Los Angeles Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak told Backstage Lakers that he put an end to the summer’s Dwight Howard trade saga in one morning’s work. All it took was a few phone calls and Howard became a Laker.
In bringing Howard to Los Angeles, Kupchak assumed that Howard would become accustomed to life as a Laker and forget all about Brooklyn.
Kupchak told ESPN that, “Dwight is our future.”
However, the season has not panned out as planned. The Lakers are a wild card for the playoffs. Kobe Bryant and Howard take public jabs at each other. Pau Gasol and Howard have struggled to share the paint.
Yet, Kupchak allowed the trade deadline to pass without making a move. He has remained hopeful that things will work out. Howard can be the franchise player the Lakers need once Bryant retires.
While Howard ensured ESPN that he and Kupchak talk about his future in L.A. and that he trusts Kupchak, Howard has always been clear that winning a championship is and always will be his first priority. If he can’t win it in L.A. this year, the opportunities that free agency will offer may be too tempting for him to stay.
Howard told ESPN, “I’m going to trust him and go out there and play as hard as I can to try to get a title for the team this year.”
Howard continued: “Mitch, he sees a lot of great things in me and he knows what I want to be at the end of my career,” said Howard. “He feels like this is the right place to do it. He’s always telling me to do certain things, look outside my house, look at the city. Little things like that, just to motivate me.”
Kupchak wants Howard to stay with Lakers and isn’t bothered by Howard’s poor season. He told USA Today “I think he should get more credit for the reality of what has taken place.”
Kupchak pointed to Howard’s shoulder injury as a temporary issue that has held the Lakers back, “He came back because after a year he wanted to play and he wanted to win. And then he’s also had the torn labrum (in his right shoulder). I just thought he was getting unfairly criticized.”
“He belongs to have his name on the wall [as a retired uniform] and a statue in front of Staples [Center] at some point in time.”