signing another one:
We worked all summer to get DH to Dallas. Welcome back to the Mavs, Devin Harris….—
Dirk Nowitzki (@swish41) July 09, 2013
Meanwhile in Houston, with Howard joining All-Star guard James Harden and emerging sharpshooter Chandler Parsons, the front office went to work to add more shooters around their new center, bringing back Francisco Garcia and agreeing to a deal with Reggie Williams.
Here’s how the Rockets, Lakers and Mavericks have filled out their rosters and who else each might be looking at:
HOUSTON ROCKETS (14)
PG: Jeremy Lin, Patrick Beverley, Isaiah Canaan
SG: James Harden, Francisco Garcia, Reggie Williams, James Anderson
SF: Chandler Parsons, Omri Casspi
PF: Greg Smith, Terrance Jones
C: Dwight Howard, Omer Asik, Donatas Motiejunas
Possibilities: Trade Lin and/or Asik
LOS ANGELES LAKERS (12)
PG: Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar
SG: Kobe Bryant, Jodie Meeks
SF: Nick Young, Chris Douglas-Roberts
PF: Jordan Hill, Ryan Kelly
C: Pau Gasol, Chris Kaman, Robert Sacre
Possibles: Lamar Odom, Sasha Vujacic
DALLAS MAVERICKS (11)
PG: Jose Calderon, Gal Mekel, Shane Larkin
SG: Devin Harris, Vince Carter, Wayne Ellington, Ricky Ledo
SF: Shawn Marion, Jae Crowder
PF: Dirk Nowitzki
C: Bernard James
Possibles: C Samuel Dalembert; C Greg Oden; C/F Brandan Wright; F/C Elton Brand