UPDATE: Wednesday, Feb. 20, 7:56 p.m. ET by Dan Talintyre
Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak has reportedly told ESPN’s Colin Cowherd that Dwight Howard will not be traded in 2013.
Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak appeared on ESPN’s Colin Cowherd this morning and made it adamantly clear that Dwight Howard is not available in potential trades despite the fact that he was receiving calls on him even up to his appearance on the show.
Kupchak acknowledged that Howard’s relationship with Kobe Bryant is a “work in progress”, but pointed out that Bryant may retire after next season and that the plan is to then build around Howard.
Kupchak also stated that Mike D’Antoni will be the head coach of the team moving forward. However, he did leave an opening by saying that everyone will be reviewed during the offseason.
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The Lakers have struggled to gel as a team and play in coach Mike D'Antoni's system. Expected to be a favorite in the Western Conference, the Lakers are in 10th in the West and currently 3.5 games out of the final playoff spot.
One of the biggest concerns for the Lakers has been figuring out how to use Howard and Pau Gasol to maximize their potential.
The latest talk out of Los Angeles is that the Lakers will not move Howard before the trade deadline. In an interview with Newsday, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak denied a move could happen:
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.
While the Lakers may not have an intention of trading Howard, they should surely listen to calls should they come in from other teams. At this point, it would seem the odds are against the Lakers making a move, but that doesn't eliminate the possibility of a trade occurring.
Howard would be a logical trading piece because of his contract situation and what the Lakers could get in return. Without signing an extension, Howard will be a free agent after the season ends and could leave Los Angeles without the Lakers getting anything for the star center.
Howard has struggled to stay healthy this season, and it is unclear if his back injury is a long-term concern. In addition to his health issues, the fact that he will be a free agent in the summer leaves his status in Los Angeles in flux.
While Howard can make the most money by re-signing with the Lakers, his past should make the Lakers extremely uneasy about heading into the summer with the star center on their roster. The way he handled his departure from Orlando leaves doubt as to what Howard will decide come free agency.
There is plenty left to play out with regard to Howard's future with the Lakers. Perhaps he will stay in Los Angeles following the looming trade deadline and free agency this summer, but that remains to be seen.