Dwight Howard will remain a Laker—at least for the rest of this season.
Ken Berger of CBS Sports tweeted the news on Friday:
Dwight Howard says Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has told him definitively he will not be traded before Feb. 21 deadline.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) February 15, 2013
This confirms a prior report by ESPN insider Chris Broussard, whose sources told him that Howard would not be moved.
Acquired in the offseason in a blockbuster trade, things haven't exactly worked out as anticipated for Howard in L.A. Back surgery slowed the three-time Defensive Player of the Year early on, and shoulder issues have further hurt his production.
Are the Lakers making the right move in not trading Dwight Howard?
Howard is averaging 16.3 points per game, his lowest total since his second NBA season with the Orlando Magic. His 11.8 rebounds per contest are the fewest he has posted since his rookie year.
The Lakers are in the midst of a very inconsistent season and have suffered from a lack of continuity in their lineup, defensive deficiencies and an overall lack of chemistry.
As documented by CBS Sports senior blogger Matt Moore, Howard's fellow high-profile acquisition, point guard Steve Nash, described how difficult it has been to integrate the big man into the game plan:
We'd like to get him in the pick and roll more...I think that's how he was really good in Orlando. He'd pick and he'd dive and they'd swing and put it in to him, so he could get deeper catches and the help side has a more difficult time coming to him.
It's been difficult really to get him into that game -- running into pick and rolls, diving hard, looking for the ball. We really haven't found that rhythm from him yet.
Howard has also clashed with Kobe Bryant, who has repeatedly urged him to play with more of an edge.
As many twists and turns as the Lakers have experienced this season, a prospective trade involving Howard wouldn't have necessarily helped to add stability in their roller-coaster season.
Even though it would seem perplexing for Kupchak to trade Howard after orchestrating a massive deal to land him just months prior, the big man's upcoming free agency was argued as reason enough for seeking a trade. The potential value he would command as trade bait seems tantalizing, but Kupchak ultimately isn't going to pull the trigger.