As shallow as the Lakers are on paper, there's no need for them to be living amongst the cellar-dwellers of the NBA. And there's no need to panic about the big man's future in Los Angeles. It can be salvaged.
But while the Lakers have no intention of dealing Howard, the lack of direction in Hollywood is cause for concern for the free-agent-to-be.
I seriously doubt that Howard is going to walk away from the Lakers, the extra year and the $20-plus million more they can offer him. Knowing Howard, departing just wouldn't make sense. He wants to further his brand and there's no better place than Tinseltown (save maybe for New York) for him to do it.
Ignoring his current antipathy for what has transpired thus far, however, is simply not an option either. Concerns must be quelled, responsibilities must be illustrated and a blueprint for success must be laid out.
Only then can the ambiguity surrounding his impending free-agency be eradicated.
And only then will the Lakers have the ability to right this capsizing ship.
*All stats used in this article were compiled from Basketball-Reference, Synergy Sports and 82games.com unless otherwise noted.