Dwight Howard will probably explore the opportunities that free agency offers at the season. If something long-term was going to be negotiated between Howard and the Los Angeles Lakers, it would have probably happened by now. The Lakers aren’t destined for the finals as expected, and it’s hard to see Howard willing to take baby steps with the Lakers if he can go to a team where he can walk to the playoffs.
On Friday night, the Lakers played to Toronto Raptors. Rudy Gay had an off night with 17 points, four assists and seven rebounds.
In response, Kobe Bryant took over. In the final two minutes, it was Bryant vs. the Raptors. He channeled the younger self who once scored 81 points against the team.
If Gay had been on his A game, it’s hard to see a situation where the Lakers would have won. Bryant couldn’t have won it alone. When the Lakers need Howard, he can’t help them. As it stands now, a team led by Howard couldn’t even beat the Raptors, who may get the 8th playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
It isn’t about his smiling or his free throws, or that he lacks a serious demeanor. Shaquille O’Neal wasn’t a serious guy and he wasn’t great at the line, but he embraced it and made it work for him.
As long as Bryant suits up every night, the Lakers stand a fair chance against almost any team. Is Howard learning from Bryant?
Last week, Metta World Peace told ESPNLA 710 that, “Dwight is learning how to be a leader.”
He continued, saying, “He’s not yet a vocal leader because he hasn’t been in that situation enough to lead by example, so I have to really step up and lead more vocally and by example and I try to teach Dwight a little bit about what it takes to lead.”
The Lakers didn’t draft Howard out of college. He’s been in the league for several years. If he doesn’t have the ability to be “the guy” yet, it probably isn’t going to happen.
The Lakers would be better off finding another franchise guy who is willing to be groomed into a franchise player by Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol.