Sheridan: Bryant ambivalent on Howard’s future with Lakers

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HOUSTON — If you watched the All-Star game, you gained an appreciation for Kobe Bryant’s defensive determination.

If you stood 3 feet away from him and spoke to him afterward, as I did, you gained a clearer understanding of where he stands on the whole question of what the Lakers should do with Dwight Howard.

And if you read a little into his quotes, you get the feeling that Bryant wouldn’t be surprised in the least, or even bothered, if the Lakers decide to trade the big man before the deadline Thursday afternoon.

“I don’t know what they’re going to do. At this point, it doesn’t matter,”  Bryant said after putting on a signature defensive performance against LeBron James in the West’s 143-138 victory over the East Sunday night in the 2013 NBA All-Star game.

“What matters to us is what we do on Wednesday, and go from there. That’s the most important thing, and that’s my message to the team. We can’t worry about the future, we can’t worry about the past. We have to focus on the present,” Bryant said.

Doesn’t matter?  Hmmm.

You hear a quote like that, and it merits asking a follow-up question — so I put one out there.

Do you think it’s possible Howard might be dealt before the deadline?

“Honestly I really don’t know what the heck is going on with that. and I can’t afford to. It’s a fine line for a player like myself to get involved in that situation, because now you become distracted of what exactly you need to do as a leader with the team you have assembled,” Bryant said. “So instead of wasting my energy thinking about what they might do or what might happen, I have to focus on the pieces that we have and how to reach every single one of them individually to bring out the best in them. If I don’t obsess about that, we can’t get nowhere.”

Not exactly a ringing endorsement of keeping the big fella around, eh?

That’s the way I took it.

I’ve covered Bryant long enough to know when one should and shouldn’t read something into something Kobe says, and on this night — especially after the sour-puss act I saw from Dwight on Friday afternoon — I walked up to my laptop believing it may actually be more likely than not that Jim Buss decides the Dwight experiment has been a failure, and it is time to cut the Lakers’ losses.

Dwight wants to go to Brooklyn. It’s been that way for 2 years, and it ain’t any different now than it has been.

I can guarantee you the Nets are going to pick up the phone sometime between now and Thursday, call the Lakers and ask what they are planning to do. And I’d go so far as to say it’s a 50-50 proposition that Dwight is wearing black and white by next weekend.

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  1. Another reporter manufacturing a story. I know you guys are paid to write about the NBA 24/7 365 but quit stirring the pot….or at least listen and accept what these athletes are saying to you. Kobe is not the GM of the Team, in spite of what he thinks. He doesn’t make personnel decisions..he plays basketball with the players on his Team…that’s it. He may have some influence but stop making this a Kobe vs. Howard issue…this is a Dwight Howard vs. Dwight Howard issue. Nowhere else in the league will he play for a team that can and will assemble talent around him like the Lakers can…and yet this guy is still miserable. Whether Dwight Howard stays or goes is not Kobe’s decision, so it doesn’t matter whether Kobe is ambivalent about it or not. He is forced to play with Howard in the same way he is forced to answer your headline hunting questions.. Chris, its the All Star break, perhaps you should respect the break and stop writing articles for a couple days…or perhaps I should just not read your articles and everybody wins. Good day sir

  2. I don’t think “ambivalent” means what the author thinks it means.

  3. Interesting comment brought up by Zodiac, is Howard still a star? Is he someone who can be the #1 or #1A player on a team that wins a title? Also, if the Lakers are committed to Mike D’Antoni does Howard fit what he does? I honestly don’t know what kind of deals are out there for Howard right now, and I’m guessing they would not get great value back, but I don’t think Howard is a guy who is the first or even second best player on a championship team. Think of him as Bosh, a third wheel star who needs other stars on the team to be the focal point. Problem is Howard’s ego won’t allow this, he thinks of himself as the star, as the Lebron, Kobe, or Durant, but he is mistaken.

    Sometimes the best plan is to admit total failure and move on, and that is what Kobe and Howard on the same team is, total failure.

  4. I hear what you are saying, Chris. But it is important to have one or two stars to build around. It is very difficult to obtain stars. I don’t know if Howard is still a star or is having a bad two years for various reasons. But he sure doesn’t appear to be playing like one. But let’s assume he can get back to the D12 of old. If Kobe is truthful about his 1-2 years left on this mortal basketball earth then the Lakers need someone else to build around so that they don’t go through the 1990s drought between the end of showtime and the Shaq-Kobe era. My view is that Kobe can bitch all he wants about D12 toughness and clown act, but D12 is the future and Kobe is, sorry to say, nearing the past, for better or for worse. Management understands that forward thinking about renewal keeps the Lakers relevant.

    • But at the same time, if the drama king doesn’t want to be in LA, it’s a waste of effort and time towards building that future if he doesn’t want to be here/his heart’s not in it.

  5. It would suck but if they really want to keep Howard, they should just shut it down, eat the lost season and have him have his shoulder surgery now, let his back heal completely so that come next season, he’s 100% and can come out firing on all cylinders.

    That said, even if he was completely healed, every single thing in the world aligned to his liking, Howard strikes me as a guy that’s a complainer and he’ll still have something to say or whine about, even at 100% and a big max deal.

  6. Could you get Noah and Hamilton from the Bulls for Howard?

  7. do the nets want him? They have an all star center, and they have a pg star who is wildly underperforming. The interesting question is what does brooklyn see happening with deron? Two years of awful (not sub par, but awful) play has make them wonder. Lopez is the best player on the team….WHY would they move him`? Howard’s value has taken a big hit, attitude but far more importantly his medical condition. Nobody has missed the catastrophe in Philly with Bynum. I think atlanta would try….but they know he doesnt want to be there. Brooklyn……..well, i think that boat has sailed.

  8. Lakers would have been better off if already out of playoff picture. Now they can’t think clearly. LAL would have to go 20-8 rest of way to finish 4 games above 0.500 at 45-37.
    I see them losing to Boston on Wed, so then they would have to go 20-7.

    The best option for LAL at that point would be to punt season and hope that Boston (going for a last run in East) would trade Rondo for Howard. What would then happen to Nash?

  9. The trade deadline could be Wild, but the reason LAL may not trade Howard, is that they won’t get fair value for him. Nets Refuse to Give up Lopez in an even trade or Via Minny/Love.

    Boston wouldn’t give up Rondo and KG would refuse a trade. Not many other teams would risk renting Howard for 2-3 months.

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