Los Angeles Lakers

Dwight Howard has finally made his big decision and it’s bad news to four out of the five teams who were trying to get him to wear their jersey.  He told Dallas that they were out of the running first, and shortly thereafter news surfaced that he had chosen to sign with Houston.

dwight-howard-houston-rockets-1

This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to many unless you’ve been living on the moon, and even there you’ve probably heard about all of the Dwight drama.  It was basically a done deal that Dwight wanted to go to Houston to play along side the likes of Jeremy Lin and James Harden; a young core of players where Dwight wouldn’t feel the immense pressure to succeed like he would in Staples Center.  The lights of Hollywood were just too big for the NBA’s best center, and so he decided to go to a place where everything wouldn’t be on his shoulders.

All this news according to Sam Amick of USA Today:

 

Now, Howard can’t officially sign the deal until July 10, when the NBA lifts the moratorium, but it’s a done deal that Howard has made up his mind and he wants to take his talents to Texas.  What does this mean for the Lakers?  Well currently Los Angeles is without a decent center, with only Jordan Hill and Robert Sacre on the roster.  Los Angeles has many options to choose from to fix the currently shallow roster and I’m sure Mitch Kupchak is already on the phone making deals and asking questions.

This news of Howard affects the entire league as some players were basing their decisions off of his as to where they would sign.

However, news just surfaced that Howard’s agent has said Howard has NOT made his decision yet on where he plans to play next season.  Regardless of whether he has finalized his decision or not, it’s likely that Houston will be the winners of the Dwight Howard sweepstakes.

Chris Broussard has reported that Dwight’s camp has notified the Los Angeles Lakers that he will not be returning to the team.  Howard is to sign a 4 year 88 million dollar deal with the Houston Rockets.

I’ll update this article as more news comes out, so be sure to keep checking back Nation.  Are you glad to see him leave LA?  Would you have preferred to see him stay? Let’s hear your thoughts Nation!

Last night the San Antonio Spurs handed the Los Angeles Lakers their worst home playoff loss in history.  A 120-89 defeat to a dilapidated Lakers team has left fans and the team in utter disbelief.  With a season filled with such hope prior to its start, this ending is what no fan ever expected.

The injury bug would be an understatement, it was more of an injury plague, and one that affected every single Lakers starter and most of the bench.  No one managed to escape it, and this is just something that comes with being an old team and just never seeming to catch that elusive “break” everyone else seemed to get this season.

Regardless of the injuries and which teams had better luck than the Lakers, they still find themselves in an 0-3 hole against the number two seeded San Antonio Spurs.  In NBA history no team has ever come back from this kind of deficit to win the series, so the future looks bleak for this years Lakers team.  Of course anything is possible in the NBA and maybe this years team could be the first to ever come back from such a hole, or you could be in need of seeking a mental institution that could lock you up alone in a room for being delusional.

After the game on Friday night players were deflated, Lakers players that is, across the building the Spurs were massaging their hands after delivering such a spanking.  These following quotes via the Lakers NBA page:

“We respect these guys, and we’re not trying to give them any momentum whatsoever, Duncan said.”

Well that’s a nice way to talk about embarrassing a storied franchise like the Lakers, a team not used to being a seventh seeded playoff team let alone losing by 31 points at home.

Coach D’Antoni weighed in as well,

“The first half, we gave everything we had, and it obviously wasn’t enough,” Los Angeles coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I thought our guys played as hard as they can play.”

PhotoCredit:Harry How/Getty Images

PhotoCredit:Harry How/Getty Images

It’s almost sad to hear something like this, with as depleted as the Lakers were last night, and clearly they were, they still tried as hard as they could and that resulted in a 31 point defeat. Wow.

At least Howard hasn’t given up hope, even if everyone else likely has,

“It’s been a very tough year, but we’re not going to make any excuses, and we’re not going to quit,” Howard said.

Honestly, what is he supposed to say?  We’re done, we have no shot, let’s just throw in the towel and go home?  So his statement doesn’t carry much weight, but at least he said it, that’s what counts.

However Ginobili didn’t quite hold back with his statements,

“We saw the opportunity because of their injuries and the lack of length of the bench and the depth of the bench. We really punished them.”

Punished is a great word for what they did to the Lakers last night, truly couldn’t have said it any better myself.  He didn’t sugar coat his commentary and he shouldn’t have, although I’ll bet him and the rest of the Spurs are still bitter from the 2004 and 2008 playoffs, in which LA got the better end of those series’.

So, after such a loss the Lakers didn’t only lose the game and likely the series but they lost their luster and overall shine they used to produce for the Laker faithful.  I don’t remember watching a Laker playoff series quite as bad as this one, where it’s really just not competitive.  Even getting swept by Dallas in 2011 was more competitive than this, and at least it wasn’t in the first round.  The Lakers are known for putting on a show with an extremely high entertainment value, and last night that just wasn’t the case.  Even in losses the Lakers managed to fight to the end and keep it interesting with that allure that hovered over Los Angeles like a halo.

I know they’re injured but the product on the floor was just not something to be very proud of or worthy of remembrance.  The fans boo’d midway through the second quarter and by the end of the game were chanting “We want Phil”, and at this point the chance of the Lakers getting PJ back is about as good as winning this series.  The funny thing is that it’s not even all D’Antoni’s fault, the man never got a chance to have his whole team at his disposal, and that’s difficult for any coach, even Phil Jackson.

As negative as this article may sound, I’d like to point out a few bright spots or silver linings from last nights trouncing.  Andrew Goudelock deserves to be

PhotoCredit:GettyImages

PhotoCredit:GettyImages

considered for a roster spot next season, he played great last night and showed he deserves to be given a chance.  Same goes for Darius Morris as he played great as well and stepped up when his moment came. Pau Gasol also posted only the seventh Laker playoff triple double ever, congratulations to the big man for going out there and competing in every aspect of the game.  Dwight had good numbers too, putting up 25 and 11 but they could’ve been better for somebody of his caliber.  The guys went out and competed, it just wasn’t nearly enough.

Bottom line is the Lakers are done for this season, not much dispute there. Whether they fold on Sunday night or extend it back to San Antonio, the season is over and can go down as a colossal failure.  Last nights loss was but a microcosm of the entire season.  With a starting line up consisting of Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, and Dwight Howard nobody anticipated it all going down this way, no one saw the team personifying the Hindenburg disaster.  Set your sights on next year Laker Nation, changes will be made, injuries will heal, and the Los Angeles Lakers will be in top form to compete for an NBA Championship, mark my words.

PhotoCredit:Jae C. Hong:Associated Press

PhotoCredit:Jae C. Hong:Associated Press

After such a tumultuous season, the 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers with a starting lineup consisting of Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, and Dwight Howard have managed to will their way into the playoffs having secured the 7th seed and a first round matchup with the San Antonio Spurs.  This season was likely the most difficult, frustrating, and emotionally draining season for many, if not all, of the Lakers.

Despite the up’s and down’s of this season however, the Lakers managed to will their way into the playoffs winning a rather favorable matchup against the sliding San Antonio Spurs.  San Antonio is 3-7 in their last 10 games dating back to their final game in March.  They also have been dealing with injuries as of late to Manu Ginobili and their star Tony Parker, which have clearly affected their performance as of late.  Facing a beat up Spurs team is the best matchup in the West that Los Angeles could have asked for, as San Antonio isn’t young or fast enough to run LA out of the building much like OKC could do.

This brings me to what these playoffs actually mean for the Los Angeles Lakers, more than just winning and attempting to make a deep run.  These playoffs could truly decide the future of the Lakers and what should happen to them after this season is over. Without their fearless leader, Kobe Bryant, this years playoff team lacks a huge component, so big in fact many fans doubt their chances to even move past the first round.  Without Kobe, Los Angeles’ journey will certainly be more difficult, but it won’t be impossible, not if certain players step up and try to fill those shoes. This years playoffs could decide whether Dwight resigns, this years playoffs could decide what the Lakers front office does about Kobe Bryant, it could be the difference between the Lakers being a decent team for years to come, or a great one.

I’m pointing my finger directly at Dwight Howard.

Dwight Howard’s time to show LA what he’s all about, and what he is truly capable of is right now. If he wants fan support, front office support, and an overall sense of accomplishment, he’ll put his best games on the court now for the playoffs.  Dwight has said the weight shouldn’t fall all on his shoulders, and he’s right, but a large amount of it should because Dwight is a superstar and he needs to perform like one. As of late, him and Pau Gasol have found that elusive chemistry they had longed for since the start of the season.  This tandem out on the court is hard to beat especially when they’re playing at their best, an example would be the Lakers last win of the season against the Houston Rockets, Pau and Dwight combined for 38 rebounds, with Pau achieving a triple-double.

The Lakers will have to rely heavily on their front court because of the injuries to their backcourt of Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant. Granted, Steve Blake and Jodie

PhotoCredit:Stephen Dunn:Getty Images

PhotoCredit:Stephen Dunn:Getty Images

Meeks have stepped up to fill the void, there’s only so much they can do. With Pau and Dwight at their best, and the rest of the Lakers role players stepping up, Los Angeles will be a difficult opponent for anyone in the Western Conference.

This year means more than just winning to win.  This year means winning for the late Dr. Buss.  This year means winning for Kobe Bryant, who did all he could to get the Lakers to this point in the season before that untimely achilles tear.  This year means winning for the fans of the Los Angeles Lakers who have stuck by the side of the Lakers since the start despite this roller coaster of a season. Dwight’s moment to step into the bright spotlight of Los Angeles is right now, and he couldn’t ask for a better moment.

We can’t predict the future or what will happen at the end of the season, we can only plan for right now and right now is the time to take action. This year will test the will power of the Lakers without their fearless leader being able to build up their spirits in times of hardship, but they’ve shown what they’re capable of these past couple games without him. Here’s to a deep run LakerNation, let’s go.

PhotoCredit:Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

PhotoCredit:Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone knows Kobe Bryant is one of the world’s greatest competitors that it has ever seen, and everyone knows that the Los Angeles Lakers need him to play well and every minute on the court is of paramount importance to their success.  However, everyone may not know that coach D’Antoni is overplaying Bryant over these past four games as Kobe has played nearly all 48 minutes in every contest.  That’s right, almost 48 minutes, that is unreal even for a player in their mid 20′s let alone a 34 year old Bryant.

In the past four games the Lakers played SAC, DAL, MEM, LAC, and Bryant played 47 minutes 37 seconds, 47 minutes four seconds, 42 minutes 32 seconds, and 47 minutes 20 seconds in each game respectively.  That’s an average of about 46 minutes per game, an extremely high amount for someone with the mileage that Kobe Bryant has on his body.  However, if anyone could do it it’s Bryant, he takes care of himself, conditions well, and makes sure he is always in top shape so he can perform his best on the basketball court.

PhotoCredit:AP-PhotoMarkJ.Terrill

PhotoCredit:AP-PhotoMarkJ.Terrill

Even though Bryant is clearly capable of playing these minutes as he’s exhibited these past four games, it’s going to harm him in the long run should the Lakers make the playoffs.  It’s even affecting him now, and considering Bryant is coming off a severely sprained ankle and a bone spur on the same foot, these minutes seem to be taking a toll on Bryant.

