NBA Rumors: Lakers Smart in Turning Down Suitors for Dwight Howard

Jonathan IrwinContributor IIJanuary 24, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 15:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts to his goaltending during the game against the Milwaukee Bucks 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 have been this season's biggest disappointment, and they continue their struggles to find team chemistry—and wins. And while trading Dwight Howard seems enticing, it's far from worth it.

That's not to say the Lakers are short of suitors. According to a recent ESPN LA report, the Lakers have been constantly turning down GMs calling to inquire on Howard.

In that report, it states that the Lakers don't wish to move Howard before the trade deadline, and that they still believe they can re-sign their center this summer.

Much has been made of the Lakers' struggles, and right now rebuilding probably sounds like a pretty good idea. But such a knee jerk move would certainly set the organization back.

Despite his struggles, the one thing Howard represents is a future for the Lakers.

Kobe Bryant is still dominating the world of basketball, and at 34 years old it looks like he could play forever. Of course, he can't and it could be just a season or two until father time starts to take its hold.

Without Howard, the Lakers have no life after Kobe. There's no marquee player on deck waiting to become the face of this franchise.

All you have to do is look at the Chicago Bulls post-Jordan, or the Boston Celtics post-Bird, to see how damaging it can be to lose a star player without a backup.

Once Bryant inevitably retires, it could be another 5-10 seasons before the Lakers even sniff the playoffs again.

Unless, of course, they keep Howard.

Now, that's easier said than done. The Lakers still have to re-sign the big man, and given how things have gone this season, that won't be an easy task.

But the opportunity is there, and it's going to be a lot better if L.A. holds onto Howard, compared to if they trade him somewhere else. Especially considering the fact that any move would most likely have to be a sign-and-trade.

Trading Howard would help land the Lakers some talent, but chances are it will be far from franchise-defining.

If the Lakers are looking to make a change, moving Pau Gasol would be the best move. He's another another consistent big man, and despite his struggles this season, he can flourish in a different system.

And at 32 years old, he's not getting any younger. While he can be an effective player, his name will never be on the marquee.

Outside of that, the smartest decision is to sit tight.

The Lakers need Howard in the future. It will be some time before a super star like him falls into their laps again.

Unless they want to squander such a gift, the Lakers have to continue to hang up those phones.