Things we’ve learned entering All-Star break
by Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
As the NBA enters the All-Star break, USA TODAY Sports takes time to look around and gain some perspective on what has gone on this season.
1. Not all stars align
Dwight Howard’s trade to the Los Angeles Lakers seemed like a scary proposition for the rest of the league. Instead, the Lakers have been faced with the haunted house.
Howard missed most of the preseason while recovering from the neck injury that cost him the end of last season. But he returned for the regular season and has missed only six games. That’s not the issue.
The issue: The three-time defensive player of the year and five-time all-NBA first-teamer has looked like a shell of his former self. His numbers are fine, but he has been stiff and unable to jell with Kobe Bryant.
Steve Nash and Pau Gasol, the third and fourth stars, have missed many games because of injuries. Gasol is out until at least late March with a torn plantar fascia in his foot.
Bryant has been a warrior, taking on distribution duties while scoring in droves. But he also has created friction in the locker room, particularly with Howard.
Coach Mike Brown was fired after five games. Coach Mike D’Antoni already has fans calling for his head. All this has gone down for the most expensive roster in the NBA.
2. Beware trading for injury-plagued centers
It’s not only Howard. The Philadelphia 76ers and Golden State Warriors have been dealt tough luck in deals for centers, too.
Andrew Bynum arrived in Philadelphia with knee problems, and they have gone from bad to worse. Bynum, who came from the Lakers in the four-team Howard trade, has not played at all because of injuries to both knees. Rehabilitating one, he injured the other while bowling.
The Warriors brought in Andrew Bogut with hopes of finding balance in their high-speed offense. Bogut has played nine games since the midseason trade last year, and his minutes are limited when he is available because of a fragile ankle. His ankle is fragile, and though his play is strong, he’s forced Golden State to find other options even as it has … [For more on 10 things we've learned entering NBA All-Star break, click here.]