Jump to content




Photo

Dwight Howard hints that he's ready to take over the Lakers once Kobe retires talks about health, reputation and Lakers' woes

Dwight Howard

  • Please log in to reply
32 replies to this topic

#1 Bjork

Bjork

    Sugg

  • 1,316 posts
  • Joined: Nov 30, 2011
  • Location:New Jersey
  • Name:James
  • Fan Since:2000
  • Fav. Laker:bean

Posted December 23, 2012 - 02:40 PM

Posted Image

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Dwight Howard was sitting down on Friday, which is good considering the topics at hand.
His surgically-repaired back that still isn't right yet. The Lakers' defense that's in need of a heart transplant. The reputation that he's still trying to repair after the tumultuous path he took to get here.
It made all sorts of sense that Howard stayed seated for this weighty discussion.
While Steve Nash would make his return the following night, the two-time MVP point guard bringing his offensive wizardry back to the Lakers in a 118-115 overtime win at Golden State that was the fourth in a row for the 13-14 squad, Howard's focus both then and now is on the other end. This Lakers team that features a three-time Defensive Player of the Year (Howard), a nine-time all-defensive first team player (Kobe Bryant), and a fellow former Defensive Player of the Year (Metta World Peace) is ranked an inexcusable 16th in defensive rating (102.2 points allowed per 100 possessions).
Howard is well aware that the Lakers' demise comes with a ripple effect, his name as the best defender in the game dishonored a little more with every hapless defensive effort. For all the silliness that never stops with Howard, he has no shortage of pride. What he doesn't have and so badly needs, however, is the physical capability to play like the dominant force he's been for most of eight seasons.
Howard is progressing quickly these days, but he said he's still feeling the effects of the April surgery to repair a herniated disk. In other words, Dwight Howard still isn't Dwight Howard just yet.
"I'm still in that process," Howard said in an extensive interview with USA TODAY Sports at the team's practice facility. "People don't understand that. They just come out and see me make a couple dunks and blocks and say, 'Oh, he's back.' But it does take a while for all this stuff to heal. This is not something easy, so I understand that. It will come."
Just not quickly enough for his or Lakers fans' liking.
While Howard's production is at a high-level (he's averaging 17.8 points, 11.9 rebounds, 2.6 blocks, and 1.1 steals per game), the nuances of defense can't be found in a box score. He still gets tired, which means he doesn't scramble from end to end like he used to or always finish plays. He's still learning his teammates' tendencies as defenders, still deciding when to bite his tongue about their deficiencies and – as was the case in a Dec. 5 game at New Orleans when Howard and Bryant got in a shouting match – when to speak up.
Howard has routinely cited the nerve damage that was done when he injured his back last season, when doctors told him to either have surgery right away and miss the Magic's playoff run or run the risk of never playing again. But the part that he's kept quiet is the lingering effects of the procedure.
"Tingling in my legs all the way down to my feet," Howard said as he described his current state. "There's times when sometimes I really can't even feel my feet. (The doctors) said that's going to happen. It takes at least nine months for you to get strength back in your legs and all that stuff. So I'm still in that process."
The conditioning is equally important when it comes to Howard's game, as his ability to not only outmuscle opponents but to outwork them has been his calling card until recently. The lungs, just like the legs, are slowly coming back to him.
"I'm (still) getting super tired," said Howard, who had just 11 points, six rebounds, two blocks, and one steal against the Warriors before fouling out with eight seconds left in overtime. "At the beginning of the season, I was getting tired in the first quarter, after a couple of possessions. Sometimes I'm a little winded come second half, where it takes me a little longer to get going. I understand it's a process. By the end of the year, I should be in great shape. I've never taken six months off of anything.
"The biggest thing about playing defense is that it's not just heart, but just being in shape. You've really got to be in shape to get down in a defensive stance, slide with a man, especially these guards. And then when they turn the corner, try to meet them at the rim. You have to be in great shape. And for the most part of my career, I've been in tip top shape where I could play 40 minutes nonstop without getting tired. And now I'm just not there."
***
Howard didn't forget the homework he assigned to the media on Thursday, when a reporter's question about defense and who was the most dominant in the NBA land inspired the Lakers center to play the part of professor and demand that some research was done.
There was, he had indicated for the second time in these last few months,a problem with this premise that New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler was the defensive catalyst that the media had made him out to be last season. This was the three-time Defensive Player of the Year discussing the rival big man who kept him from joining Dikembe Mutombo and Ben Wallace as the only players to win a fourth, so tact would take a backseat to truth as he made his feelings known about the player who he'll see yet again on Christmas Day at the Staples Center.
When Friday rolled around, the topics had changed for everyone besides Howard. His lesson was far from done.
"Did you check the stats?" he said to this reporter on Friday.
The numbers, as he had hinted, don't lie.
Howard only missed 12 games in the lockout-shortened, 66-game season because of his injury, and his damage done defensively was impressive: 10.8 defensive rebounds per game (led the league), 2.1 blocks (third), and 1.5 steals (led all centers). Chandler, by comparison, was just seventh in defensive rebounds (6.5 per game),
11th in blocks (1.4) and sixth in steals (0.9).

