Lakers Rumors: Losing Dwight Howard Would Be a Step in Right Direction

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 26, 2013

Apr 28, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard (12) leaves the court after being ejected with two technical fouls against the San Antonio Spurs in game four of the first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Saying goodbye can be hard to do, except in the case of Dwight Howard and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Fans who loved the "Dwight-mare" of last summer should get prepared, because the sequel is kicking into high gear.

When he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, it was just assumed he'd sign an extension with the team eventually. Well, the season has come and gone, and there's no new deal. Lakers fans are dealing with the very real possibility that Howard's time with the team is already over.

ESPN's Marc Stein reported that the Houston Rockets are the team poised to sign the 27-year-old center.

If the Lakers do in fact lose Howard this offseason, the franchise would be taking a step forward.

Simply put, Howard is not worth a max deal. Given his attitude and talent, he's not the kind of player to whom you commit that much money. Somebody will inevitably give a max deal to the player. Los Angeles should be smart enough to avoid it.

While no doubt a talented player and major star, Howard is limited on the court.

He's a tremendous defender and has three Defensive Player of the Year Awards to prove it. On the other end of the court, though, Howard is simply average. He doesn't have many post moves and is a terrible free-throw shooter.

Throw it all together and you get a slightly better version of Ben Wallace or Tyson Chandler.

When you look at the most talented big men of the past, Howard doesn't stack up. Here's a look at Howard's numbers compared with some of the more recent transcendent centers after they were in the league for nine years.

Granted, the traditional big man is being phased out, but Howard isn't able to impact a game like somebody with his size and talent should.

Some of that is down to his attitude.

You don't want to delve too deep into a player's psyche, because you can never truly know what is going on inside a player's head.

Instead, let's look at some of the more recent events for Howard off the court.

He essentially got Stan Van Gundy fired, then bailed on the Magic after professing how loyal he was to the franchise. Once he was gone, Howard wasn't afraid to throw his teammates under the bus for the Magic's failures in the playoffs.

You could put up with Howard's antics if he were a transcendent player. Unfortunately, he's not. He's a headache that a franchise like the Lakers shouldn't have to put up with.

However, the team is going to great lengths to make Howard feel needed. The Lakers posted pictures on their Twitter account of two billboards they put up to show how much they want the player to stay.

Not to sound too patronizing, but that's something you would've expected the Orlando Magic to do to show their love for Howard last summer, or the Cleveland Cavaliers to do for LeBron James. They don't have hallowed reputations that go back decades, nor do they have the marketing cachet of a bigger-market team.

Organizations like the Lakers shouldn't have to resort to tactics like this.

Mitch Kupchak, Mike D'Antoni and the Buss family should simply point to the rafters of the Staples Center and tell Howard that if he wants to join the likes of Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O'Neal, he should stay in Los Angeles.

If that's not enough to make a player stay, then he's not a player you want. It's better to figure that out now before you lock him into a long-term contract worth a ton of money.