NBA Trade Rumors: Lakers Should Deal Dwight Howard If Struggles Persist

Mike Hoag@MikeHoagJrCorrespondent IIJanuary 23, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 15:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers and Larry Sanders #8 of the Milwaukee Bucks reach for a rebound during a 104-88 Laker win at Staples Center on January 15, 2013 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 just can’t get it together. NBA trade rumors have swirled around Pau Gasol, but they may be shifting towards Dwight Howard, the other man in the middle.

Howard is not in imminent danger of being traded away, but sources from within the organization claim that position could change between now and the NBA’s Feb. 21 trade deadline (h/t ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein).

"I don't think we're at the point where you say, 'It's time for a trade,' and a trade happens in three to four days. That's just not how this league works," GM Mitch Kupchak said, according to ESPN.

Howard isn’t making it easy for the organization to keep turning away potential suitors, either.

He continued his outspokenness in the media after the Lakers’ recent loss to the Chicago Bulls. Following the game he walked around the locker room while pointing at the stat sheet that showed his minuscule five shot attempts.

Howard is clearly unhappy with his role in coach Mike D'Antoni's offense.

An unhappy Howard means trouble for the Lakers. They traded away the future to bring him to Southern California before the season and could be left empty-handed if he chooses to explore new avenues through free agency this summer.

The possibility of him leaving may be stronger than many believe. He did everything that he could to get out of Orlando.

And his exit there wasn't pretty, either.

And it’s a risk for Kupchak and his organization that he can’t afford to make after doing so much to haul in Howard.

If, for some reason, he continues to conflict with his teammates and coach, the team would be wise to at least listen to offers. That’s especially true if the team's struggles on the court persist until the days leading up to the deadline.

“Obviously, this isn’t working,” Kobe Bryant said (h/t ESPN) following the loss to the Bulls.

The Black Mamba’s days are numbered, but he isn’t happy with the way things are going. He won’t be happy until the team starts winning again.

That may not happen, no matter how many lineup changes D’Antoni tries.

It could be a problem with his system or it could be chemistry, as Howard suggested during an interview earlier in January after losing to a cohesive Los Angeles Clippers team.

Whatever it is, like Bryant said, it isn’t working.

The Lakers could be out of the running by Feb. 21 if things continue to trend downwards.

Would moving Howard and getting something for him before his potential summer departure be the best move for the team? In the long run, it’s possibly the best way to go.

Listening to offers now and planning things out will only benefit the Lakers' front office if their minds change in the coming weeks.

They don’t have to pull the trigger, but they should be doing their homework because this situation could go from bad to ugly really quickly if things get out of control, and then Howard walks this summer.