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Will Dwight Howard stay with Lakers after season? Yes. Probably.

Oct 22, 2012, 3:03 PM EST

Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

We didn’t need John Cusack driving across country with Daphne Zuniga to teach us there are no sure things in life. Unexpected twists turn what seem predestined into something all together different every day.

So sure, it is possible that come next summer when Dwight Howard becomes a free agent he will choose not to re-sign with the Lakers. Maybe the Kobe Bryant and Howard relationship blows up mid-season. Maybe Steve Nash goes Gilbert Arenas in Howard’s shoe. Maybe a lot of things. But none of them are likely.

You should bet that Dwight Howard will sign a max free agent contract with the Lakers next summer (it is financially in his interest to become a free agent then re-sign rather than extend, thank you new CBA). He stays in L.A.

Nobody around him is saying it’s a certainty, because you don’t want to paint yourself into a corner, but all the whispers out of the usually talkative Howard camp are that he wants to remain a Laker. He has hinted in tweets he isn’t going anywhere.

The Lakers have a few things on their side in keeping Dwight. One is guaranteed money — they have Howard’s Bird rights and can offer larger raises and a fifth guaranteed year on his contract. No other team could do that. And while the money isn’t enough to keep him if he wanted out, an extra locked in year is a nice bit of stability.

Second, the Lakers in Los Angeles can offer the kind of exposure, the kind of marketing opportunities other markets (outside New York) simply cannot. Howard likes the spotlight, he wants to be loved by fans, and he wants to do television and movies. While he’d be smart to keep his head down for a little bit and just play basketball after how his move out of Orlando hurt his PR, the Lakers can offer him a stage few other teams can.

The Lakers can also offer a chance at a ring. For the next two seasons at least, the Lakers will be considered serious title contenders. There is still the mountain to climb that is Miami, and getting by the Thunder will be far from easy, but the Lakers are talking titles right now. Then in two summers the Lakers have the opportunity to restructure the roster again around Howard (and Steve Nash for one more season) with a lot of cap space. Howard is not going to land in a spot where he is more likely to win titles.

Finally, there is the image issue. Howard damaged his brand with his terrible handling of how he left the Orlando Magic. When people are saying you handled your exit worse than LeBron James, you did it very wrong. But how you fix that image is to win games on the court and be likeable off it (Howard doesn’t have the personality to go with the Kobe Bryant “go ahead and hate me, I don’t care” attitude). To start a free agent bidding process this summer is to stir up all the muck that is just starting to settle. The smart move is to stay in Los Angeles and win rings. Ask Kobe and LeBron what that can do for your image.

With all that stacked up, it’s difficult to see Howard bolting Los Angeles this summer to play for the Mavericks or another side with cap space.

Never say never. But from the word out of his camp to just plain logic, it’s hard not to see him staying with the Lakers.

  1. spthegr8 - Oct 22, 2012 at 4:08 PM

    It would be in his BEST interest to stay in LA. Big market and the best front office in the league. What more could he want?? I would highly doubt he goes anywhere.

    • mrhney03 - Oct 22, 2012 at 4:38 PM

      washington?

  2. dalucks - Oct 22, 2012 at 4:17 PM

    Are you going to write the same story after every Laker game this season?
    Also, as a Laker fan, I have to admit. I was not impressed with the debut of Dwight Howard. His 19 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks is a stat line that Andrew Bynum produced. It is hard to expect more from Dwight when he has less skill than Andrew.

    • mannyfresh209 - Oct 22, 2012 at 4:29 PM

      So after his first game back from back surgery posting a double/double wasn’t impressive? You, sir, are a high-maintenance diva.

      • mannyfresh209 - Oct 22, 2012 at 4:31 PM

        I’m a Warriors/LeBron James fan, BTW. Hate the Lakers. Hate that Orlando let Dwight GO to the Lakers, while getting next to NOTHING in return. Hate the Lakers even more after writing/thinking about that last sentence I wrote. Still think Dwight’s debut was impressive.

    • joshm5683 - Oct 22, 2012 at 4:47 PM

      The stat line itself wasn’t that impressive you are right, however the point that while watching it, it was definitely a different game than if Bynum had been back there. Bynum never got 2 or more jumps at a rebound or blocking a shot, guys would come off Bynum to help close the line, not to mention everytime Bynum jumped, as a Lakers fan you cringed everytime he landed…….Bynum deserves to be in the talk as best center in the game right now and he has worked hard for it, but the fact is still Howard is a better player and more feared as a defender than Bynum ever will be.