Posted Image
Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) and Lakers center Dwight Howard (12) talk on the court against the Washington Wizards in the fourth quarter at Verizon Center.(Photo: Geoff Burke, USA TODAY Sports)

But individual defensive legacies are most often born out of collective success, and Howard undoubtedly paid the price for the fact that the Magic fell from third in defensive rating in 2010-11 (99.1) to a mediocre 13th last season (101.7 and, ironically, tied with the Lakers). Chandler, meanwhile, received enormous credit for the defensive strides made in his first season in New York: the Knicks finished fifth in defensive rating (98.4) after they were 21st the season prior (106.9).
The equation isn't nearly as simple as Howard makes it out to be, as the reality of his situation is that he'll be held accountable for the Lakers' defensive fate just as he was with the Magic. To that end, he knows it may still take time to turn a corner with this group. It goes well beyond Howard, Bryant and World Peace, with everyone – yes, even the defensively-challenged Nash – needed to improve on that end.
"This year, (fans and media) look at our defense and basically (see that) it's terrible," Howard said. "I need to step my defense up (but) the teams I've been on, they've played great team defense. And the reason why is because we were in our spots, we talked, we communicated, we had chemistry. We didn't start off that way. Our team was just as bad when I first got to Orlando as far as defense. But the more time we spent together, the better we got. And then that's where I got better as a defensive player."
The Magic were ranked 18th in defensive rating during Howard's rookie season (2004-05), then 22nd his second season, then made serious strides from there: seventh in 2006-07, then fifth, first in the 2008-09 season when they fell to the Lakers in the Finals, first again, then third in 2010-11.
"It wasn't just me blocking shots, it was being active on pick and rolls, and knowing that I have people behind me who are going to get steals and try to play their best one on one defense and just bring their man to the paint and make them finish on me," Howard said.
But that's not happening yet with the Lakers, which has everything to do with his decision to call Bryant out for a defensive lapse in that Dec. 5 game. The moment, Howard admitted, was significant for their relationship.
"I think it is (big), but I've never been afraid to speak my mind," he said. "I'm a person that, for the most part, I keep stuff to myself. I'm not big with confrontation. But I just understand that this team has the capability of being special, to do some special things with what we have. But everybody has to buy into it, and it starts on defense. And we'll all get there, but there are just certain things that I have to see from this team and from myself."

While Bryant is the one with the storied past and present with these Lakers, Howard is seen by both them and him as the future. He has yet to make any promises about re-signing with the Lakers when he becomes a free agent this summer, but continued to sound as if his plans don't include any other teams. The power shift, he made clear, is already underway.
"I know who (Bryant) is to this team, what he has been to this team for a long time," Howard continued. "But there's going to come a day where he's going to be gone, and that's when I have to step in and fill that void and take this team to the next level. That's why I'm here. That's why they wanted me here, and I'm going to do my job and my part to make sure this team gets there – and it starts with me.
"Even now, it starts with me. That's why I come in, and I work as hard as I can every day, don't take days off and all that stuff because I want to show these guys that I'm all about winning and I'm all about making sure this team gets to the top. That's all we say. At the top is us. That's where we want to be."


Edited by Bjork, December 23, 2012 - 03:02 PM.


#2 West Coast

West Coast

    LN Senior Editor

  • 21,426 posts
  • Joined: Jul 31, 2008
  • Location:California
  • Fav. Laker:Kobe Bryant

Posted December 23, 2012 - 02:41 PM

Quote the article

#3 bfc1125roy

bfc1125roy

    Superstar

  • 4,043 posts
  • Joined: Dec 10, 2011
  • Fan Since:2004
  • Fav. Laker:Kobe Bryant

Posted December 23, 2012 - 02:56 PM

I could tell he definitely wasn't 100% last night, but I can't wait for when he is.