Throughout these past four games Bryant’s shooting percentage is down sitting at 37% during the span, and he’s even worse from beyond the arc at a paltry 5% on 1-20 shooting, the lone make being against the Clippers in a loss on Sunday. This can be attributed to tired legs and Bryant just not quite being able to muster up all his strength at times when he normally could on adequate rest.

There is a silver lining though as Bryant’s RPG and APG have been dramatically higher as he works to get his teammates involved early and often and stays active on the boards, securing rebounds and extra possessions.  Bryant, over the span, is averaging 8 RPG, and 11 APG, both significantly higher than his season averages.  He’s also averaging 22.75 PPG which is noticeably lower than his season average of 26.96 PPG, but that can be attributed to his increased assist total as Bryant is looking to pass more often than taking shots.

Playing these kind of minutes takes a large toll on a 34 year old body with the kind of basketball mileage that Bryant has accumulated throughout his career.  Seeing those numbers dip to a sub-par level is just a precursor of what fans can expect to see come playoff time should the Lakers make it.  If Kobe doesn’t start to see some rest soon he could be completely burnt out come playoff time, having used up his energy just to make it their. Bryant isn’t playing this many minutes unwillingly however says coach D’Antoni.  This via latimes.com:

“A lot of it is in the moment, ‘How do you feel?’ ‘What’s going on?’” said D’Antoni about making sure Bryant isn’t overextended. “We’re trying to steal minutes when we can for him.”

“He insists.  He wants to play,” according to D’Antoni.  “I’ve got to trust how he feels about his body and how he feels about his situation.”

Regardless of whether Kobe wants to play these minutes or not, someone has to step in and say enough is enough and he needs to start saving some of those

PhotoCredit:AP Photo:Mark J. Terrill

PhotoCredit:AP Photo:Mark J. Terrill

minutes for a potential playoff run.  There is no point to work this hard to make the playoffs if the Lakers lose in the first round because their star player is burnt out. There needs to be a common ground where Bryant can play a larger sum of minutes and still get the rest he needs and deserves during these important games.

Kobe Bryant wants his team to make the playoffs more than anything and he is willing to go to extreme measures to ensure that happens.  Unfortunately it’s at the expense of his health and overall stamina which may affect his level of play should the Lakers make the playoffs. Seeing Bryant play this much is a true testament to his will and drive to win, but even he knows he needs to save himself for the playoffs, which is all Los Angeles has ever played for. Bryant’s minutes need to decrease over the next five games if the Lakers hope to keep him at full strength for the playoffs, and they need to find a way to win at least four of those next five games without Bryant playing so much if they hope to hang onto that elusive eighth seed and make a playoff run.

PhotoCredit:Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA TODAY Sports

PhotoCredit:Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA TODAY Sports

No one truly knows when Kobe Bryant will call it a career except Kobe himself, and that’s how it should be.  Kobe stated as a rookie that he didn’t plan on playing past 35 years of age, or until he could no longer play at the extremely high level he performs at, and he’s stuck to his guns up to this point in his storied career.  The Laker faithful would love to see him play until he can no longer walk or dribble a basketball, I think everyone would actually, the man’s a future Hall of Famer. He’s been with the franchise since he was traded to Los Angeles on draft day in 1996, and he has no plans on ever playing for anyone but the purple and gold.

Kobe doesn’t plan on leading everyone on until the final minute about his retirement plans so he’s given himself a deadline of this upcoming Summer for his decision to be final.  This via NBA.com:

“We’ll talk,” Bryant said after piling up 19 points, 14 assists against one turnover and nine rebounds while playing all but 23 seconds of the 103-98 victory over the Kings at Sleep Train Arena. “I’ll talk to my family and stuff and really see if I want to continue to sacrifice as much as I’m sacrificing right now. I’m putting my body through a lot to just try to get ready to play every single night. To do what I’m doing right now, it’s not easy. I’ll tell you, it’s taken a lot of commitment.”

People and fans everywhere don’t often take a moment to sit and think about what it takes to play basketball as marvelously as Kobe Bryant does, sure he has the talent to back it up, but to tap into the full potential of that talent takes sacrifice, commitment, and the strongest love of the game one can imagine.  Asked if he thinks next season will be his last, Bryant was short and to the point:

“As I sit here right now, yeah.”

Is there anything the Lakers can say that would make it more likely you play beyond next season?

“No,” Bryant told NBA.com. “It’s my decision. It’s really about what I want to do, if I want to train and be psychotic with my training. That’s what it comes down to. It’s really how I’m feeling physically.”

PhotoCredit:Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

PhotoCredit:Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Personally, I feel Kobe will continue beyond next season, or he’ll take a season off, realize he made a mistake and make a comeback much like Michael Jordan did.  However, Kobe would likely come back to Los Angeles and play for them again as opposed to another team, but this is all just speculation and again no one knows what will happen except Bryant himself.

We all have to take a minute and think about how hard Bryant has worked over the past 17 years in the NBA, and the kind of love and dedication to the game he has.  Doing that for another 3 years is quite daunting to think about and at 35 years old by the start of next season Bryant may just not have it in him.  This Summer will be highly intriguing for Los Angeles with the pending resigning of C Dwight Howard and what direction the Lakers organization would like to take the franchise based on Bryant’s imminent decision.  In the end it’s Bryant’s decision to make and no one else should have a say in it, he’s absolutely earned that.

The Los Angeles Lakers walk into the Amway Center tonight winners of four out of their last five games and tied with the Utah Jazz currently for the 8th seed in the Western Conference playoffs race. However, with all due respect to the attention that the story line have received, it fails in comparison to what will take place tonight. ESPN First Take correspondent Stephen A. Smith said Orlando Magic front office personnel Nick Anderson stated in relation:

“Dwight Howard has no idea what he is in for.”

Today’s game against the Magic marks the return of Dwight Howard to his former residence of eight years. After a tumultuous last season in Orlando and demands to go to Brooklyn he returns as the Lakers new centerpiece with playoff aspirations on his mind. Orlando Sentinel writer Brian Schmitz has already named the buzz around his return to the arena the “Dwightmosphere” as all eyes are on Howard and how he will react to the fans, media, and his former teammates. When originally asked the question, via Mike Bresnahan and Eric Pincus of the LA Times, Dwight responded,

“I’ve thought about it. I think it’s going to be crazy,” said Howard, who played his first eight NBA seasons with the Magic. “I don’t know how I’m going to handle it.

“I remember the situation with LeBron [James] when he went to Cleveland for the first time. After the game, those guys were talking about how they were just trying to be there for him because they know how emotional it was. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be very emotional for me. Even just to talk about it just brings back a lot of emotion, but we’ll see how it goes.”

Yet as the day got closer Dwight began to approach the question in all seriousness.

“I’m just looking forward to being back in Orlando. It’s a place where I spent my life up until now,” said Howard, who played his first eight NBA seasons there. “It’s going to be difficult to see things, but I’m happy that I’m in a better place now than I was the beginning of the season.”

Dwight is doing all he can to prepare for the game. He’s even stated that he will “listen to boo tapes” so that he is not too bothered by the reception he will receive. Yet Howard’s teammates have noticed a change in him. Earlier today Steve Nash joked with the media and Dwight about his preparation for the game.

Recently Howard has taken heavy criticism from the Orlando media and his former teammates after he shared his views about his time as a Magic player. Dwight was known as the big fish in a small pond back then and discussed how he took pride among his teammates not being the best.

Howard inadvertently provided the prologue for Tuesday with a recent TV interview in which he said his teams in Orlando were “full of people nobody wanted.”

Howard quickly sought to clarify his comments, saying he merely meant to call his former teammates “underdogs.”

“Everybody overlooked us for the whole time I was there in Orlando and I hated that,” he said.

His former teammates did not take too kindly to those words as they responded hastily. Schmitz reported that Jameer Nelson, drafted the same year as Dwight and a center piece of the Magic franchise said,

“At some point, when are you [Dwight] gonna as a man, when are you going to take ownership and stay out of the media in a professional manner?” Nelson told the Sentinel after Wednesday’s shooatround in Miami.

Glen Davis even chimed in saying he was “shocked” by his friend’s quote:

Davis responded: “I’m really, really shocked. You know, amazed how he’s approaching this. I would think [it’d be best for] him to focus on his team and what he’s doing. You know, I’m going to let Dwight be Dwight. Everybody sees what he’s going through and how he’s feeling. I’m an Orlando Magic, and I love my guys that I play with, and that’s what I focus on. So, you let his comments be his comments, but his comments speak for itself.”

Dave McMenamin reported how Kobe Bryant said he would respond if in a similar situation:

“Just go out there and bust their [rear]. Show them what they’re missing. Save the emotional [stuff] for when you retire. Please”

The Orlando Magic are towards the depths of the eastern conference with a record of 18-46 and no real playoff hope. This game has been circled on their calendar all season long as this is the closest to the “playoff atmosphere” as they will get. The Magic have no true NBA star but have a very balanced offensive attack as four of their starters average double digit numbers.

With the hype surrounding the game the Lakers need to stay focused and take care of business. The playoffs are already looming and having confirmed that they are “scoreboard watching” a loss to Orlando will let the air out of the team and only cause for a tougher fight for the eight playoff seed. The Lakers have an easier schedule ahead of them in comparison to the Jazz, who own the tiebreaker between the teams. Post Orlando, they face a majority of opponents whom are below .500 while the Jazz must face a number of the NBA’s elite. Outside of Utah, the Lakers are also battling with the Houston Rockets. The Rockets are 1 game ahead of both teams for the seventh seed in the playoffs and also face an easier schedule while trying to retain their position.

Dwight Howard can assert his dominance as he will be matched up against second year player Nikola Vucevic for majority of the night. It’s been speculated and widely assumed that he will receive a lot of early touches to get into a good rhythm offensively. There’s no telling how Dwight will react once the game begins. Regardless of the outcome, Dwight is a Laker and will have to put all the baggage behind him.

“All that stuff is over with now,” Howard said. “Today is a new day. Whatever happened in the past, I”m going to leave it behind me. Like I said, I have nothing but love for the fans here. They treated me well. It didn’t end right. It didn’t end the way we all wanted it to end, but I’m in a better place and everybody has to move on.”

PhotoCredit:Jayne Kamin-Oncea, US Presswire

PhotoCredit:Jayne Kamin-Oncea, US Presswire

When The Lakers said no thank you to Phil Jackson earlier this season, fans everywhere thought that’d be the last we’d hear of the 11 time champion coach. Well, that seems to be false, as reports have surfaced that Phil Jackson is now mentoring Dwight Howard.  Dwight had this to say regarding his new mentor in Jackson, via Mark Medina, Daily News LA:

“Phil, he texts me and he understands how it is to come off back surgery,” Howard said. “He just said it takes a full year to recover, so you can’t beat yourself up over the things that have happened this year.”

This is something Howard has been attempting to convey to the general public as of late, but most don’t understand and just want immediate results from Howard.  Phil also believes that LA is misusing Howard and aren’t putting him in the situation he needs to succeed.

“Dwight just doesn’t get any touches,” Jackson said. “They’ve basically eliminated his assets.”

Phil is clearly on Dwight’s side regarding his current situation in LA.  Howard is still rehabbing from his back surgery last April, and it’ll likely be through the offseason that Howard gets himself back to 100%.  Howard sometimes wonders what it’d be like if he had postponed his return until he was 100%.

