Lakers Rumors: Why Lakers Should Stick With Dwight Howard

Ryan DavenportContributor IJanuary 24, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 15:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts to his goaltending during the game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Staples Center on January 15, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

With roughly three months to go in the 2012-13 NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers have a decision of seismic proportions to make with regards to Dwight Howard's future.

That's because the 27-year-old is set to become a free agent this summer, and after one season in Hollywood, it's getting increasingly harder to believe that the seven-time All-Star will be inclined to return to the Lakers, especially under Mike D'Antoni.

However, that does not mean that the Lakers should give up on Howard, because despite this lineup's struggles this season, the man known as D-12 is without a doubt the most valuable asset on a roster full of aging superstars.

Sure, Howard hasn't been his usual dominant self, but last time I checked, a guy averaging over 17 points and 12 rebounds a game is a highly coveted commodity.

That being said, according to Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne of, the Lakers haven't ruled out dealing Howard, who was their prized offseason acquisition just months ago.

The Los Angeles Lakers have consistently turned away trade inquiries in recent weeks for All-Star center Dwight Howard and still believe they have a strong chance of signing him to a new contract when Howard becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer, according to sources close to the situation.

But sources told this week the Lakers might be forced to reconsider that position between now and the Feb. 21 trade deadline because of Howard's growing unhappiness with his role under coach Mike D'Antoni and the potential that raises for Howard leaving them in July without compensation.

The dilemma for general manager Mitch Kupchak is whether to deal Howard now, or keep him and risk losing him for virtually nothing this summer.

It's not as if Howard's come out and said he wants to leave L.A., but with a core that's getting older by the day, unless he gets a max-deal from the Lakers, why would he want to stay?

Yeah, it stinks that Kupchak probably won't be able to get an indication from Howard regarding his future preference either way before the season's over, but after giving up an All-Star big in Andrew Bynum in order to acquire Howard, he can't fold on this hand now.

Howard has all the potential in the world, and if he can begin to mesh with Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol, there's no telling what they can do.

But the Lakers' brain trust has to keep the faith.