The University of Maine student newspaper since 1875
Wednesday, Oct. 7, 3:46 p.m.

Lakers, Howard not a marriage that will end well

The Los Angeles Lakers have had great centers throughout their franchise, including Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal. Dwight Howard’s name will not make it on this list.

In a recent conversation with ESPN’s Steven A. Smith, Howard discussed his current tenure with the Lakers and where he’s going in the future — a future that doesn’t look bright for LA.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak says the organization isn’t interested in dealing before the trade deadline — Howard will be a free agent by the end of the season. Kupchak believes Howard will re-sign at the season’s conclusion; Howard thinks otherwise.

The enigma of where Howard is headed continues, but I can guarantee you that he will no longer be a Laker by the end of the season.

Smith asked Howard where he was going after the season ends and what his interest level was in re-signing with the Lakers. In about 10 different ways, Howard said that all he’s focused on is this season. At no time during the interview did he comment on wanting to be the next Laker great or whether he was willing to return to the Lakers after the season is over. His responses make evident the kind of mistake Mitch Kupchak is making.

Dwight Howard is a player any team in the league would want. Who knows to what extent another general manager would go in order to add a player of his caliber to their roster. Kupchak wants to keep him, but Howard will not return to LA. Instead, he played the same card he played in Orlando. All Dwight wants to focus on is “this season,” and “winning a championship this season.” If they don’t trade him, and he walks, they get nothing in return. One season’s worth of Dwight Howard’s production will be all that the Lakers get out of the three-team trade that costed them cost of Andrew Bynum.

Howard isn’t worth keeping. His production this year has been mediocre compared to past seasons; down low, he has been everything but a dominant force. His rebound totals are what we’ve come to expect from the All-Star center, but his point and block totals are significantly lower per game. He’s been beat up inside all year and constantly turns the ball over when double-teamed in the low post. Even when he gets hacked on shot attempts and goes to the line, you’d be lucky to see him hit one of two free throws.

The Lakers are no longer the reigning power in the NBA. Although his production is still great, Kobe is getting old, as is Metta World Peace and Pau Gasol — Gasol is currently out with a torn plantar fascia. The Lakers cannot win under Mike D’Antoni and with this roster. The only hope the Lakers have of getting better is to move Howard while they can still get value for him.