Dwight Howard Would Be Wise to Avoid Return to Los Angeles Lakers

Alex BallentineFeatured ColumnistJune 27, 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

When Dwight Howard joined the Los Angeles Lakers organization last season, visions of Larry O'Brien trophies danced in their heads. Now, one year later, it's time for him to go. 

According to Chris Broussard of ESPN, the big man is not likely to re-sign with the Lakers this offseason. 

The buzz surrounding Howard's arrival in Los Angeles was justified. After all, he was coming off of a season with Orlando in which he averaged 20.6 points and 14.5 rebounds on his way to being named on the All-NBA first team for the fifth time in his career. 

Throw in the addition of Steve Nash, and it appeared that the Lakers had the next great "Big Three" with Nash, Howard and Kobe Bryant all in the same starting five. And that's without considering four-time All-Star Pau Gasol. 

However, those pieces looked much better on paper than they did on the court. The Lakers constantly battled injuries last season, but they also battled a lack of chemistry. Howard's numbers dipped in every major statistical category (except for blocks) and Gasol's lack of touches in the paint resulted in a career-low in points (13.7 points per game). 

Most importantly, the Lakers went just 45-37 before being swept out of the first round in the playoffs. Those are the kind of results that are frowned upon in Los Angeles. 

So where does Howard go from here?

If he wants to continue to be considered elite and chase titles, it can't be a return to Los Angeles. At least as long as head coach Mike D'Antoni is around. 

As Chris Broussard reports, Howard has an issue with the former Phoenix Suns coach's system, an up-tempo philosophy that doesn't necessarily suit a starting lineup with two seven-footers that can score in the post. 

Howard must choose the place that will give him the best opportunity to contend for an NBA title. Despite the talent that is in Los Angeles—the core of Bryant, Gasol and Nash can still be successful—it's unlikely that they will ever succeed playing together. 

Howard led the Orlando Magic to an NBA Finals appearance against the Lakers in 2009. That team was made up of sharp shooters with a coach that understood how to utilize Howard offensively. Finding a team that is willing to do the same should be Howard's top priority this offseason.