The NBA season has had a number of surprises this year – few fans would have bet that the LA Lakers would fall out of playoff contention. But the end of the season could look entirely different after trade deadline day on February 21, when teams attempt to shore up their weaker points with new players. The trade deadline is rife with deals and money – along with sports bettors who hope to make both.
As the Lakers continue to struggle, NBA insiders expect the team to make a big move with one or several of their key players. Centre Dwight Howard is a player whose name has been thrown around the trade rumour mill who despite his injuries this season, is still considered one of the top centres in the entire league. Howard’s contract with the Lakers expires in the offseason, giving him unrestricted free agent status and the freedom to sign anywhere he chooses. The Lakers would be smart to acquire assets before his contract is up, and well-informed bettors should put money down that such a move will occur.
The gamble lies in the details of where Howard could end up. Before being traded to the Lakers this season, several teams were interested in the top centre. Howard had explicitly stated his interest in joining the Brooklyn Nets last year, and while the team hasn’t made the same push this time around they could still put Howard’s strengths to good use.
Also in contention are the Houston Rockets, who are prepared to work out a blockbuster deal that would get them Howard and also favourably benefit LA. The Dallas Mavericks are also interested in making the trade, but Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has suggested he would make Howard an impressive offer if the big centre goes into free agency this summer.
These teams must be willing to make a gamble of their own because there are no guarantees Howard won’t use his free agency to move on elsewhere in the summer. This means whichever team trades for the top centre could end up with nothing to show for it in a few short months.
The trade deadline is under a month away, but the rumours will continue to pour in – along with bets that the trade will be made.