Dwight Howard Reportedly Griped About Kobe Bryant, Could Team Up with Chris Paul

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistMay 21, 2013

January 4, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard (12) reacts after fouling Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul (3) during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Let the Los Angeles Lakers' worst nightmare commence.

Considered a favorite to retain Dwight HowardMark Heisler of Lakers Nation reports that Superman's return to Hollywood is far from a sure thing. And why? Because of Kobe Bryant, among other things:

Not to mention his frustration with Kobe Bryant. ESPN L.A.’s Dave McMenamin reported Howard told GM Mitch Kupchak he felt marginalized by D’Antoni, who looked to Bryant and Steve Nash for leadership but not him.

Worse, a league source told me that despite the apparent thaw between Howard and Bryant, Dwight complained privately about Kobe late in the season.

The rift between Howard and Mike D'Antoni is one thing. Magic Mike can be replaced if need be. Any falling out with Bryant is much more complicated.

Los Angeles isn't going to part ways (via trade or the NBA's amnesty provision) with Kobe, even if it means securing Howard. The Black Mamba has done too much for the franchise and holds five championship rings to Howard's zero. Dwight is the future of the Lakers, yet they're not about to re-sign him at Kobe's expense.

Any feud between the two being characterized as "irreparable" is difficult to believe as well.

Both have conceded they have their differences, but Kobe has made keeping Dwight in Tinseltown a priority of his. It's difficult to envision their relationship is then fractured beyond mending.

Abandoning the Lakers won't just be about Kobe or D'Antoni should Howard choose to leave. There will have to be something else in play—like teaming up with Chris Paul on the Atlanta Hawks.

Laugh if you must (even I'm giggling a bit), but Heisler says the two have already discussed forming a superteam of their own in Atlanta:

In any case, a league source says Paul will check out other teams, as Howard is expected to do. If Paul leaves, it could could pose a problem for the Lakers, who had enough already, if he and Dwight Howard decide to create a new option, joining up in Atlanta. Howard and Paul are pals. The Hawks can open up two maximum slots. They mused about Atlanta (D12’s from there, CP3 from North Carolina) years ago, before fate led them in other directions.

Before we all go crazy and Lakers fans begin ruing the day they dealt for Howard (if they haven't already), understand that this is Atlanta we're talking about. 

The Hawks have the ability to open up two max-contract slots (or close to it), but they're notoriously mediocre. Atlanta isn't considered a desirable market. It pales in comparison to that of Los Angeles, the locale both Howard and Paul presently call home.

Even Heisler himself isn't convinced that this will happen. And we shouldn't be either.

Is it possible? Absolutely. Is it likely? Most definitely not.

Scenarios like these are always long shots. That's how it works. Still a month away from free agency, everything is pure conjecture at this point.

So let's not get carried away by any conspiracy theories. This isn't the first one, and it most certainly won't be the last. There's no need to panic if your loyalties lie with the Los Angeles Clippers or Lakers. Not yet.

Sadly, there's also no need for the few Atlanta fans that still exist to revel in the thought of the Hawks finally doing something right, either.