Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Is Dwight Howard Going to be a Los Angeles Laker Next Season?

As the dust settled Sunday night in Staples Center on what was a four-game sweep for the San Antonio Spurs, the questions were already hitting the proverbial fan before the Los Angeles Lakers and their fans knew how to answer them.

The team with the second most titles (16) in NBA history had just been outclassed both on and off the court by a rival who seems bent on returning to the top of the NBA food chain.

Signed Dwight Howard Picture - 11x14 Psa dna #j60395Even though the Lakers were eliminated, and even though the Spurs are the ones moving on to round two of the playoffs, the former will no doubt continue to dominate many of the NBA headlines moving forward. Yes, life in Hollywood has a way of doing that.

In what turned out to be one of the more disappointing Laker seasons in recent memory, this despite making a late-season run to get into the playoffs as the seventh seed in the Western Conference, the Purple and Gold were unceremoniously run out of the postseason by one of the most stable franchises going today.

And with that early departure, the questions quickly begin for the Lakers, among which include:

* Will center Dwight Howard return to L.A. next season?

* Will future Hall-of-Famer Kobe Bryant be able to overcome his Achilles tendon surgery and return to being still one of the most productive players at his age, this despite a ton of miles on that frame of his?

* Will future Hall-of-Famer Steve Nash suit up again not only in L.A. but for anyone next season?

* Will GM Mitch Kupchak be able to pull a rabbit out of a hat and put a competitive team on the floor next season, especially with major salary cap issues to deal with?

* Oh, don’t forget the future whereabouts of one Pau Gasol.

Is Howard Worth a Max Contract?
As you can see, there is much on the plates of management, players, and fans for that matter of the Purple and Gold over the next five months before the first preseason game tips off.

By far, the biggest issue will be determining the future of Howard, once thought to potentially be the missing link in getting the Lakers their 17th title (tying them with the also aging Boston Celtics).

When he arrived in L.A. this past offseason, Howard came with no surprises, most notably that he was only guaranteed to wear a Lakers uniform for one season. After that, it was anyone’s best guess if he would be back for the 2013-14 season in Purple and Gold.

During a presser following the sweep Sunday, Howard told one reporter that they were “Reading too much into it” when asked if some of his comments meant he was leaning towards coming back to L.A. next season.

As many reports have made clear, Howard is more than willing to listen what some other teams have to offer beginning in July, most notably Atlanta, Houston and Dallas. Despite potential offers, Howard could land the most money (five years at more than $115 million) by staying in Los Angeles.

Missed Free Throws Can’t Be Overlooked
Despite battling his own injury issues the last couple of years (including back surgery), Howard is still a dominant force on the defensive side of the ball.

Where Howard is by far not the most dominant center, however, is on the offensive side of things. Even NBA analyst and former Indiana Pacers star Reggie Miller was seemingly saying Howard can’t be counted on to be the go-to guy late in a game due to his horrific free throw shooting.

So, do the Lakers open up the purse strings and give Howard a max deal, or do they let him go fishing elsewhere, knowing that they are then left (minus a trade) with the likelihood of Pau Gasol or even Earl Clark manning the center post for the time being?

While it was tough given all that happened with this year’s Lakers team to truly see if Howard and Bryant can co-exist for a full season or two, the Lakers will need to be 100 percent certain that Howard is their man for years to come in the center post if they shell out the big dollars.

If Howard’s not the man, then you can bet a number of phones will be ringing around team offices come this summer.

About the Author: With 23 years’ writing experience, Dave Thomas covers a variety of consumer and business topics for different sites, including home protection.

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