“I said that plenty of times, but I don’t want myself to be thinking so much on what I should’ve done,” Howard said. “The harder I push myself every day to get better and get in shape, my body will respond. This summer, after the season, I’ll get an opportunity to train and get my body right.”

“Looking back on it, I could have sat out the whole season until now and starting playing now, but I just felt like we had such a great opportunity,” he said. “Some of these guys, their windows for winning are very small, and I just wanted to get back and try to do whatever I can to help this team, knowing that I wasn’t in great shape. My body wasn’t all the way there yet.”

PhotoCredit:Harry How/Getty Images

PhotoCredit:Harry How/Getty Images

Howard is also continuing to nurse his torn labrum in his right shoulder, which also hinders him in games.

“Sometimes I have gotten beat up for it, but that’s fine. I’ll take all those hits and I’ll keep moving,” Howard said. “People watch games and they see me playing so they think it’s all good. It’s just a time thing. I’ve just got to keep going, keep pushing myself and it’ll get better.”

Because Phil Jackson is on Howard’s side and understands him, more fans around the league should be more sympathetic towards Howard as he continuously tries to get himself fully healthy.  Howard returned in order to help out his team when he saw they could really use him, he knew it was risky coming back so early from such a serious injury but he wanted to help out as best as he could.

Howard continues to get healthier by the day and incrementally is performing better and better on the court. With Phil Jackson mentoring Howard one has to think what else they could be talking about, a possible return to LA? Perhaps, but it’s unlikely seeing as D’Antoni is still under contract, but you never know, Los Angeles is always full of surprises.

Remember way back when The Lakers traded their star center Andrew Bynum to Philadelphia in the three way trade that landed Los Angeles Dwight Howard? Of course we

PhotoCredit:David Maialetti:Philly.com

PhotoCredit:David Maialetti:Philly.com

do, how could anyone forget?  Well, despite what many LA fans think about Howard’s sub-par play thus far, it’s still better than that of former Laker Andrew Bynum.

Bynum has played a whopping 0 games this season and is averaging a huge 0 PPG and 0 RPG.  Howard, while not playing to his full potential yet, at least has given it a go this season and attempted to help the team as best as he can.  While many fans of the purple and gold didn’t want to see Bynum go for Howard, we have to be thankful that Howard is at least healthy enough to play this season.  Who knows where The Lakers would be without Bynum or Howard this season, it’s hard to imagine they could be any worse than their current record shows but that would likely be the case.

The District Attorney of Philadelphia had something to say regarding Bynum’s recent lack of play via his personal Twitter account and (LarryBrownSports)

From what the Philly DA is saying, it sounds like he wants to investigate Bynum for fraud for his lack of playing this season.  Bynum is due 17 million this season and he hasn’t helped the 76ers one bit towards winning basketball games.  Considering $17 million is due to Bynum for playing basketball, which he isn’t doing, I think District Attorney Williams has a legitimate case.  I think it’s safe to say, no matter Los Angeles’ current situation, The Lakers received the better end of the deal, hands down.

However, based on the last tweet it completely sounds like this will never happen.  Granted I understand that the district attorney of a city such as Philadelphia has much more important things to worry about than an overpaid basketball player, he probably shouldn’t start the fire if he doesn’t intend to stoke it.  We’ll see if anything comes out of this but don’t hold your breath.

PhotoCredit:Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

PhotoCredit:Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Trade deadline looming, rumors heating up, players wanting out, oh the joys and familiar sounds of the second half of the season.  Days before the trade deadline tend to be the most exciting as rumors buzz around like flies and GM’s scramble to make the best deal possible to put their team in position for a deep playoff run. These rumors certainly have not evaded Los Angeles which is one of the biggest targets on the board before the deadline.

General Manager Mitch Kupchak has come out and publicly said he has no plans of trading the best center in the NBA, it’s just not a good idea.  Here’s what Kupchak said via Realgm.com:

“Dwight is our future,” Kupchak said. “He deserves to have his name on the wall and a statue in front of Staples at some point in time.”

And Howard’s response regarding whether he feels Los Angeles is his future via Realgm.com:

“I do,” Howard said about whether he feels the same way. “We talked about it plenty of times.”

“The only thing that matters is right now. Nobody can control what happens this offseason,” Howard said. “But like I said to you guys before, it’s not something I need to talk about every day. There’s no need for me to make a decision. Right now, it’s where I want to be in the future. My goal hasn’t changed. I want to win a championship and want to win one here. I’m here right now and this is our chance to get one this season. It’s been tough. But we have an opportunity to change all that.”

Considering what Laker fans have been hearing lately, that statement from Howard is a breath of fresh air.  He didn’t guarantee he’d stay here, but he didn’t rule it out either.  And from what I saw, it looks like he truly believes he can make it work here in LA.  So if Kupchak says he’s not being traded and Howard believes it can work in LA, why are we even discussing this?  Because all this talk and all these quotes can be so easily discredited with a simple phone call.

A phone call regarding a blockbuster deal that comes along to LA that makes Kupchak pull the trigger on trading Howard is always a possibility. He says he won’t trade him and is pretty adamant about that, but stranger things have occurred in the NBA, and I wouldn’t put a trade past Mitch if the right deal came along.

PhotoCredit: Sam Forencich:NBAE via Getty Images

PhotoCredit: Sam Forencich:NBAE via Getty Images

However I truly believe Howard is our future in Los Angeles and we need to do everything in our power to keep him here.  Although maybe I spoke to soon as everything can mean a lot.  One possibility floating around is that Howard won’t stay in LA as long as Kobe Bryant is there.  Here’s the quote via Realgm.com:

“I’ve heard rumblings that if Howard told Laker officials this summer that the only way he’d stay in LA is if Kobe leaves, the Lakers could end up choosing Howard over Kobe,” wrote Chad Ford. “It’s an unlikely scenario, but one worth watching.”

