Per Steven Marcus of Newsday, the Lakers will not be trading Howard, nor do they have plans to trade any of their "principal" players:
Asked about his remaining options to salvage this season, Kupchak said, "We will not make a trade. We will not trade Dwight Howard. We have no intention of making a trade. It's unlikely that we'll make any trade with any of our principal players. To make another change at this time of the year being behind the eight-ball like we are, I think that would just make it more difficult. The talent is there. We have to find our way."
In case that wasn't clear, Kupchak just dropped the proverbial hammer on all of this Howard business—or rather, nonsense.
From unfounded pleas to trade the big man in exchange for Dirk Nowitzki to supposed anxiety over his impending free agency, Los Angeles has been unable to shield itself from the difficulties that come with housing a sovereign athlete. Until now, that is.
It never made sense for the Lakers to trade Howard—not after they relinquished Andrew Bynum, and certainly not when he's the player whom they intend to build the team around once Kobe Bryant retires.
Nonetheless, many fans and pundits alike still felt strongly that the Lakers should deal the superstar center in favor of a declining, 32-year-old Pau Gasol.
But what if Howard decides to leave? What if he spurns the Lakers over the summer?
Judging by Kupchak's stance, the Lakers aren't worried about that—and rightfully so. You don't trade one of the most dominant young players in the game on a whim, just like you don't ship him out when there's an aging big man that could take his place.
Admittedly, Howard's 16.5 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game may seem relatively unimpressive, and his repeated bouts with injury are disconcerting.
Even amidst such conflict, though, he remains one of only two players in the league (All-Star center Joakim Noah is the other) who is averaging at least 10 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks a night.
How does Kupchak willingly give that up? How does he trade the anchor of an already porous Los Angeles defense? How does he part ways with a top-10 talent who, by all financial and public-image accounts, is likely to re-sign with the Lakers?
He can't. And he won't.