Howard says he’s not going anywhere for now
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
LOS ANGELES – With the Feb. 21 trade deadline fast approaching and the free-agent-to-be who used to be known for his joyous ways waffling again about whether he’s happy, Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard was sending mixed signals over the weekend. As he has done so often in these last two roller-coaster seasons.
“My mind-set? Nobody’s going anywhere,” Howard told USA TODAY Sports on Saturday.
Despite saying the Lakers won’t trade him or anyone else to save this unexpectedly downer of a season, Howard has the team guessing again. His answers regarding free agency have taken on a different tone of late, with Howard opting not to discuss the topic after he had spoken about his return as if it were a foregone conclusion for so long.
The Lakers, hosting the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday, had lost 10 of their last 13 games and entered play 4 ½ games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Howard, whose once-glowing reputation took such a hit late in the Orlando Magic chapter of his story, is a once-in-a-generation big man who is next in line to become the latest Lakers legend.
But between his physical struggles (April back surgery that still affects him) and his constantly conflicted nature, Howard has been hard-pressed to return to his Superman ways. ABC/ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy, who has far a more negative view of Howard than his brother and Howard’s former coach, Stan, is among the many who would like to see some stability with the center’s situation.
“For him to say that we’re going to talk about free agency later (means), ‘I’m not sure I want to be here.’ That’s very clear-cut that he has self-doubt,” said Jeff Van Gundy, the former Houston Rockets and New York Knicks coach. “I think that causes a division (among the team) because then (people say), ‘Does he not like playing with Kobe (Bryant)? Does he not like being coached by Mike (D’Antoni)? Does he want to play with another big guy like (Pau) Gasol?’
“It seems like for two-and-a-half, three years he’s been in a constant … [For more on Dwight Howard says he's not going anywhere ... for now, click here.]