#4 Majesty

Majesty

    Luol Deng's cousin is awesome. Thanks for the pizza!!

  • 40,150 posts
  • Joined: Dec 11, 2011
  • Name:Jay
  • Fan Since:1987
  • Fav. Laker:Kobe present, Magic past

Posted December 23, 2012 - 03:03 PM

Yeah!! I love that :D I want us to win a championship this year though so I can be sure lol

Is Wayne Brady gonna have to Djokovic? - Robert Flores


#5 manaro90

manaro90

    Sixth Man

  • 3,623 posts
  • Joined: May 04, 2012
  • Location:Cologne, Germany
  • Fan Since:2000
  • Fav. Laker:Kobe Bryant, Magic, Nick Young

Posted December 23, 2012 - 03:12 PM

i bet ya he resigns :D

Germanys Craziest & Finest LA Lakers Fan #Manaro90

 

"Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night's Watch, for this night and all the nights to come."


#6 Disaster in Paradise

Disaster in Paradise

    Kimagure Orange Road

  • 8,974 posts
  • Joined: Mar 24, 2012
  • Fav. Laker:Grant

Posted December 23, 2012 - 03:14 PM

Woop.

"You watch anime?"

 

- "Yeah, I just got into it! Just recently, I just started watching Attack on Ti-"

 

"Get away from me, pleb."


#7 Drazard

Drazard

    The Death Bringer

  • 1,876 posts
  • Joined: Feb 08, 2012
  • Location:Philippines
  • Name:Drazard
  • Fan Since:1995
  • Fav. Laker:Kobe Bryant

Posted December 23, 2012 - 03:15 PM

So he's going to stay ! :woot:

33bkfif.jpg


#8 InterNLakerNajkihh

InterNLakerNajkihh

    Rookie

  • 389 posts
  • Joined: Apr 27, 2012
  • Name:Besnik
  • Fan Since:1999
  • Fav. Laker:Kobe

Posted December 23, 2012 - 03:15 PM

AWWWWWWWWWWYEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH


Glad that Howard understands things !

#9 David

David

    Hall Of Fame

  • 9,226 posts
  • Joined: Dec 10, 2010

Posted December 23, 2012 - 04:21 PM

Best part is that we are going to have so much cap space to put talent around Dwight

KOBE. #VINO. BRYANT.


#10 MrKnowItAll

MrKnowItAll

    Starter

  • 5,252 posts
  • Joined: Feb 29, 2012
  • Name:Yosif
  • Fan Since:I was born
  • Fav. Laker:Kobe bryant

Posted December 23, 2012 - 07:37 PM

Best part is that we are going to have so much cap space to put talent around Dwight

People don't understand that we are not going to have a crazy amount of cap space. We are going to sign MAYBE a monta Ellis caliber player

#11 Cj2008nw

Cj2008nw

    Sixth Man

  • 3,119 posts
  • Joined: Dec 26, 2011
  • Fan Since:1999
  • Fav. Laker:Kobe Bryant

Posted December 23, 2012 - 07:46 PM

People don't understand that we are not going to have a crazy amount of cap space. We are going to sign MAYBE a monta Ellis caliber player


Explain why would you say that when Kobe and PAU'S contract will be off the books

#12 Japago

Japago

    Sixth Man

  • 4,054 posts
  • Joined: Aug 02, 2010
  • Name:Pat
  • Fav. Laker:Kobe

Posted December 23, 2012 - 08:23 PM

People don't understand that we are not going to have a crazy amount of cap space. We are going to sign MAYBE a monta Ellis caliber player


The number thrown around when the Lebron James thing came up was about 30 mil.

Posted Image


#13 MrKnowItAll

MrKnowItAll

    Starter

  • 5,252 posts
  • Joined: Feb 29, 2012
  • Name:Yosif
  • Fan Since:I was born
  • Fav. Laker:Kobe bryant

Posted December 23, 2012 - 08:24 PM

Explain why would you say that when Kobe and PAU'S contract will be off the books

People just assume because Pau, metta, Kobe, etc are off the books that we are gonna have enough cap to sign to stars. How much cap do you think we are gonna have??

#14 MrKnowItAll

MrKnowItAll

    Starter

  • 5,252 posts
  • Joined: Feb 29, 2012
  • Name:Yosif
  • Fan Since:I was born
  • Fav. Laker:Kobe bryant

Posted December 23, 2012 - 08:27 PM

The number thrown around when the Lebron James thing came up was about 30 mil.

