At a time when the Los Angeles Lakers truthfully have no idea what Howard will do when he hits unrestricted free agency this summer, I hope their counting on Kobe to do anything other than sell Howard on remaining in Tinseltown.
Speaking from the NBA All-Star Game, Bryant said it “doesn’t matter” if the Lakers trade Howard before the deadline (via Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times):
“I don’t know what they are going to do,” Bryant said Sunday at Toyota Center after helping the West defeat the East, 143-138, in the All-Star game. “But at this point … , it doesn’t matter. what matters to us is what we do on Wednesday [against the Boston Celtics] and go from there.
“That’s the most important thing. That’s my message to the team is that you can’t worry about the future, you can’t worry about the past, you just have to focus on the present and we really have to maximize every single game.”
For most potential targets, Bryant’s words would be a form of encouragement. That he wants to focus on winning and not getting caught up in the future of one player is refreshing and exactly the kind of mentality it takes to win a championship.
For Howard, though? Not so much.
I’m not saying Dwight wants Kobe to kiss the ground he walks on, but as the supposed face of the Lakers’ future, he surely wants the current face to care what happens to him. Though Bryant knows how much Howard means to this team, he also knows that he has but a few years left in the league and doesn’t want to spend any of them chasing someone who isn’t high on Hollywood.
Such are the perils of targeting Howard while Bryant is still in purple and gold. The two are so different; one is a fierce competitor who has no time for shenanigans, while the other is a dedicated competitor with not-so-thick skin.
Howard has become visibly frustrated when speaking with members of the media about his future. He’s not accustomed to the spotlight that comes with playing in a market like Los Angeles. That his most important teammate is seemingly detached from his future with the team isn’t going to help matters for a fun-loving, easy-going and blissfully ignorant player like Howard.
Should we expect Howard to spurn the Lakers this summer in favor of another team like the Dallas Mavericks or Houston Rockets?
Postseason berth or not, I still say no.
Just know, however, that it’s going to be interesting and his decision is not going to be a seamless one. Until Howard signs on the dotted line, his future (or lack thereof) in Los Angeles will remain shrouded in uncertainty.
Something Kobe Bryant’s brutal (bordering on necessary) honesty isn’t going to help change.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.