The rumored deal -- in which Howard would sign with the Lakers, who would then trade him to the Clippers for Blake Griffin and Eric Bledsoe -- isn’t something either team is willing to do, said the executives, who asked to be quoted anonymously because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
“Either the Lakers sign Howard or they will get cap space for 2014,” said an executive with a Western Conference team.
Another executive said the Clippers aren’t looking to move Griffin.
The Lakers currently have only one contract on their books for the 2014-15 season, Steve Nash for $9.7 million. That means if Howard were to walk this summer as a unrestricted free agent, the team would have room under the salary cap to sign two maximum-salary free agents next year and still have enough to sign Kobe Bryant for one more year at about $10 million.
Bryant ($30.5 million), Pau Gasol ($19.3 million) and Metta World Peace ($7.7 million) are all entering the final season of their Lakers contracts. Either Gasol or World Peace is likely to be waived next month via the one-time "amnesty" provision.