It has been only three days since the Los Angeles Lakers were swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the NBA Playoffs and the question on everyone’s mind regarding the Lakers is: Will Dwight Howard return to the Lakers next year or will he join another team? Howard is a free agent after this season and a season that started with goals of winning a ring ended by being called a “nightmare.” In the end, I believe that it is best for Howard to remain with the Lakers.
Howard came over to the Lakers last offseason in the blockbuster trade that sent Andrew Bynum to the 76ers, Andre Iguodala to the Nuggets, and Aaron Afflalo to the Magic among others. Immediately after Howard arrived in LA, there were expectations to win a title in 2012-2013. Howard was coming off of back surgery and the organization wasn’t sure if Howard would be able to play on opening night. He was ready on opening night and played 76 games this season although he dealt with shoulder injuries all season.
In the first half of the season, Howard struggled to get adjusted to coach Mike D’Antoni’s system as he told reporters on numerous occasions that he was frustrated because he wasn’t getting the ball. Howard ended the season averaging 17.1 points per game, his lowest average since 06-07 with the Magic. He led the league in rebounds with 12.4 per game and was 5th in blocks with 2.45 per game. But Howard finished the regular season strong, averaging 19.4 points per game in the final two months as the Lakers desperately tried to make it into the playoffs.
So why should Howard come back to LA? If Dwight Howard wants to go down as one of the greatest centers of all-time, he should stay in LA. The Lakers are one of the most storied franchises in NBA history and if he stays, Howard will become the face of the team. Yes, I just said that. Howard became the leader of the team when Kobe Bryant went down with his Achilles injury in April and Kobe doesn’t have that much time left in him. His contract ends after next year and I believe he will retire if the Lakers win a ring. GM Mitch Kupchak has expressed his support for wanting Howard back and Kobe will be ready to hand over the throne to Howard. Kupchak will then build the team around Howard and maybe bring another superstar to LA, maybe CP3 or LeBron? There is also a difference in the contract Howard can get. If Howard signs with the Lakers, it will most likely be a five-year contract worth over $110 million. If he goes to another team, the max he can sign for is 4-years, worth $87.6 million.
Dwight Howard is frustrated after such a tumultuous season. I have never season a season like the 2012-13 Laker season and I know that if Howard re-signs with the Lakers, he will become one of the greatest centers in Laker history. I know that Dwight is mad but his decision should be made soon. Sign with the Lakers and become the next Kareem or Wilt or Shaq.
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