The Los Angeles Lakers have been surrounded by uncertainties throughout the 2012-13 NBA season, but the organization has allegedly made one thing clear: Dwight Howard will remain a Laker for the duration of the campaign.
According to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, two teams inquired about the superstar center’s availability, but they were quickly rebuffed. It sends a message that he is simply untouchable, and the Lakers have elected to sink or swim with D12.
For those who've called the Lakers on Howard's availability – the Dallas Mavericks and the Atlanta Hawks – the message has been unmistakable: Howard isn't available, nor will that change before the February deadline
Wojnarowski is inferring that because these franchises were turned away, that Howard is unavailable. However, if the Lakers continue to falter—especially with the Feb. 21 trading deadline drawing near—anything could happen.
When it comes to a team facing a situation as desperate and grim as Los Angeles, no scenario is too far-fetched to rule out.
At 17-25, coming off a fourth loss in a row and sinking to a pitiful 2-10 since New Year’s Day, it’s clear that this grand experiment that Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak and team executive Jim Buss cooked up over the summer just isn’t working.
The locker room tension reportedly reached a head on Wednesday morning, when a team-only meeting was held to clear the air. According to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, a source found that the players “went at each other,” culminating with Kobe Bryant bluntly asking Howard if he enjoyed playing with him.
It’s unknown exactly how Howard responded, but it’s apparent the Black Mamba sent a message. A witness noted that the D12 did not go back at Kobe, and the big man seemed somber and remorseful when he spoke with reporters after the meeting.
It’s clear that Howard and Kobe have a tenuous chemistry at best, Steve Nash doesn’t resemble anything close to the yearly MVP candidate he was in Phoenix, coach Mike D’Antoni is wildly overmatched, and the bench fails to contribute on a regular basis.
The Lakers could very well miss the playoffs, sitting 15.5 games out of first place in the Western Conference. They have been assigned an 18.5 percent chance to make the postseason, according to John Hollinger.
To add insult to injury, Howard is set to become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.
What should the Lakers do with Howard?
If he chooses to take his talents elsewhere, L.A. will have gambled and come up empty in the blockbuster trade to acquire the big man last summer. In that trade, the Lakers lost a player many thought would take the reins of the franchise upon Bryant’s retirement (Andrew Bynum).
There’s still time to right this ship—as the Lakers brass has likely made the right decision in holding onto their best cards for the second half of the season—but time is running out.