He doesn’t want to live up to the championship standard the 16 banners above him represent. And the outcome of getting nothing in return is unacceptable let alone a complete debacle.
As a business professional looking to make your next hire, would you select the candidate that doesn’t really want to work for you? They have a great resume and unmistakable talent, but they only came in because there aren’t currently any openings at their dream job down the road. There’s a strong possibility that they might bolt at a moments notice. Would you hire that guy?
This is not to say that the Lakers should be looking to dump Howard for pennies on the dollar. That would be facetious and potentially just as fatal to the franchise as letting him walk. His talent alone warrants a decent sized haul, and they should be exploring their options. There will always be a buyer for potential as great as Howard, one that just might be enticing enough to preserve this season, or the next. Because it is clear that what they are working with now just isn’t going to work.
According to a story reported by Jarrod Rudolph of RealGM yesterday, the Brooklyn Nets are preparing to make another run at Howard. Rudolph claims Nets GM Billy King has been closely monitoring the Lakers struggles and believes Dwight can be had for the right price. That price most likely is a superstar caliber player that will be a long-term asset to the Lakers. Billy King believed that player to be Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves, a Los Angeles native, a former UCLA Bruin and a star big man with an unparalleled skillset. Of course, the proposal was shelved when Love was sidelined for 8-10 weeks with a broken hand.
SheridanHoops own Mark Heisler believes that the Lakers should take a strong look into trading Howard back to his hometown Atlanta Hawks for Josh Smith. Howard and Smith, as the cornerstone pieces of the trade, would make sense in basketball terms. Smith is the athletic forward who can run in Mike D’Antoni’s coveted system and help spread the floor for Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol to go to work.
But of course there is more at play with Howard than just “basketball,” as there always seems to be. Is it too soon to give up on Dwight? Is he committed to making it work in LA? Would Dwight resign with Atlanta, or another suitor? Would Josh Smith – an unrestricted free agent at seasons end – resign with LA? Lakers management is going to need some candor out of Howard either way, something they aren’t likely to get.
With the NBA’s February 21 trade deadline looming, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has a franchise altering decision to make. In an interview with ESPN on Tuesday Kupchak gave his blessing to D’Antoni while urging him to adjust to his personnel. It seems as if he would prefer to keep both Howard and D’Antoni, obviously.
Being at the forefront of the decision to roll the dice on Howard in the first place, Kupchak clearly did not want to come off as a naysayer.
Until, of course, it becomes clear that yes was the wrong answer.
Ben Baroff is an aspiring sports journalist and marketing professional who blogs and writes columns for SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter.