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Steve Nash says he wants Dwight Howard back with the Lakers

Apr 30, 2013, 2:49 PM EDT

Lakers' Howard and Nash walk up the floor during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Pacers in Indianapolis

The biggest question facing the Lakers this summer isn’t the health of Kobe Bryant, and if he’ll be able to make it back in time for the start of next season.

Undoubtedly, it’s whether or not Dwight Howard will decide to return to Los Angeles.

Bryant is the Lakers’ most important player, obviously. But next season will be his 18th in the league, so he’s likely to only be around for another couple of years at most. Howard, meanwhile, is in the prime of his career, and has the option to sign a max contract that will keep him in purple and gold for the next five seasons.

The Lakers want to build around Howard moving forward into its post-Bryant era, and they need an All-Star level player just like him who would embrace being the future face of the franchise. Most see the combination of the team and its big market city as a perfect situation for Howard to settle into for the long haul, and that includes Steve Nash.

From Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:

“I’m very hopeful that Dwight will be back,” Nash said Monday. “I think this is the place for him. He’s in the prime of his career. He’s got his best years ahead of him. He can play for one of the greatest franchises in sports and an amazing city. This has got to be the place for him and I’m hopeful that he sees it that way.”

Howard, 27, becomes a free agent in July, able to sign a five-year, $118-million deal with the Lakers or a four-year, $88-million deal with someone else.

While the $30 million difference in guaranteed money may seem like an incentive to stay (and it is), it won’t be the main factor in Howard’s decision.

Playing for the Lakers is anything but easy, given the championship level of expectations that are rightfully heaped upon the players’ shoulders season after season. The team does everything it can to assemble a roster capable of winning a championship every single year, and as we saw this season, when things aren’t going as planned, it can be especially draining for the team’s superstars.

Howard said this year was “like a nightmare,” remember, so whether or not he wants to deal with the possibility of failed expectations in Los Angeles — where every season is literally championship or bust — will weigh heavily in his decision.

As for Nash, of course he wants Howard back. He came to Los Angeles to try to be a part of a championship contender, and having a dominant rim-protecting presence inside would certainly be a key component in the Lakers once again achieving that level of success.

  1. aboogy123456 - Apr 30, 2013 at 2:51 PM

    “The biggest question facing the Lakers this summer isn’t the health of Kobe Bryant, and if he’ll be able to make it back in time for the start of next season.”

    I have to disagree big time. Kobe’s health IS the biggest question and it determines the lakers strategy in the offseason and what they will be like next year. Dwight is re-signing, the media keeps trying to make drama out of it when it’s really not that dramatic.

    • 00maltliquor - Apr 30, 2013 at 3:25 PM

      Dang, you beat me to the punch. I was gonna say the same thing. I agree with everything you said.

    • andrewproughcfe - Apr 30, 2013 at 9:46 PM

      Who cares? Bring all those old-timers back, healthy or not, and by mid-season they’ll be on crutches again and scrambling for the last playoff spot.

      And next season they might not get so lucky to meet a gentlemanly team like the Spurs in the first round. Instead of getting swept by an average margin of loss of 25 points, an angry team like the Thunder might decide to bury them at a rate of 40 or 50 points per night.

      • ludachrisgsx - May 1, 2013 at 12:03 PM

        Yeah, bring back those old-timers so they can be on crutches again mid-point next season… wait, you meant the Lakers and not the Spurs right? LOL! It takes a bit of luck to make it through a season without injuries, especially when your star players are over the age of 30. Just ask coach Pop.

        The Lakers pretty much have no choice but to bring those old timers back – they will be hesitant to make any trades that will hurt their upcoming 2014 summer salary cap freedom. Even if they did find a way to get rid of most of them (via trades and amnesty) the team wouldn’t be in any position to sign any good young talent this offseason, and likely wouldn’t make the playoffs. So yeah, the old-timers will be back and if they’re somehow able to surround them with a better supporting cast this time, which will be extremely difficult with the little money they’ll have to spend, they might even do better than they did this year… assuming they don’t rack up the injuries again.

