As the NBA trade deadline approaches and rumors about Dwight Howard’s future with the Los Angeles Lakers swirl, general manager Mitch Kupchak took to the radio airwaves to (again) try to quell the notion that the All-Star center will be moved — by the deadline or any time after that.
Indeed, Kupchak said his plans are for Howard to be a Laker for some time to come.
“Dwight is our future,” Kupchak said on ESPN Radio on Wednesday. Kobe Bryant “has one more year on his deal,” meaning this year, plus one more. “That’s all I can bank on or this organization can bank on. I have no idea if he wants to continue to play beyond next year. As of now, we’re looking at a two-year window, (and that) plays to the urgency of the situation and how we build the team… This team’s window to win is this year and next year.”
Howard said he agreed with Kupchak. “We talked about it plenty of times,” he said.
Still, Howard, like last year when he was with Orlando, refused to totally commit.
“The only thing that matters is right now,” Howard, 27, said. “Nobody can control what happens in the offseason. Like I said to you guys before, there’s no need to talk about it every day.
“There’s no need for me to make a decision right now. My goal hasn’t changed. I want to win a championship and I want to win one here. I’m here right now and this is our chance to get one this season. It’s been tough, but we have an opportunity to change all that.”
Added Kupchak: “We’re not trading Dwight Howard… He will not be traded, and there’s nothing that anybody can do today to call me today and ask me, ‘Would you do this?’ and get a positive result… It’s hard to get talent in this league, and to have a talent like Dwight Howard, we have no intention of trading Dwight Howard. He belongs to have his name on the wall [as a retired uniform] and a statue in front of Staples [Center] at some point in time.”
It will take championships to achieve that, and Kupchak realizes that.
“Players in this league are not going to get their due until they win a championship, and until they do, they’re under the microscope and they’re going to be criticized for every single little thing,” Kupchak said. “We’ve seen that with what’s taken place in Miami in the last year or two. (LeBron James) is playing at a ridiculously high level right now, but for several years he was criticized for everything he did. When he won a championship, everything changed. That’s just the way it’s going to be. With Dwight, when he wins his first championship — and he will — people will look at him differently.”