How unlikely is a Dwight Howard/Chris Paul Lakers future? Very unlikely

Grantland’s Bill Simmons has been putting out a plausible theory that could turn inevitably moribund 2013-2014 Los Angeles Lakers season into a renaissance year for the league’s most blessed franchise. From the Sports Guy’s article a couple weeks ago:

Don’t rule out Chris Paul becoming a Laker next year. Here’s how they could pull it off: If they amnestied Kobe Bryant, then traded Pau Gasol to Houston for a dirt-cheap salary (say, Donatas Motiejunas), they’d suddenly be lopping close to $49 million off next year’s cap, leaving them with commitments to Metta World Peace, Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Chris Duhon, Jordan Hill, and Gasol’s cheap replacement for less than $30 million. That’s more than enough to sign Chris Paul and re-sign Dwight Howard if they took a little less … which they might, since it’s the Lakers and all.

To clarify, LA is very much over the $58 million dollar salary cap threshold–around $40 million over it. The 2013-2014 roster amounts to roughly $78 million in commitments, which doesn’t count a figure for Dwight Howard if he were to re-sign. Pulling off Simmons’ theoretical scenario would involve clearing the cap room and then signing Chris Paul to a 4-year, $79 million dollar deal (the most he’s eligible for a team that’s not the Clippers) and Dwight to a 5-year, $118 million dollar deal. No easy feat.
(For the uninitiated, the amnesty clause is a one-time provision every team has in order to waive one player and thus clearing his salary from their salary cap number. The player cut will still receive his payment in full, but the team will not have to pay any luxury tax on the contract, if they are indeed over the cap limit. Also, the team that waives the player cannot re-sign him for the entire duration of the original contract. For this case specifically, if the Lakers were to amnesty Kobe Bryant, they would not be able to re-sign at any point during the 2013-2014 season)
As insanely cold-hearted as it may be, the Sports Guy might not be crazy. LA could completely rebuild in just one season, launching themselves back into championship contention after a mere three years in title-purgatory. Make no mistake: a Chris Paul/Dwight Howard core would, health permitting, be more than a match for the Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors and perhaps Finals-bound Memphis Grizzlies. If it were to happen, that is.
Beyond all the complexities of essentially cutting Kobe Bryant (and don’t be naïve: if Kobe Bryant were to get cut via the amnesty provision by the Lakers, do you think for one second that a disgruntled and disrespected Mamba would ever come back to the purple & gold, even after he was allowed to? He’s still upset at the Phoenix Suns for beating a Kwame Brown and Smush Parker-led team 8 years ago. He would never get over this), there are too many technical difficulties to get this coup to happen. Let’s go to the tape:
1) The clock is against them. The Lakers can ONLY use the amnesty provision between July 10th and July 17th 2013
If the Lakers are going to make such a franchise altering decision, they’ll need to do it all in a two-week period.
Every NBA team can talk to free agents starting on midnight on July 1st. Though teams cannot officially sign players, they can “agree to terms” before pen is put to paper. This is in no way legally binding, meaning that the player is not compelled under contract law to sign with the team, but 9 times out of 10 will end up inking a contract. On the 10th, teams can officially sign free agents.
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