February 13, 2011; Orlando FL, USA; Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard (12) reacts as Los Angeles Lakers power forward Pau Gasol (16) looks on during the second half at Amway Center. The Magic won 89-75. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

NBA Trades and Free Agency: Lakers request meeting with Dwight Howard

Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

The Los Angeles Lakers are looking to meet with Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic to work on a trade for the All-Star center, according to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports.

The Lakers would like to receive a commitment from Howard that he will extend with the team beyond next season if they trade for him. Howard said previously that the only team he would extend with was the Brooklyn Nets.

There have been plenty of rumors involving Howard being traded to the Lakers. Most likely a third team would have to be involved for Orlando to get the best deal back from Howard involving either young prospects or a bunch of future draft picks.

The only team not interested in hearing Howard commit beyond next season with them is the Houston Rockets who are still “all-in” in attempting to acquire Howard. GM Daryl Morey has set up his roster with a slew of young assets and picks to throw Orlando’s way and they currently look like the team with the most to offer the Magic.

Howard sent direct messages on Twitter this week indicating that Orlando has not been totally up front about his health. Howard missed the end of last season and had back surgery and basically said he could barely walk in the direct messages.

There is a chance Howard would not be healthy to play by the start of next season and there is even a rumor out there (although unlikely) that Howard would choose to sit out the entire 2012-13 season if he remained with the Magic.

The team hoping for Howard to stay put until next summer is the Dallas Mavericks. Dallas tried to clear up cap to attract Deron Williams this summer but that did not work out and now they will do the same for Howard next summer.

Meanwhile Dallas looked as if it would end up with a very depleted roster losing Jason Terry and Jason Kidd but a couple of recent signings have salvaged a decent roster for them. Unrestricted free agent O.J. Mayo announced on Twitter that he will be signing with the Mavericks this season. Earlier in the week, Dallas grabbed Chris Kaman, Elton Brand and stole Darren Collison from Indiana.

The 2011 NBA champions are a far different team now and with an aging Dirk Nowitzki will not be back competing for a title any time soon unless they are able to sign a player like Howard.

Dallas beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in conference finals in 2011 and then got swept by them this past season in the first round.

With all of the recent movement around the league and the Western Conference in particular, OKC will still be considered the heavy favorite to make it to the NBA Finals again. Their biggest competition perhaps will be the Lakers since they have acquired Steve Nash, although the Thunder beat L.A. in five games in the second round this past postseason.

The other L.A. team, the Clippers are also up and coming in the West and have made a few nice moves to improve their roster starting with extending Blake Griffin for the next five years. Griffin suffered a knee injury during the Team USA training however and will have surgery Monday.

The Clippers have also signed Jamal Crawford and re-signed Chauncey Billups. They have also reportedly agreed to a 2-year deal with Grant Hill who was also considering the Lakers, Heat and Knicks. The Clippers were missing out on wing players on their roster this past season but adding Hill and Crawford will help them in that department.

The West has certainly gotten stronger from last season and we haven’t even mentioned the San Antonio Spurs who will have the same roster next season.

The Thunder don’t have to make moves to improve though. The experience they gained making it to the NBA Finals was enough.

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Tags: Dallas Mavericks Dwight Howard Grant Hill Los Angeles Clippers Los Angeles Lakers NBA Free Agency O.J. Mayo Oklahoma City Thunder Orlando Magic Steve Nash

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