The Dwightmare isn’t over—it’s only been stalled.
In the 2012-2013 NBA campaign, Dwight Howard’s name won’t surface in a single trade rumor. But while Howard has a home on the Los Angeles Lakers for now, he isn’t handcuffed to Hollywood forever. If this season doesn’t go smoothly, D12 could silence all dynasty talk and abandon ship next summer.
ESPN's Marc Stein tweeted a few reports that should give Laker Nation the bad kinda butterflies.
ESPN source says Dwight definitely NOT doing extension with Lakers. Will test drive Lakerland for season and go to free agency in July 2013— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) August 10, 2012
If L.A. does not work out for Dwight, says source briefed on his thinking, he knows "Dallas will be there for him." Mavs will have cap space— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) August 10, 2012
Now, as you can imagine, for it to “not work out” in L.A., the Lakers would have to implode.
I’ll probably play two or three more years. Then the team is his (Howard’s). I’m excited for the Lakers franchise. Because this is a guy who can carry the franchise well after I’m gone. So it should be his. He should be willing to accept the challenge.
What would have to happen for Howard to spurn the Lakers with not only a legitimate shot at winning a ring today, but the keys to the franchise being delivered to his doorstep tomorrow?
Howard isn’t feuding with Pau Gasol. The Spaniard is too unselfish—he accepted a reduced role in 2012 to allow Andrew Bynum to blossom.
He wouldn’t feud with Nash. Howard is the best pick-and-roll big in the league, and he finally has a top-notch floor general to get him the basketball. Throw in the fact that Nash is the most likable player in the league, and that relationship wouldn’t rock the boat.
Kobe, on the other hand, obviously could blow it. I don’t expect him to—after all, he seems to love the acquisition of Superman. But even though he’s far more mature than when he feuded with the other Superman, I wouldn’t put it past Mr. Bryant—especially if Howard doesn’t want to wait for him to retire to be “the man.”
There’s also the whole Mike Brown thing.
Shaquille O’Neal said last year that LeBron James never listened to Brown when they were on the Cleveland Cavaliers. Of course, that was supposed to be an issue with Bryant and Brown in LA, and it wasn’t.
But Kobe hasn’t feuded with a coach for a while now—Howard is coming off the Stan Van Gundy debacle. While no one on the outside truly knows if Howard got SVG fired, he didn’t exactly show the utmost respect for him either.
So basically, as long as Howard, Bryant and Brown stay out of each other’s hair, Los Angeles will be talking dynasty for the next several years. It would take a meltdown of historic proportions (kind of like the Lakers’ in 2004) for Howard to say, “I’d rather run with Mark Cuban and his one ring than the most-winning franchise in NBA history.”
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.