  2. flyrocket31 - Apr 30, 2013 at 2:58 PM

    Yes have him Sign with the Lakers. so Daryl Morey and the Rockets wont pursue him. it would be a horrible waste of money and theyd have to trade core players to get him. sign Josh Smith and Keep this current Rockets team core together.

    • asimonetti88 - Apr 30, 2013 at 11:55 PM

      Right. Throw a max contract at Josh Smith. Much better.

  3. mogogo1 - Apr 30, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    Guaranteed if the Lakers could have one question about the future answered it would be “Will Kobe be able to make it all the way back?” That answer would give considerable clarity to everything else they are trying to do. It’s a 100% certainty they re-sign Howard if they know Kobe will be back strong because they’ll see the opportunity to contend. If Kobe doesn’t make it back? Then rte-signing Dwight is maybe a 60-40 proposition. Sure, they need stars the fans will want to see, but a max contract to a guy who could never get his last team over the hump on his own looks a lot iffier if Kobe isn’t around.

  4. chargerdillon - Apr 30, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    If you watched the last performance Dwight put on in LA, clearly it makes sense why Nash would want to keep him around. It’s a lot easier to focus on the immature superstar getting thrown out acting like a baby than it is to focus on the guy who used to be a superstar and is now really old and slow on the court.

    As long as Dwight is there, he’ll take the focus of reality away from the fact Nash can’t stay healthy and can’t play defense.

  5. MyTeamsAllStink - Apr 30, 2013 at 3:28 PM

    What makes Nash think the lakers want HIM back?

    • deeballer - Apr 30, 2013 at 5:36 PM

      I had the exact same question in my mind. The guy can’t even finish the season fully healthy and why would being a year older make him any better?

    • mazblast - May 1, 2013 at 12:26 AM

      Nash wants the focus put on Howard so the Lakers’ “management” doesn’t spend much time in thought (or what passes for it in LaLa Land) about HIM.

  6. iknowzeroaboutsports - Apr 30, 2013 at 3:45 PM

    I’m sorry, Steve who?

  7. nard100 - Apr 30, 2013 at 4:48 PM

    Shouldn’t Steve be more concerned with whether he’ll be back next year?

    • badintent - Apr 30, 2013 at 6:08 PM

      EXACTLY !!

    • eventhorizon04 - Apr 30, 2013 at 6:43 PM

      “Shouldn’t Steve be more concerned with whether he’ll be back next year?”

      No. His contract is guaranteed – $19 million over the next 2 years – and he just turned 39.

      He doesn’t have to worry about getting cut, because that wouldn’t help the Lakers at all, and he doesn’t have to worry about being traded since nobody is going to trade for him given that his body may be breaking down.

      • ludachrisgsx - May 1, 2013 at 11:38 AM

        Well, he doesn’t have to worry about getting cut because teams generally can’t cut players. If he was cut for some bizarre reason, he’d still have to be paid and his salary would still count against the salary cap. The only option is a trade, and I agree, no team out there would trade for his salary. He will play for the Lakers next season.

        I would bet money if they don’t do any better next season, and if Nash isn’t happy with the outlook of the team come 2014 (when they are set to have tons of cap space to sign players) he will likely consider retirement and not play the last year of his contract. What would be the point?

    • andrewproughcfe - Apr 30, 2013 at 9:48 PM

      He should be working on his golf game and tuning up his vocal cords for a lot of work as a TV analyst.

      But first there’s the matter of a boatload of Laker cash to deposit in his bank account.

  8. cranespy - Apr 30, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    Howard has had his fill of Tinseltown and the Mike and Kobe roller coaster ride………He will be a NET!

    • therealhtj - Apr 30, 2013 at 7:02 PM

      Oh you Nyets fans are the greatest. I suppose Dwight will play for Vet’s minimum in your scenario?

