Howard Scares Lakers, Much Like Kobe in ’04?
A.C. Green left the Lakers for Phoenix exactly 20 years ago this summer, perhaps the only important player they ever lost to free agency.
It so irritated Jerry Buss that he appealed to his players a few months later at training camp with an impassioned “Beat the Suns!” It was one of the few times that Buss, the longtime Lakers owner who died this year, ever addressed the team that way.
The Lakers have another free-agent courting on their hands, but instead of chasing a one-time All-Star like Green, they’re trying to impress seven-timer Dwight Howard.
The franchise has stopped in time. There’s a sense of uncertainty, if not uneasiness, in the halls of the front office. Will a big-name free agent really turn his back on the 16-time NBA champions?
If it feels like the Lakers went through this recently, they did, somewhat, in 2004, while Kobe Bryant debated whether to ditch the only team he knew and join the Clippers.
“When the phone call came in, we really didn’t know which way it was going to go,” Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said Thursday, calling the Howard situation “very similar” and “scary close” to what he experienced with Bryant nine years ago.