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.
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.
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: