Per Chris Broussard and Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com, the Lakers are "very confident" that Howard will re-sign with Los Angeles upon season's end:
Sources have told ESPNLosAngeles.com's Ramona Shelburne that the Lakers are "very confident" Howard will remain with the team this summer.
Howard has steadfastly refused to reveal his plans for this summer, and sources say he truly does not know what he will do. The sources add that he definitely will not ask to be traded.
As Broussard and McMenamin note, there will be no shortage of suitors for Howard come this summer —yet Los Angeles remains at ease. Of all the possible destinations, the Houston Rockets seem to be the most threatening:
Of the Lakers' three free-agent competitors, Houston appears to be the most favorable for Howard. Dallas is aging, and Howard is not keen on playing in his hometown of Atlanta. Houston, on the other hand, has star guard James Harden and is only a frontcourt star away from becoming a legitimate factor in the Western Conference.
While Howard had no interest in going to Houston last season, sources say he is aware the Rockets have become a more attractive destination since acquiring Harden.
Houston is hardly the market that Los Angeles is, but the Rockets have plenty of cap space, a budding superstar in James Harden and the ability to chase Howard's buddy Josh Smith as well. To that end, considering Houston a moderate threat would be a massive understatement.
Still, the Lakers are "confident." Not only do they present a larger stage to play on, but they can offer Howard one year and roughly $30 million more than any other team.
Is Howard about forgo the job and financial security that comes with that extra year? Is he about to take less money now that his durability is being questioned? Is he about to spurn Hollywood for the increased equivocality of play in Houston or anywhere else?
Not at all, or at least that's what the Lakers believe. Otherwise, the "Trade Dwight Howard!" cries wouldn't be so readily ignored and subsequently dismissed.
After all, though the Lakers have more than a few reasons to worry about Howard's future, they also have 30 million additional reasons to believe he isn't going anywhere.
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