Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak has told Dwight Howard he will not be traded before the Feb. 21 trade deadline, according to league sources.
Kupchak recently told Newsday the same thing, saying: "We will not trade Dwight Howard." Sources say Kupchak has told Howard several times that he has no intention of trading him.
The inherent risk in not trading Howard is the fact that he is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season and he could very well move on to another destination.
There is still a good chance that will happen since Howard has shown he's unhappy with his role in head coach Mike D'Antoni's system, as well as the fact that the Lakers are 24-27 and sitting 3.5 games out of the eighth seed for the NBA playoffs.
Howard's numbers haven't exactly turned out to be what we're all used to, either.
D12 is averaging 16.2 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. While those are still solid numbers, his scoring average is at its lowest since the 2005-06 season and his rebound average is the lowest he's posted since his rookie campaign.
Now, you can either chalk that up to Howard's displeasure with his new team or you can blame it on his ailing shoulder. For fans who want to keep Howard, they should hope his down season is a result of the latter.
The fact of the matter is that the Lakers are all in with Howard. They dealt their former franchise center, Andrew Bynum, to acquire Howard over the summer and likely won't get equal return should a trade be considered.
Furthermore, the Lakers have an aging roster whose key players are all in the twilight of their careers and while Kobe Bryant is still playing great, he won't be around forever.
Howard is the one young piece L.A. possesses who it can build around for the future. After Bryant's best days are behind him, D12 can carry the Lakers into the next generation.
On top of that, if Pau Gasol is moved in any way during the offseason and Howard leaves also, the team will be left with no established big men to speak of. In that case, let the rebuilding begin in L.A. unless the team can work it out by bringing in another franchise big man.
But even if they are able to do that, the Lakers won't find anyone with the talents that Howard has. Granted, he isn't having a great season in 2012-13, but when at his best, Howard is the premiere center in the NBA today.
Los Angeles' management looks steadfast in keeping Howard for the rest of this season in the hopes of enticing him to stay with the Lakers long term, and that couldn't be a better idea.