    • camnellum12 - Oct 22, 2012 at 9:53 PM

      I was impressed by Dwight’s return since April, he seems to be in solid form, but you weren’t wrong for saying Bynum has the better skill set. ‘Drew had plenty of nights where he’d get the ball 13-14 times and have 30+ points. The Kings already knew that if they literally held Howard, best chance he’s going to make 1 FT. Dwight Howard is the better player, but Andrew Bynum is the better center, if that makes since…

  3. fanz928 - Oct 22, 2012 at 4:21 PM

    He has more heart and athletic over bynum

  4. rocirius - Oct 22, 2012 at 5:31 PM

    It is on record that he wants to play with Deron Williams so that they can try to create their own legacy. He will force a sign and trade to Brooklyn and the Lakers will end up with Robin (Lopez) to go with Kobe’s Batman.

  5. dalucks - Oct 22, 2012 at 5:46 PM

    After reading those comments after my admission that I was not impressed by Dwight Howard remains the same. Coming off the back injury is just a built in excuse in case he stinks it up. If the best center in the NBA can only score 19 points is not impressive. First, it solidifies that the center position in the NBA is pathetically weak and secondly, his skill level still has not improved. Jumping twice for a rebound is not a skill nor is getting dunked on by rookie Thomas Robinson.
    Being the best in a weak group does not mean you are great, it means that you are average at best.

    • ludachrisgsx - Oct 23, 2012 at 1:17 PM

      LOL, ou’re a Lakers fan – yeah right. You’re telling me that a David Robinson or any other great center would have fared that much better in their first game back after having back surgery and being out 6 months? And not just his first game back, but in a new city with a new team, in a completely new system with new teammates and coaches? The guy hit his career average numbers in a preseason game where he played fewer minutes than his career average, with guys he has no chemistry with yet. Would Drew have had a better first game back in that scenario? I seriously doubt it but I guess we’ll see when he comes back from his latest injury issue. We’ll see if he defends the paint as well as Howard did in his first game back. ;)

      Lakers fans had plenty to be excited about after watching Howard’s debut. The only bad thing about Howard is that he can’t be a starter AND a bench player for the team.

  6. misterdreamer119 - Oct 22, 2012 at 6:42 PM

    He stays.

  7. chicagofan - Oct 22, 2012 at 6:52 PM

    Hollywood,Hollywood!! Of course he is staying, where else would he go?

  8. spthegr8 - Oct 22, 2012 at 6:53 PM

    @dalucks
    You don’t judge what he does by, how many point’s he score’s. We don’t need him to score 30 a game. We need him to control the paint, hit the boards and be the defensive MONSTER he is. He is the BEST defensive in the WORLD. The impact that he has on the game CAN NOT be measured by looking @ the box score. The box score won’t show how many shot’s he alter’s and the fact that, regardless of WHO you are. When you get close to the paint area. You look and find #12!!!!!!!!

  9. mannyfresh209 - Oct 22, 2012 at 8:53 PM

    Bynum had a CAREER year last year….averaged what? 17/14? That’s an OFF YEAR for Howard.

  10. paulhargis53 - Oct 22, 2012 at 9:37 PM

    Howard’s career averages are 18ppg and 13ppg……

    I’m sure when Bynum was on the Lakers you were arguing the other way….

  11. somekat - Oct 23, 2012 at 12:21 AM

    Out of the big 3 in the trade (Bynum, Howard, Iguoldala), the only one that may not stay long term is Iggy. He won’t take his option next year, he won’t make that much the following year as a FA. But he could walk after 2 (either by his choice, or mutual). Bynum and Howard will be in Philly/LA long term without a doubt

  12. pistolpete0903 - Oct 23, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    In LA, Dwight doesn’t have to be the offense option (heck he can be the 4th option as I see right now). With a line-up of Nash, Gasol and Kobe; the Lakers don’t have to worry about his offense. Heck him patrollling the paints and bringing down the rebounds is what he was bought to LA for. And even the most D12 hater has to admit that his rebounding and defense is much much better than Bynum.

    Fun part comes in couple of years when they don’t have Nash, Kobe is waning, Gasol has been probably shipped out and he becomes the franchise face. That’s when we see how D12 responds.

    I still see him signing a new contract with the Lakers next year (but probably a short one)

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