I want to put everything I’m made of into believing this scenario would not occur.  I just can’t see Los Angeles parting ways with their superstar and quite possibly the best Laker of all time.  Another option Los Angeles has is to use their amnesty clause on Bryant, cutting ties with the star and removing his $30.45 million contract from their books.  I still find it incredibly difficult to believe that The Lakers would do this just to keep Howard, Bryant has just meant too much to the franchise to kick him to the curb like that.

So it looks like The Lakers have options.

1.  Trade Howard, receive good pieces and throw in the towel on this season to try and rebuild.

2.  Amnesty Bryant (trading is unlikely due to his NTC) and keep Howard happy while signing him to a long term deal.

3.  Or they could manage to find a way where Bryant and Howard both stick with LA, they set aside their differences, and become best friends.

Ok, I probably took that one a bit far, but I do believe that Howard and Bryant can coexist together in Los Angeles to win a championship, in fact they need to.

PhotoCredit: MICHAEL GOULDING/ZUMAPRESS.COM

PhotoCredit: MICHAEL GOULDING/ZUMAPRESS.COM

Howard is the future of Los Angeles.  Whether fans like him, hate him, want him traded, or can’t wait to see him leave to free agency, Los Angeles needs Howard.  They need him to play his best, most powerful basketball he is capable of night in and night out.  When Kobe Bryant, the man who has brought such fame and fortune to the city of Los Angeles, sends his final goodbyes and retires from the game he loves so much, The Lakers will need to turn to Dwight Howard.  Once the trade deadline passes and (hopefully) Dwight is still member of the purple and gold, The Lakers can begin to turn their current season around and convince Howard to stay.

Not to sound like I’m giving up on this season, but I believe next season will be LA’s.  A healthy re-signed Howard, a championship hungry Kobe Bryant, and a plan to work together to win that championship will give fans of The Los Angeles Lakers a very bright future to look forward to for years to come.

So I ask you this LakerNation:

Will Dwight Howard be a Laker on February 22nd, 2013?

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PhotoCredit: BleacherReport.com

PhotoCredit: BleacherReport.com

Tired of hearing about the Dwightmare that seems to take a new turn every day?  Yeah, me too.  With the latest turn of events we see that Dwight Howard reportedly has said that he plans to play in Brooklyn next season.  This coming from a source close to ESPN basketball insider, Stephen A. Smith.  Here’s what the source said via BleacherReport:

A source close to the situation found that the Los Angeles Lakers center recently told Rudy Gay, “on the court,” that he made a mistake by getting traded to the Toronto Raptors.

D12 allegedly went on to say that the swingman “should have waited” until next year, when the two stars could have wound up in Brooklyn together.”

Notice the fact that the report says that Dwight spoke to Rudy Gay “on the court” regarding Brooklyn.  The Lakers haven’t played either The Grizzlies or The Raptors since the trade that sent Gay to Toronto went down.  This leads to questions of credibility about the source that gave out this kind of information.  Is it just another story to fire up the rumor mill? Does it have any clout in the sports world whatsoever?  These are questions that lead me to believe that these reports are highly exaggerated or fabricated entirely.

This was also taken from the BleacherReport article regarding Howard wanting to go to The Nets:

Ryan Ruocco, Smith’s co-host on the radio program, asked if Dwight was “delusional” by thinking he is still going to wind up in Brooklyn. Smith confirmed that D12 truly believes he will be a Net and that the star center thinks he can make something happen to get there in the near future.

It’s because of stories like this that make me nervous about where Dwight will be at the start of next season.  Whether or not the report is true about Dwight speaking to Gay on the court, it doesn’t cover up the fact that Dwight may very well have his sights set on Brooklyn and not Los Angeles.

PhotoCredit: BleacherReport.com

PhotoCredit: BleacherReport.com

That February 21st trade deadline is coming in hot, and who knows what moves (if any) Mitch Kupchak is going to make.  I feel if the Los Angeles front office isn’t at least 80% sure Dwight Howard will resign with The Lakers we need to trade him. The worst possible scenario would be Dwight leaving to free agency and Los Angeles getting absolutely nothing but the door shutting behind Dwight as he leaves Staples Center. However, it’s still unlikely that Mitch will make a move even if Dwight wants to leave due to the foot injury to Pau Gasol.  Gasol is still up to 7 weeks from returning to the lineup, and LA can’t afford to be without a big man until then.  The Lakers front office would have to trade Dwight for another big man such as Brook Lopez of the Brooklyn Nets in order for a trade to work without leaving The Lakers in a situation where they lack a front court entirely.

Personally, I hope Dwight Howard stays with Los Angeles; sure he’s not been the power house Dwight Howard we all knew, but he has the potential to be. Once all this hype over The Lakers dissipates and Dwight continues to heal and move forward from his back injury last April, he’ll come back to being more of his former dominating self. One thing Dwight needs to know is that when Kobe Bryant retires (unfortunately, he has to at some point), Dwight will become the centerpiece of

PhotoCredit:Noah Graham:NBAE:Getty Images

PhotoCredit:Noah Graham:NBAE:Getty Images

Los Angeles, it will become his team.  Kobe could play a few more years should he so choose, but if The Mamba sticks to his guns he plans on calling it quits at age 35.  His 35th birthday would land right before the start of the next and possibly final season for Kobe Bryant.

Can Dwight wait that long? Does he even want to be King in LA?  More questions about the Dwightmare continue to circulate and won’t likely cease until Dwight lands somewhere and inks a long-term contract.  I want to hear what you think, where do you think Dwight will end up after this season?   I suppose only time can truly tell.

Where do you want to see Dwight Howard play next season?

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Photo Credit: NBC LosAngeles

Photo Credit: NBC LosAngeles

The Los Angles Lakers seem to have turned on a switch as of late.  A switch that has the power to turn dismal teams into championship ones, a switch that could very well put the Lakers into title contention.  OK, probably getting ahead of myself there, but nonetheless The Lakers seem to have figured it out these past few games, and the one constant change from those 3 games has been Kobe Bryant.

Kobe isn’t ashamed to consider himself a scorer, and the one guy on the team who can always be counted on to hit clutch shots and make timely buckets. Unfortunately there is that horrible statistic floating around the sports world that states The Lakers are better when Kobe Bryant doesn’t score more than 30 points.  Back in December of this season that stat line read that The Lakers were 1-9 in those very games.  Yikes, that’s quite the horrifying statistic, and I for one thought it was a fluke and that the stat really didn’t mean anything because Kobe was shooting nearly 49% from the field.  When someone shoots that well it makes it hard to believe those shots are unnecessary.

And then suddenly he changed, The Black Mamba, Kobe Bryant, changed.  He changed his game for the sake of the team and boy has it paid off in the best way possible.

Photo Credit: Espn.go

Photo Credit: Espn

The Lakers last four games have been phenomenal (except the collapse in Phoenix) and a lot of it, if not all, is due to Kobe’s new game he’s bringing to the table.  Instead of shooting his average of 21 shots per game, he’s dialed it down to an average of 13 shots per game, and he’s making 53% of those attempts over the last 4 games.  Not only is he adjusting his shots per game but he’s also averaging 12 assists and about 8 rebounds per game over this span.

These kind of changes to Kobe’s game are unprecedented, (Kobe’s career averages are 5 assists and 5 rebounds per game), we have never seen him dish out this many assists in his entire career, it’s just not how he plays basketball.  These near triple-double numbers are exactly what The Lakers need right now and it seems to be paying off in wins.

Kobe Bryant has changed his game by passing up typical “Kobe” shots and instead sends sharp, zooming passes down the lane to a wide open cutter, or he drives to the hoop and kicks it out to an open man beyond the arc.  It’s this type of play that wins games and boosts that ever so elusive team chemistry and moral.  All Laker players are benefitting from Kobe’s unselfish play, and with everyone getting their touches and shots, one can only assume it’s a matter of time before LA gets on the right track.

Unfortunately the team lost their momentum a couple nights ago in Phoenix as they blew a 13 point lead with 9 minutes left in the fourth.  Regardless of the collapse, this is the way the Lakers must play in order to be successful and really make that push to be where they should be.

Photo Credit: MySanAntonio.com

Photo Credit: MySanAntonio.com

Kobe Bryant is a scorer and the one who always takes the open shot if he’s got it, and the fact that he has changed his game so drastically for the betterment of the team is fantastic.  As long as The Lakers continue to play team basketball, find the open man, and play a strong defense they will find themselves close to where they’d like to be.  Unfortunately the hole they dug themselves up to this point in the season is more than likely too deep to get completely out of, but they can fill it in a bit with the style of play they are exhibiting.

The Lakers will be tested again tonight against The Minnesota Timberwolves and I hope to see the new look Kobe Bryant out there on the court.  If the Lakers falter back to their old ways we may as well throw the rest of the season away, as most of you already have.  The Lakers seem to have found a silver lining in this disaster of a season and if they can look to that during hard times they will be successful and begin to chalk up some W’s when it counts.  Here we go Los Angeles, let’s see what we’re made of.

D12

Photo Credit | NBC Sports

When a team plays poorly there are always some options that the GM has at their disposal.  They can trade for some players, look to the free agent market for some sort of spark, or maybe the coach is to blame. In the case of the Los Angeles Lakers, Mitch Kupchak really hasn’t been left with any except to trade one of our All Star pieces.

The Lakers fired head coach Mike Brown, only 5 games into the 2012-13 NBA season, and soon after hired Mike D’Antoni, completely snubbing 11-time World Champion Phil Jackson.  So that makes it very difficult to fire D’Antoni to hire yet ANOTHER head coach. The Lakers would then have three head coaches on their payroll, with two of them at home laughing at how the Lakers can’t seem to get their act together.

D12

Ronald Martinez | Getty Images

Kupchak has been pushed to this point by the poor and lackluster play by the Lakers thus far this season.  I feel (as I know many of you feel also) that there needs to be a change; I truly wish that the Lakers organization had hired Phil when they had the chance, but that didn’t happen, and we will have to look elsewhere now.  Trading seems to be the only logical thing to do at this point and there are a few players that would be perfect center pieces, most notably Dwight Howard.

There has been the idea that Dwight isn’t truly happy here in LA, and his true home lies in Brooklyn with the Nets.  The Nets know this and have since began looking for a possible trade scenario that would land Howard in Brooklyn.  However, the Nets’ GM Billy King has been looking for a third team in which to facilitate this trade, and most recently, that team had been the Minnesota Timberwolves.  The possible trade called for Howard going to Brooklyn, Brook Lopez to Minnesota, and Kevin Love to Los Angeles, with some other smaller pieces thrown in to make the trade work.  More from that trade scenario can be read here.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Denver Nuggets

Garrett W. Ellwood | Getty Images

Unfortunately, Kevin Love has since been sidelined for 8-10 weeks due to re-injuring his broken hand.  That kind of makes this trade impossible as Los Angeles doesn’t want an injured Kevin Love for All-Star Dwight Howard, even if his performance has been sub-par recently.  The Nets will continue to find a suitable third team for the trade, as they clearly want Dwight Howard on their roster so they can make a strong playoff push.

Personally, I feel our problem isn’t Howard or Gasol and trading them would make things worse at this point. That said, as I noted earlier, a new head coach isn’t an option.  D’Antoni is a great head coach for a team that can mesh with his system, but the Los Angeles Lakers are NOT that team.  As long as D’Antoni is head coach and Jim Buss is still running the organization, the Lakers cannot be successful with this current roster.

