It doesn’t make for great talk radio or arguing talking heads on television, but the smart money has always been that Dwight Howard will re-sign with the Lakers this summer (he is an unrestricted free agent). The Lakers can offer the most money, Howard likes living in Los Angeles and it would be another blow to his already-damaged image to walk away from the big stage (you can hear the cries of “he’s soft, he can’t handle it” already).
But don’t take my word for it, ask Hawks forward Josh Smith.
Smith is one of Howard’s best friends in the league and he told Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News he thinks Howard stays put.
“I can’t pick his brain and be in his head but to me, I don’t see him going anywhere,” Smith said before the Lakers hosted the Hawks at Staples Center. “It would be a shock to me.”
“Dwight is a loyal athlete and loyal person,” Smith said. “He’s not a quitter and doesn’t run from situations. That’s why I believe with this franchise and the way he’s talked so well about it, I can’t see him going anywhere.”
Fair or not, true or not, if Howard left the Lakers this summer to play for Houston or Dallas or any other team he would be called a quitter for leaving the franchise of Mikan, Kareem, Wilt and Shaq.
And him leaving seems even less likely after the Lakers recent run of play. They may make the playoffs, but even if not they have started to figure out an identity as a team, and a healthier Lakers with a full training camp (and a few more athletes after a Pau Gasol trade) could go back to being a title threat next season.
It’s not sexy, but he’s not going anywhere.
Free agent Josh Smith on the other hand… he is going to get a huge paycheck from someone this summer and it will not be Atlanta.
Caris LeVert has been one of the Nets’ biggest bright spots. The hard-working 24-year-old was a Most Improved Player candidate, and he seems well-liked throughout the organization. He’s even already hit a couple game–winners this season.
But LeVert’s breakout campaign hit a devastating snag tonight, as he injured his leg.
The reactions of both his Brooklyn teammates and the Timberwolves say everything. This is a tough one.
A key question after the 76ers traded for Jimmy Butler: How would the demanding star affect Markelle Fultz‘s confidence?
Butler isn’t even playing for Philadelphia yet, but this isn’t an encouraging sign.
Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice:
Maybe the ball just slipped out of Fultz’s hands on the way up, and he had to continue pushing it toward the rim to avoid a violation. That could happen to anybody.
But given everything we know about Fultz’s shooting woes, it’s impossible to take this as anything other than a ghastly low point in an ongoing problem.
LeBron James has played in eight straight NBA Finals.
How’s he handling reduced expectations with the Lakers, who started 2-5 before rising to 7-6?
LeBron, via Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:
“I haven’t changed anything outwardly, but you know me. You know how I am. I almost cracked [last week]. I had to sit back and remind myself, ‘[Expletive], you knew what you were getting yourself into,’” James told Yahoo Sports while laughing after Saturday’s win in Sacramento. “This process has been good for me. I just have to continue being patient.”
LeBron warned everyone to stay clear when he loses his patience, but he has never sounded close to losing it this season. He signed a four-year deal with the Lakers, said he doesn’t feel urgency to win quickly before his prime ends and seems content to wait for a co-star.
If anything, it seemed LeBron might be too relaxed, enjoying the Los Angeles lifestyle and focusing on showbusiness.
So, this is a welcome sign of his competitiveness.
Also kudos to LeBron for harnessing it unlike others in the organization. These Lakers need time to determine how these oddly shaped pieces fit together – unless a star becomes available. Then, all bets are off.
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul – the banana-boat buddies – comprise the NBA’s most famous friendship group.
With Anthony nearing his end with the Rockets, that puts Houston teammate Paul in an awkward place. But Wade and LeBron are speaking up. So are the Trail Blazers’ Evan Turner and Damian Lillard.
It’s unclear whether Wade is scolding the Rockets or fans/media. That comment is far more loaded if he’s referring directly to the organization. I wonder what he sees at the “real problem” in Houston.
A struggling team waiving a minimum-salary player is rarely viewed as making that player the scapegoat. But Anthony has an outsized reputation due to his long, star-level career. With that in mind, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tried to defend Anthony.
But Anthony is a part of Houston’s problems. He’s awful defensively and shooting poorly. There is mounting evidence he’s washed up. Downgrading his role, whether or not that includes waiving him, is a step in the right direction for the Rockets.
It won’t solve everything, and Anthony – after all that he has done in the NBA – should be treated with respect. But there’s no way around his substandard current level of play.