The closer we get to the deadline of the decision Dwight Howard needs to make, the Los Angeles Lakers are realizing that their approach to the matter (using Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash to challenge Howard) or possibly it was a lost fight from the first moment.
Suddenly, a sign-and-trade is on the table, either with the Golden State Warriors, willing to give up quite a lot in order to get Dwight Howard, or with the Houston Rockets, willing to give Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin over.
But while the Lakers are conceding defeat, it’s also interesting to see where they went wrong through the process, treating Howard like he was a player in awe of the franchise’s history, not realizing that they might not have deal with him correctly over the last season.
The question of whether Howard is too pampered and soft doesn’t belong. If the Lakers’ main goal going into the offseason was re-signing Howard, they should have read the signs on the wall, which said that Howard wasn’t happy with the Lakers.
Not with the head coach Mike D’Antoni and his system, which didn’t fit Howard’s need and demand for the ball while spreading it to shooters when necessary, like it worked for him in Orlando, and not with Kobe Bryant.
The automatic response in Southern California and among most NBA fans is that Bryant is right in this whole ordeal – his intensity is what should be matched, and this is his team until he retires. But Bryant publicly lashed out at Howard last season when Dwight was going through a shoulder injury, and led more teammates along with him to call the center out. Howard came back, playing less than 100% (Bryant isn’t the only player who can do that), and waited for his chance to show the Lakers how he feels.
Each team met with Howard and gave their future plans with him. The Rockets, Mavericks, Hawks, Warrios and the Lakers. What did the Lakers do to convince Howard to stay? According to sources, which is probably an agent or low ranking team official, both Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash told Dwight Howard that he needs to toughen up, and learn from a player like Bryant, who has already won.
They forgot he has a better chance of winning playing for the Warriors or the Rockets, and that Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion are also NBA champions. It’s easy to forget when you’re stuck in an ivory tower and ignore the painful truth – that the Lakers are old, and not going anywhere, even with Howard, next season.
No decision has been made yet, but another season of playing next to Kobe Bryant, and the extra $30 million and fifth season the Lakers can offer doesn’t seem so attractive for Howard, who’ll probably get another huge contract after the next four seasons as well, as long as he stays healthy. When you dissect his options, the Lakers don’t have a single thing to offer him other teams don’t already have.
More? None of the other teams treat him like they’re doing him a favor by keeping him. Howard wants to win, but he wants to be treated like a star, and next to Kobe Bryant, with the current head coach, that isn’t going to happen.