LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak has stated that he has no plans to make any moves before Thursday’s trade deadline.
Even though Dwight Howard’s first season with the Lakers has been riddled with injury, Kupchak stated the team’s intent is to keep him around.
“We’re not trading Dwight Howard,” Kupchak told The Herd with Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio Wednesday. “He’s the best center in the league. Why would we even consider it?”
Kupchak also told ESPN Radio that not only was he not going to trade Dwight Howard, but he hopes to turn him into the future of the franchise.
“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,” added Kupchak. “He belongs to have his name on the wall and a statue in front of Staples at some point in time.”
Howard was asked if he agreed with Kupchak as far as the idea of being the future of the Lakers, “Yeah, I do,” Howard said. “We talked about it plenty of times.”
However, the 27-year old center is far from making a decision on whether or not to remain with the Lakers past this season.
“The only thing that matters is right now,” Howard 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.”
One topic that has been getting special attention this season has been Howard’s relationship with team captain Kobe Bryant. There has been repeated speculation that a decrease in the Lakers’ performance this year is, in part, due to a turbulent relationship between the two all-stars. Kupchak has stated, however, that the relationship is developing.
“I think it’s a work in progress, probably the best way to say it,” Kupchak explained. “I would say the same thing about Kobe and Steve Nash and Steve Nash and Dwight Howard.”
The former three-time defensive player of the year underwent back surgery during the offseason, and he has struggled to consistently show his dominant talent on the court. He is averaging 16.3 points-per-game, which is his lowest since his second season in the NBA.
His 11.8 rebounds-per-game are his lowest since he was a rookie in 2004-05. But ESPN is reporting that the Lakers may be preparing to offer Howard a maximum five-year contract extension.
“That type of surgery takes at least a year to get back completely,” Kupchak said about Howard’s back surgery. “He’s so young, he got back so quick, he’s going to have a 100 percent recovery.”