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Los Angeles Lakers 2013 Draft Preview

By Jim Brighters, NBA Editor

(Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Lakers will have to wait on Dwight Howard to truly formulate an offseason plan.

The prize free agent is reportedly testing the waters with interest by, most notably, the Houston Rockets.

The Lakers can offer the most money and the longest deal, but does Howard really want to return to what was not a positive experience this past year? The Lakers struggled all season and he butted heads with superstar Kobe Bryant.

If Howard comes back, he will be the future of the franchise. Bryant will be 35 next season and coming off of Achilles tendon surgery. Steve Nash is even older and Pau Gasol also underwent surgery this offseason.

Most of Los Angeles' young talent is green and will need a lot of work. And, most of those players - Earl Clark, Darius Morris, Andrew Goudelock and Robert Sacre - are free agents in some form. Decisions will have to be made whether to bring them back.

If Howard is not back in L.A., the Lakers will have to formulate some other plan. None is obvious and the Lakers won't have much money, or any high draft picks to improve.

The Lakers could ink Howard and move him in a sign-and-trade. There have been whispers that the fellow Staples Center tenants, the Clippers, will offer Blake Griffin and Eric Bledsoe in exchange for Howard. That's a pretty hefty haul.

The Lakers don't have a first-round pick. Their only scheduled selection is 48th overall.

Yes, everything hinges on Howard, but this group had him all season and underachieved. Improvement, somehow, someway, is needed badly.

Players Under Contract: G: Kobe Bryant; F: Pau Gasol; F: Metta World Peace (early termination option); G: Steve Nash; G: Steve Blake; G: Chris Duhon; G: Jodie Meeks (team option); F: Jordan Hill

Free Agents: C: Dwight Howard; C: Earl Clark; F: Antawn Jamison; F: Devin Ebanks (restricted); G: Darius Morris (restricted); G: Andrew Goudelock (restricted); C: Robert Sacre (restricted)

Recent Draft History:

2012: Robert Sacre (60)

2011: Darius Morris (41), Andrew Goudelock (46), Ater Mojak (58)

2010: Devin Ebanks (43), Derrick Caracter (58)

2009: Toney Douglas (29), Patrick Beverley (42), Chinemelu Elonu (59)

2008: Joe Crawford (58)

Draft picks: 2nd round (48th overall)

06/24 10:12:42 ET