Los Angeles Lakers Must Right Ship Now or Brace for Another Dwightmare

Maxwell Ogden@MaxwellOgdenCorrespondent IIIDecember 4, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 02:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts as he is called for a foul during a 113-103 loss to the Orlando Magic at Staples Center on December 2, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers must right the ship now or brace for another Dwightmare. In other words, it's contend for a title or face the wrath of the potential of losing Dwight Howard to free agency.

This comes via D-12's own statements. Doesn't it?

Per your interpretation, John Denton of NBA.com reports that Howard would play for another team if it meant he had a better chance at winning a title. Take a gander at D-12's comments and see how you perceive his choice words.

"You only get one shot. People might not ever understand that, but at the end of the day it’s not their life. You can’t let anybody else dictate how they want your life to be," Howard said. "I only have one shot to play and do something that I love. Not everybody is blessed and have an opportunity to do what they love.

"So I want to do it the best that I can and I’m going to take everything in I can to get what I can out of the NBA. Which, for me, is winning a championship," he added. "So if I have to play on another team or do whatever I have to do to get one, that’s my goal. This is my passion, so I’ll continue to fight."

For a man who has been involved in trade controversy for more than a calendar year, Howard has to know how much weight his comments hold. For that reason, his latest statements can only be perceived in one of the following ways.

Either Howard doesn't care about the media craze, or he genuinely intends on signing with whichever team gives him the greatest opportunity to win a title.

Chances are it is a mix of the two. And rightfully so.


No Obligation to L.A.

Should Dwight Howard opt to leave the Los Angeles Lakers and sign elsewhere during this coming period of free agency, fans will have no reason to feel animosity. In fact, Lakers supporters will have no right to feel anything but disappointment in the L.A. organization.

As for why, look no further than the fact that L.A. traded for D-12 in spite of the fact he would not guarantee his re-signing.

For that reason, this is a season in which the Lakers must prove they are the best team for Howard. Although we'd normally see the situation as the other way around, D-12 has the privilege to be in full control.

A quick turnaround could lead to his re-signing. A failure to prove the Lakers' legitimacy as a championship contender, however, may very well lead to D-12's departure.


Top Target

Howard is likely to become the top target of every team that can afford him come the offseason. For this reason, time is of the essence for the Los Angeles Lakers as they pursue a championship with D-12 in the paint.

As if the aging legs of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace and Antawn Jamison weren't already time concerning.

Once free agency arrives, big-money franchises such as the Dallas Mavericks and Howard's hometown Atlanta Hawks could be in the running. If the Mavs and Hawks are able to prove capable of constructing a contender, the Lakers could lose their luster.

Especially if Howard is joined by younger legs.


Joined by Younger Elite

When Dwight Howard becomes a free agent, he will not be alone. Joining him will be the likes of Chris Paul, Josh Smith and Andre Iguodala.

With big-market teams having cap space and CP3, Smith and Howard all documented as friends, we could see the next Big Three.

If that theory becomes a feasible reality, who is to say that Howard will pass up on said opportunity? With younger players as his teammates, the window of opportunity to win a title certainly grows for D-12 in comparison to playing alongside 30-plus-year-old stars in Los Angeles.

Should the Lakers pull Howard back into the title picture, however, we could see an end to this discussion all together.

Howard's only goal is to end up where he has the best chance to win an NBA championship. After leading the Orlando Magic to consistent contention with virtually no help from upper management, Howard demanded a trade by virtue of his desire for greater results.

If the Lakers can't provide Howard with that opportunity, why would D-12 put himself through the same process all over again? Chances are he would not.


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