Trading Dwight is the best option that the Los Angeles Lakers have right now and receiving a great couple of pieces in return would be best.  After such a thrilling off season and excitement building up to this season it kills me to say that we need to trade the player the Lakers worked so hard to acquire, but it has to be done.

Photo Credit: Espn.go.com

Photo Credit: Espn.go.com

Who would have thought we’d be talking about chemistry outside of a science laboratory and relating it to Laker basketball?  Well, that’s where we find ourselves today.  With The Lakers’ struggles at such a critical point and no end in sight, fans and players alike are desperately searching for answers.  Dwight Howard seems to have an answer to these struggles: Chemistry.  No. not the chemistry with chemicals and different solutions, but the chemistry of communication, teamwork, and respect for one another out on the court.  Howard had this to say regarding team chemistry:

“(Chemistry is) something we have to do to get better. We have to play like we like each other. Even if we don’t want to be friends off the court, whatever that may be, when we step in between the lines or we step in the locker room or the gym, we have to respect each other and what we bring to the table.”

I think this speaks volumes for how The Lakers have played thus far.  With Howard and Nash being added in the off-season, veteran Lakers needed to learn how to play with the new guys. These things take time to work and figure out, which is why the Lakers are yet to play some solid, winning basketball.  Howard also believes the Clippers have a great bond and a functioning chemistry, and had this to say regarding that chemistry:

“Those guys on the Clippers team, they really enjoy each other off the court and it shows.”

This was made right after The Clippers game on January 4th.  When the All-Star Center is complementing the other team on their chemistry following a loss, that clearly reveals a problem with chemistry for The Lakers.  During the game, Lakers backup Center Jordan Hill went down with an ankle injury, and while he was writhing on the ground, not a single Laker came over to make sure he was alright.

Chemistry problem.

If they don’t even care enough to make sure a guy is okay, then they clearly don’t care about him much outside of the locker room.  However, Coach D’Antoni didn’t believe that snub was intentional:

“I think it was a lapse. I don’t think it was meant,” D’Antoni said of the team’s lack of a reaction to Hill’s injury. “It’s something we addressed and talked about.

Well, coach doesn’t think that was an intentional act, and perhaps it wasn’t, perhaps it was just a momentary lapse where other players were caught up in the moment of the game and they didn’t think to check on the injured Hill.  I can believe this as easily as I can believe they did it intentionally. The Lakers aren’t in a good place right now and they have a lot bigger problems to deal with than whether or not they checked on an injured player.

D’Antoni later commented on The Lakers’ chemistry:

“I don’t know if it’s because of a lack of training camp, or a lack of Steve being with us from the beginning, but the relationship between Steve and Dwight’s got to get a lot better,” D’Antoni said. “It’s not creating the easy shots that we need.”

Clearly the chemistry between Nash and Howard isn’t where it needs to be in order to work in a D’Antoni offense.  Once Howard returns from his shoulder injury and is able to get more time working with Nash, their chemistry will likely improve. However, that will not fix everything by any means.  D’Antoni also commented on liking each other outside the locker room:

“I don’t think you have to love each other. But you have to respect each other with what they do on the court.”

This quote from coach D’Antoni stands out.  The players don’t have to be best friends off the court, but they must respect each other in order to have a successful basketball team.  Once the Lakers get more accustomed to one another and become better friends, they will begin to play better, winning basketball.  The Lakers current chemistry is nothing to be proud of, and hopefully will improve with time… because it’s chemistry that will ultimately lead the Lakers to victory.

(More about The Lakers chemistry can be read here)

Photo Credit: Getty Images

This is turning out to be a season for Pau Gasol to forget. His stat line is a career low, his minutes aren’t where they should be, and he’s already missed eight games with knee tendonitis. Clearly Pau isn’t in full form, and his true potential has not yet been unlocked in Mike D’Antoni’s system.

So with these problems existing, D’Antoni invited Gasol out to dinner at a local Manhattan Beach restaurant to clear the air and talk about how Pau is going to fit into D’Antoni’s new system, according to the LA Times.

Pau had some clear issues he wanted cleared up with D’Antoni. They were as follows:

1. He no longer wanted to be benched in the final minutes of crucial games, or any game for that matter.

2. He wants the ball more in the post instead of on the perimeter, where he is less comfortable.

3. He wants D’Antoni to trust him with the ball in his hands.

Gasol had most recently been benched in the final minutes of the 101-100 win over Charlotte. Being a two- time NBA Champion, Gasol felt he should be playing in these crucial minutes in order to help his team pull away with a W. Sources familiar with the conversation say that D’Antoni agreed to no longer bench Gasol in the final minutes. D’Antoni’s new system also calls for more spacing on the floor, which means he wants Gasol to be out on the perimeter more than in the post where Gasol is most comfortable. And finally, Gasol wants to be trusted as he feels he has earned that trust with the 2 championships he’s been apart of in LA. D’Antoni then had this to say regarding their meal together:

I thought he was great and gave me a lot of insight into a lot of things. It was more of a feeling-out process and what makes him feel comfortable. He’s a very intelligent basketball player. Why wouldn’t I get his opinion about a lot of things?”

Overall this system isn’t quite the perfect fit for Gasol, as he is a post player and this system calls for him playing the perimeter.  However D’Antoni wanting to share a meal with Pau and talk things over shows the great deal of respect that he has for Gasol.  More from that dinner can be seen from here.  Hopefully things get better as the season wears on, and Gasol and D’Antoni can meet halfway with their different ideas of playing basketball.  Bottom line, this dinner was beneficial for both parties, and things should be looking up for Gasol from here on out.

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