One word: Wow.

I don’t think anyone envisioned the Lakers getting beat by the Mavericks, let alone getting the broom-job. The Lakers played some of the worst basketball I’ve ever seen them play in the last few years. They looked completely uninterested during the game, similar to the effort they put during the 2008 Finals against Boston.  Kobe wasn’t Kobe. The team didn’t play with confidence or grit. The Lakers played one of the classless fourth quarters of basketball that I’ve ever seen. There’s no excuse for actions by Andrew Bynum or Lamar Odom and both players may be dealt this off-season. It’s clear that the Lakers will make some changes and one big center in Orlando will likely be atop their wish list. The Knicks have some vested interest in Mr. Howard, but ultimately how does this Laker season affect the Knicks chances?

It's Been Real, Mark.

 

Let’s go back to 1996. A certain Orlando Magic center named Shaquille O’Neal left Disney World for the cushy digs of Hollywood. O’Neal came to the Lakers as a free agent and helped the team win three NBA Championships. Shaq’s move West sent the Magic spiraling backwards and set the Lakers up for their historic run. With Dwight Howard’s contract set to expire after next season, the Magic do not want to be set back again. Howard currently has a two-year extension on the table, but has shied away from signing it. After losing the NBA Finals to the Lakers in 2009, Howard knew that his Magic team peaked and he would need to ultimately leave Florida in search of his first title, just like O’Neal did.

The Lakers have the trade pieces to entice the Magic. Anyone not named Kobe Bryant is fair game and the option of adding two dynamic players will definitely interest the Magic. Would Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol be enough to pull Howard away? We’ll see, but the Magic do not want Howard to pull a LeBron on them. Expect to see Howard moved before the end of next season.

How does this impact the Knicks? The Knicks simply do not have the pieces to interest Orlando. Removing Howard from the Eastern Conference will be a boost for the Knicks, but expecting him to play 41 games per year on Broadway isn’t going to happen.