That's because even though Howard is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in 2013, there's virtually no scenario imaginable that would see the 26-year-old superstar leave Tinseltown just one year after his much-ballyhooed arrival.
In order to acquire Howard, the Lakers were forced to part ways with arguably the second-best center in the game in Andrew Bynum, and they wouldn't have done so if the team's GM Mitch Kupchak wasn't supremely confident in his ability to retain the services of the man known as D12.
According to Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register, the Lakers' chances of re-signing Howard played a major role in their decision to deal Bynum, an up-and-coming star, in order to acquire an established one:
The Lakers were always confident Howard would re-sign with them given who and where they are, besides how much more they can offer than any other club. Other teams interested in Howard were understandably worried that Howard might leave via free agency a year from now—and therefore cautious in what they offered.
Not only can the Lakers give Howard an opportunity to contend for a title, which is presumably of the utmost importance to him, but they're also able to offer him more money and a longer term than any other team in the league.
With the Lakers, Howard will get the opportunity to play with a world-class supporting cast featuring Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash and Metta World Peace, which is something he can't possibly find anywhere else.
Unless Howard doesn't like the thought of being able to compete for a title year-in and year-out until Bryant's knees finally break down, or decides that accepting the richest contract available to him isn't on his agenda, his signature will be on a new contract with the Lakers in the summer of 2013.