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As long as Kobe Bryant is a Laker, this will be his team.
The Los Angeles Lakers are still Kobe Bryant's team, and they will go only as far as Bryant can take them. Sure, if he ends up re-signing, in the future this will be Dwight Howard's team. But make no mistake, the present time is all about Kobe Bryant.
The Lakers did bring in more talent with Howard, Steve Nash and Antawn Jamison, but they've all got to find a way to co-exist with Kobe, not the other way around.
Take Nash, for example. In Nash, the Lakers have one of the best point guards in the NBA and the team's best point guard since Magic Johnson was running the show. There's no doubt that Nash can be a positive impact on L.A., but he'll need room to run the offense. Ultimately it's up to Kobe to give him that leeway.
The same can be said for Howard. Dwight was looking to go into a situation where he's the cornerstone of a franchise. If he stays, eventually he'll be that in L.A. But as long as Kobe's around, it's Bryant's team.
In order for him to fit in, Howard needs to put his ego aside. On one hand, it seems like an easy enough task for Howard, especially when you consider the potential benefits of him doing so. On the other, Howard hasn't really shown much of an ability to put the franchise above himself lately.
There's also the possibility that Kobe is willing to cede some of his control over the team. With the increased talent surrounding him, now might be the perfect time to do exactly that. But it's going to be up to Bryant to make that choice.
This may be the new-look Lakers, but basically it's the same thing it's been since the start of the 2004-05 season: Kobe's team.
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