Many Lakers fans were dismayed when star center Dwight Howard spurned the team to select the Houston Rockets. Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times is not one of those who will be in mourning.
The writer declared that “the Lakers didn’t lose a center, they dodged a bullet. Take a hike, Dwight, and don’t let your cape hit you on the way out.”
Plaschke proceeds to make the case that Howard did not have the guts, gumption, or drive to handle what it takes to play championship basketball, particularly in the high pressure environment of Los Angeles. He believes that the inconsistency and drama that surrounds Dwight Howard would not be worth the talent he brings to the court.
Moreover, he writes that the Lakers agree with him. While he acknowledges that the Lakers never flinched when offering him a max contract or putting on appearances that they were eager to sign the big man, he argues that the team never wanted to bring Howard back into the fold.
To make his argument, he points out that the Lakers not only kept coach Mike D’Antoni (still, in my opinion, one of the all-time most questionable coaching hires given the team’s roster) but sent him in the room to make the pitch to the superstar. The fact that the main reason Howard was believed to be looking elsewhere was in the room seeking to sell him on staying is telling to Plaschke that the Lakers were not serious in keeping the All-Star.
Additionally, the pitch the Lakers went with is not the conventional approach made to an egotistical athlete. Plaschke writes that “while the Rockets were undoubtedly convincing Howard of his greatness,Bryant was making a final pitch in which he challenged Howard to followhis lead and strive for that greatness.”
It may be some time before we can be certain what the Lakers hopes were for this offseason, yet Plaschke makes a compelling point. What will likely remain a mystery for an even longer period of time, unless the team pulls a miracle next summer and lands “King James,” is how the Lakers will seek to rebuild given the pieces on their current roster.