With the Los Angeles Lakers acquiring Steve Nash, speculation has turned to Dwight Howard joining the team. But Kobe Bryant's refusal to be part of the solution is making him part of the problem for the Lakers.
Nash joining the Lakers developed very quickly, and a Monday phone call between Bryant and his new teammate was likely one big reason the deal materialized.
Adding D12 would instantly make the Lakers one of a few favorites to win a championship in 2013. But Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports is reporting that Kobe Bryant is not taking an active role in convincing the disgruntled Orlando Magic star to add the Lakers to his list of preferred teams.
A big part of Bryant's reluctance to have a conversation with Howard is a sense of loyalty to Andrew Bynum.
Wojnarowski reports that Bryant would accept Howard as a teammate but won't be an active part of convincing Howard to work out a sign-and-trade deal with the Lakers.
It is easy to applaud Bryant's support of his teammate. However, there are a franchise, 10 other players and an eager fanbase that he must also consider.
A trade that sends Bynum to Orlando for Howard would improve the organization as a whole.
Wojnarowski's article also addresses an uneasy conversation Bryant had with Howard several months ago. Apparently, there was a clear disconnect on how Howard wanted the offense to run versus Bryant's expectations.
The addition of Nash makes it likely that Kobe is correct in expecting the offense to run through the backcourt and that Howard wouldn't be as big a part of the offense as he'd like.
But the addition of Nash gives the Lakers the kind of point guard that has pushed Howard towards joining Deron Williams and the Brooklyn Nets.
Howard might not get as many scoring opportunities in Los Angeles, but he'd certainly get the salary and exposure he needs to round out endorsement deals. The Los Angeles and the Laker markets would be very attractive to Adidas, not to mention countless other suitors.
By acquiring Nash, the Lakers have shown they are focused on winning now. While Bynum certainly doesn't hurt the team, he won't help the way Howard would.
Howard is also a much better option to be the face of the franchise once Bryant retires.
It is time for Bryant to step up and help his franchise acquire the talent they need to compete in the immediate future and thrive in the long term. Perhaps Nash's maturity and professionalism can be a part of the equation, but the ball is now in Kobe's hands.
For the sake of his franchise, he needs to be willing to pass it to Howard.
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