They call him Superman, and his defensive abilities (almost 1,400 blocks for his career), his strong inside scoring (20.6 PPG last season) and rebounding (14.5 in 11-12) are all things the Lake Show is glad to finally have after numerous back-and-forth talks with Howard.
The biggest question about Dwight that remains, though, is whether he will sign a contract extension. After the 2012-2013 season is over, he will be a free agent if he has not signed a deal.
A deciding factor for Howard is simple—the team is getting old, and he does not want to be a part of another franchise in a "rebuilding" phase.
"That's a long time to be playing," Bryant said. "It'll be the last year of my contract. I don't know if I will play any longer than that."
Bryant is a major competitor, and if he can get that sixth championship ring, I think that will help ease him off the playing court into a nice, relaxing retirement.
New point guard Steve Nash, 38, signed a three-year contract with LA. But at the end of that, he will be 41 years old. Just this past season, his steadily declining minutes-per-game were his lowest since the '99-'00 season. Although he's an MVP, Nash cannot possibly play at his highest level at 40 years old.
Another new acquisition, Antawn Jamison, 36, signed a veteran's one-year contract for the season. The 14-year player has never even been in a conference final. This last year is championship or bust for Jamison.
Our favorite crazy player, Metta World Peace (Ron Artest), 32, has two years left on his Lakers contract. He always plays tough defense, but the fact is that his field-goal percentage was the second-lowest of his career this past season. His 7.7 PPG was the absolute lowest he has ever recorded. A drop in productivity with his age becoming a factor means L.A. won't likely ink a new deal for him.
The last of the older players from the Lakers is Pau Gasol, who has been a disappointment in recent playoff appearances. With two years on his contract, nobody knows his true future, because for the past two offseasons, the team has tried to trade him away unsuccessfully. At 32 years old, with his toughness being questioned as of late, Gasol may not even be with the team this season.
So will Dwight Howard sign a long-term deal with the team? No, I don't think he will.
Most of these players understand that realistically this is the final chance to win a championship in their careers. With so many contracts expiring plus an increasing age on the roster, Howard knows a long-term deal would land him right back where he started—with a 'promising' team in a rebuilding stage.
If the Lakers come out on top in the next NBA Finals, it's possible Dwight Howard may look to stay with the franchise for one, maybe two more years, depending on Kobe Bryant's decision to retire. But as of now, I just don't see D12 signing a long-term extension with the ever-popular Lake Show.
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