Who Needs Who More: Lakers or Dwight Howard?

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IMay 29, 2013

SAN ANTONIO, TX - APRIL 24:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts after being fouled against the San Antonio Spurs during Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on April 24, 2013 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Dwight Howard may choose to sign with the Dallas Mavericks or Houston Rockets during the NBA's free-agency signing period, but if Howard does choose to take his talents anywhere else besides Los Angeles, then the depths of his cowardly nature will be exposed.

Of course, Howard reserves the right to take his abilities wherever he chooses, according to the NBA's new Collective Bargaining Agreement, but how would Howard explain an escape from L.A. to browner pastures?

Texas' tax law, Mark Cuban and the prospects of playing with James Harden or Dirk Nowitzki must be appealing to Howard, but these are the Lakers, and when it comes to basketball, things are much bigger in Los Angeles.

I'm well aware that every NBA team from Texas has managed to win a Finals series, but the Lakers can still double that bet with change to spare.

In other words, the Lakers have won twice as many championships as the whole state of Texas, and Howard's decision will have no bearing on this.

Success in Texas is appreciated, but excellence in Los Angeles is expected.

And Howard has proved that he'd much rather be appreciated as a player than critiqued as a star.

In Texas, Howard can flex his muscles and flash his grin while backing up Harden or Nowitzki, but in L.A., there has to be a little substance behind the posturing.

It's easy to strike a pose and smile when responsibility is laid at someone else's feet, but it's very hard to hide in Hollywood.

A season with the Lakers has already revealed that Howard has no offensive post game, poor hands and a level of maturity that rivals Andrew Bynum's.

So why exactly would the Lakers need Howard more than Howard needs the Lakers?

Howard is a great center but not Los Angeles great, and while he has a movie star's presence, Howard is shallow underneath.

Doesn't it speak volumes that no one would really be surprised if Howard left the Lakers, even though he would rank as the highest profile free agent in franchise history to ever jump ship?

Lakers fans seem disturbed about the chances of losing Howard this summer, but is a core of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol really that bad, especially when you consider that 2014 looks pretty good for the Lakers?

Whether Howard re-signs or not, the Lakers will likely have a little money to spend in the next couple of seasons, and history has shown that the franchise has no problem with attracting talent.

The Lakers will still be the Lakers long after Howard has retired, but his legacy has yet to be determined, while the Lakers' is written in stone.

Ironically, the Lakers' championship legacy has been shaped by players who have manned the very position that Howard now occupies, and unsurprisingly, Howard doesn't measure up to the Kareems, Wilts and Shaqs (or even Gasol) in skill, intelligence or heart.

If Howard does choose to leave the Lakers, many of his fans will cite Kobe, head coach Mike D'Antoni and other excuses, but few will mention talent and the curse of expectations.

The venue may change for Howard, but the cowardice and indecisiveness will remain. At the end of the day, how much does Howard's decision really mean for the Lakers?

The Lakers will actually save money if Howard does decide to leave, and if history is any type of teacher, how much will his absence really matter?

The Lakers were much worse off when their last real center left in the summer of 2004, and at least he won a few titles before he departed.