I'm guessing you're one of those people that think that Kobe will play for the vets minimum. Kobe will get 15-20 mil per year if he decides to keep it going.

#15 Japago

Japago

    Sixth Man

  • 4,054 posts
  • Joined: Aug 02, 2010
  • Name:Pat
  • Fav. Laker:Kobe

Posted December 23, 2012 - 08:28 PM

I'm guessing you're one of those people that think that Kobe will play for the vets minimum. Kobe will get 15-20 mil per year if he decides to keep it going.


Kobe will probably retire after his contract is done.

If the choice is between a young superstar and him, bye bye Kobe.

Posted Image


#16 GCMD

GCMD

    All-Star

  • 6,867 posts
  • Joined: Jul 25, 2008
  • Fav. Laker:Magic Johnson

Posted December 23, 2012 - 10:30 PM

LOL at anyone thinking Kobe gets NEAR a max offer at age 36...

#17 David

David

    Hall Of Fame

  • 9,226 posts
  • Joined: Dec 10, 2010

Posted December 23, 2012 - 11:20 PM

People just assume because Pau, metta, Kobe, etc are off the books that we are gonna have enough cap to sign to stars. How much cap do you think we are gonna have??

http://hoopshype.com/salaries/la_lakers.htm

The only contract we have under our books is Nash's. Add an extra 20 million a year because Dwight is going to get extended.

We have enough cap space.

This was all planned. This is not something that just magically happened. Jimmy also said it himself from his own mouth. Jordan Hill wanted at least a 3 year deal. The Lakers would only offer him 2 at the max. Why? Because they have a plan that in 2014, they are going to start fresh and build pieces that accommodate Dwight. Just like how we have spent years trying to build pieces around Kobe, this time we are going to use Dwight.

Go back to when the Lakers won the 2009 title. Management basically said this, "This is our core and the group of guys we are going to commit to for years to come." They can't keep having a totally new roster every year. That will ruin chemistry and will cause for slow starts because it takes time for players to mesh. Now, even though the front office is committed to the group of players, they are always trying to find ways to improve and bolster the roster. Every front office, well at least the good ones, ask the following questions:

How do we match up to our division?
Conference?
The whole league?

After 2009, Artest was available. One of the reasons that the Lakers got beat in 2008 by the Celtics was because they didn't have that big, physical, perimeter player to guard Pierce. The Lakers took advantage of the opportunity and signed him. That turned out to be a great decision as Artest was one of the biggest reasons why we won in 2010 (his defense and ability to slow down Pierce). 2011 was a bump on the road, as we got swept in the second round. Last year, the front office basically decided that we needed to get quicker in the back-court, so they got Sessions. We got eliminated again in the second round, and questions began to rose (eg. Bynum's maturity). And we all know what happened this off-season.....


My point is that this was all planned and designed. Will Kobe hang it up right away? I do not know. I think if we have enough talent in that year for another shot at the title, Kobe will resign for cheap. There will some teams that would offer him some big contract I bet, particularly because Kobe's name is so big and can be used as a marketing tactic, but Kobe is going to stay and retire as a Laker. When the Lakers traded for Dwight, they go someone who Kobe can hand the keys to. As some users here like to say, "The Lakers Don't Rebuild, They RELOAD."

KOBE. #VINO. BRYANT.


#18 MrKnowItAll

MrKnowItAll

    Starter

  • 5,252 posts
  • Joined: Feb 29, 2012
  • Name:Yosif
  • Fan Since:I was born
  • Fav. Laker:Kobe bryant

Posted December 24, 2012 - 12:53 AM

IMO Kobe will keep playing after his contract

#19 noknife

noknife

    Sixth Man

  • 3,418 posts
  • Joined: May 21, 2009
  • Fan Since:1978
  • Fav. Laker:Shaquille Oneal/Kobe Bryant

Posted December 24, 2012 - 08:14 AM

Kobe won't get big money after his contract expires, at least not from the Lakers.

#20 LakeShow805

LakeShow805

    Superstar

  • 7,743 posts
  • Joined: Jun 13, 2011
  • Location:Cali
  • Name:Tyler
  • Fan Since:2000
  • Fav. Laker:The mamba

Posted December 24, 2012 - 08:30 AM

LOL at anyone thinking Kobe gets NEAR a max offer at age 36...

if he is still averaging 25+ points I could see 15-20 mil





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Dwight Howard

2 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 2 guests, 0 anonymous users