      • asimonetti88 - May 1, 2013 at 12:02 AM

        no they will trade Kris Humphries for him

      • ludachrisgsx - May 1, 2013 at 11:46 AM

        Trade Humphries to what team? Dwight is an unrestricted free agent and will belong to no team come July 1st. No team can trade for him at this point, only the Lakers and those teams with salary cap space can sign him… and I don’t think the Nets is one of those teams.

        If he leaves LA it will be for a team with less pressure to win every single year. I don’t know if he has what it takes to be the team leader in a market like LA.

  9. thomaskouns - Apr 30, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    Pointless article… What’s he going to stay – he doesn’t want him back and start a controversy in the media…

  10. 13arod - Apr 30, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    steve nash can’t even stay healthly and deight does stay healthy and steve nash isn’t the player he was a couple of years ago and hopefully the relaese him

    • mazblast - May 1, 2013 at 12:28 AM

      Dwight stays healthy? Since when? Does the phrase “back surgery” ring a bell? The supposedly torn labrum?

    • ludachrisgsx - May 1, 2013 at 11:50 AM

      This isn’t the NFL, you can’t just release players. Educate yourself on the term “guaranteed contracts”. Once the Lakers offered him $9 million per year they pretty much bought him until he retires – which won’t be until the summer of 2014 at the earliest I’m guessing, depending on the outlook of team.

  11. eugenesaxe - Apr 30, 2013 at 5:31 PM

    “Bryant is the Lakers’ most important player, obviously.”

    That depends entirely on how well/quickly he heals. He may not even be a player next year, he could be just a straight-up cap nightmare riding the pine.

    • asimonetti88 - May 1, 2013 at 12:08 AM

      He will play next year. He’s not Derrick Rose, 23 years old with his whole career and earnings potential ahead of him, he’s likely in his last season. If he gets injured from coming back early, well that’s it.

      And while Achilles are tough injuries, it’s not impossible to come back from. Dominique Wilkins tore his at age 32 in February 1992 and was back by the next season. David Beckham tore his at age 35 in March 2010 and was back in September 2010.

      The real question is what kind of player Kobe will be post-injury. I’m not going to speculate on that here. However, I would be absolutely shocked if he wasn’t back and playing.

    • ludachrisgsx - May 1, 2013 at 11:53 AM

      If Chauncey Billups can return after 7 months I would argue Kobe can make it back before 9 months, with as obsessive as he is with his training. Don’t know that he’ll be able to do all the dunking he did this season, but he’ll still be a strong starter for the team.

  12. halfbaht - Apr 30, 2013 at 6:22 PM

    Look at all you fools hating on Steve Nash. One bad season and its all hate. Still one of the best points in the game.

    • lmoneyfresh - Apr 30, 2013 at 6:43 PM

      Nobody is good enough to be a laker in their eyes. Might as well close up shop and live in the past, laker fans really love doing that.

      • asimonetti88 - May 1, 2013 at 12:09 AM

        It appears as though a lot of the hate is coming from non-Lakers fans.

  13. alqj24 - Apr 30, 2013 at 8:20 PM

    Nash is back for next year. If it isn’t for the fluke injury(when he broke his leg vs Portland the 2nd game), none of his other injuries happen. He came back, seemingly healthy, but his body appeared to compensate for his league by overextending his hamstring muscle/hip, which caused issues.

  14. alqj24 - Apr 30, 2013 at 8:20 PM

    Oh, and also, I would think Steve Blake would allow Nash to rest more next year if Kobe is fully healthy as well.

  15. ocgunslinger - Apr 30, 2013 at 9:30 PM

    The “Super Stars” tend to compensate with superior knowledge of the game as their physical skill decline. Nash is one of the best. Kobe is simply improving every year…nobody works harder at improving than Kobe.

  16. gmsingh - May 1, 2013 at 9:14 AM

    Simple solution: get rid of the Bobcats, have the Lakers move to Seattle, and let L.A. start all over again.

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