At least for the remainder of this season.
Asked about his remaining options to salvage this season, Kupchak said, “We will not make a trade. We will not trade Dwight Howard. We have no intention of making a trade. It’s unlikely that we’ll make any trade with any of our principal players. To make another change at this time of the year being behind the eight-ball like we are, I think that would just make it more difficult. The talent is there. We have to find our way.”
Through 43 games, Howard is averaging 16.5 points (down from 20.6), 11.9 rebounds (down from 14.5), and 2.6 blocks a game. While his numbers are still impressive, there is no denying that he’s seen a drop in production since his arrival to Los Angeles.
Howard suffered a torn labrum back in January that caused him to miss some games. He’s experienced lingering effects from a back surgery he received during the summer of last year, as well as shoulder issues that are keeping him out of action at the present time.
With the Lakers horribly underachieving with a record four games under .500 at 22-26 (10th in the Western Conference), perhaps a big trade before the February 21st deadline could somehow salvage their season.
It’s easy to come up with reasons as to why Dwight could/should be the guy sent packing. On top of his many injuries, Howard will become an unrestricted free-agent this offseason. He has yet to fully commit to the Lakers franchise, so there’s a very good chance that he could walk and leave the team with nothing in return, even though L.A could pay him a handsome sum.
While Mitch Kupchak has now publicly come out and let it be known that Howard is not on the trading block, I find it hard to believe that if a reasonable enough offer came along that improved this team at the expense of dealing Dwight, that he wouldn’t strongly consider it.
His health is a major red flag. His attitude and character are constantly being brought into question.
However, when he’s healthy and his head’s on straight, Dwight Howard is clearly the number one center in the NBA.
He’s one of two players (Joakim Noah) in the league that’s currently averaging over 10 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks a game.
That’s a tremendous asset to have.
To make a long story short, are Mitch Kupchak and the Lakers organization doing the right thing in keeping (supposedly) Dwight Howard for the rest of the season?
In my opinion….
Yes and no. It’s the easy answer, but it’s also the correct one.
If the Lakers have some sort of inkling that Howard won’t walk this summer, then by all means, keep him.
The safe bet is on Dwight signing a new contract with Los Angeles, but considering his history of flip-flopping on major career decisions, you can never be too sure.
Putting injuries to the side for just a moment, there is absolutely no reason as to why this team should be as worse off as they are. There is a huge possibility that the Lakers won’t even make the postseason, and that’s just unheard of considering the talent (healthy or not) on this roster.
Failure is not an option.
Kupchak will do what is in the best interest of his basketball team, whether that means dealing Dwight or keeping him around and taking the wait-and-see approach.