So what if Dwight Howard leaves? Here’s one thing you won’t see: the Lakers helping him find his dream team, or trying to salvage something for him, with a sign-and-trade.

Barring a bonanza they don’t expect to be offered, insiders say the Lakers’ fallback position would be to bring back this team and bank the savings—almost $50 million in salary and luxury tax.

They would then drop under the luxury tax threshold after next season–a Laker priority after paying the tax for as long as there has been one, with new, ever-escalating repeater penalties. In the key, it would give them $55 million worth of cap space for the 2014 free agent class, which could include LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.

The Rockets, thought to be the Lakers’ leading challenger for Howard’s hand, could open up a maximum $20.5 million slot.