As the Lakers continue to make their way through this especially turmoil-filled season, one thing looming large at the end of it all will be the decision that Dwight Howard will need to make this summer as an unrestricted free agent.
The Lakers certainly weren’t worried about the possibility of Howard leaving when they traded for him, believing that the wealth of talent surrounding him, along with playing in one of the biggest media markets for one of the most winning franchises would be more than enough to convince him that finishing his career in Los Angeles was by far the most attractive option.
Based on how this season has gone, however, Howard may not be as excited to stay in L.A. as everyone once thought. Now playing for a head coach who doesn’t traditionally favor post play offensively, and dealing with teammates questioning the severity of his injury and his willingness to play through pain, it seems at least possible that Howard may be more and more open to exploring his options when the time comes.
Despite all of that, one of Howard’s former teammates still sees L.A. as the favorite to retain the big man’s services.
From Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida:
Rashard Lewis, Dwight Howard Orlando teammate, believes Howard will re-sign with Lakers this summer as free agent.
“My gut feeling is I think he will,’’ Lewis who is now with the Heat and will face Howard on Sunday, told FOX Sports Florida. “I think he will be in L.A. … He most definitely likes the city, likes the organization. It’s one of the first-class organizations. The Lakers have a history of winning championships, and that’s what he wants to do is win championships. So we’ll see what happens at the end of the season, but my gut feeling is I think he’ll stay there.’’
Lewis played four seasons with Howard, but it’s unclear whether or not he has any insight into what’s going on with his former teammate in Los Angeles this season.
It seems as though everything is in place for Howard to indeed re-sign with the Lakers. One of the main reasons the team wanted him was to essentially hand over the club to Howard once Kobe Bryant retires (likely in a year or two), and make Howard the new face of the franchise as it transitions into a new era.
All of that is still on the table, and the plan, from an organizational standpoint, remains firmly in place. It’ll be up to Howard to decide whether or not dealing with the short-term issues becomes more trouble than it’s worth, to the point where it clouds what might be best for him long-term in deciding whether or not to re-sign with the Lakers this summer.