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The ‘Dwight Howard Conundrum’ – Should Lakers or Rockets Want Him?

The ‘Dwight Howard Conundrum’ – Should Lakers or Rockets Want Him?

Jun 5, 2013

The NBA Finals will hold most of the headlines, but there is undoubtedly a sideshow happening right now. A sideshow that is just waiting to take the main stage once the offseason starts. As NBA free agency draws nearer and nearer, it feels more and more likely that Dwight Howard will leave the Los Angeles Lakers.

That’s a remarkable fact when you think about it. A 27-year old big man in the prime of his career looks set to turn down the opportunity to become the face of the Lakers franchise, and also the immediate opportunity to try and win a championship with a hall of famer lined line-up including Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol.

However, it also says a lot about Howard and his personality. Howard isn’t an NBA star who craves the limelight. He hasn’t shown any signs of possessing the desire to be the face of a franchise and he has become near infamous for his failure in the fourth quarter of big games.

On ESPN’s television show ‘First Take’ yesterday, analyst Stephen A. Smith re-stated a well-known fact that should have any NBA team currently chasing Dwight Howard concerned. Howard wanted to go to Brooklyn. He wanted to play for the Nets.

He ended up in LA and he crumbled under the pressure. He failed to take necessary responsibility and was all too often the problem for a team that endured an extremely tough season. It was clear that he wasn’t happy with the environment he was in.

The ultimate problem with Dwight Howard is that he has an incredible skill set. This may be an era where dominant big men are absent and that may be a part of the reason that he has been able to enjoy success. However, there’s no doubt that his ability to simply dominate underneath the basket defensively combined with a player who averages 18 points in his career and regularly averages 12-15 rebounds per game.

Why is that a problem? Because his skill set doesn’t line up to his intangibles. Different star players have found different ways to succeed with their teams. When you spend maximum dollars on a basketball player, you need to know that the player can figure out a way they can be successful and handle the pressure of being a star player in the NBA.

This should be a massive concern for a Lakers franchise that attracts more attention than just about any other. With Bryant expected to return in the next two or three seasons, can an LA franchise really invest in a player of Howard’s emotional fragility for the future of their organization? It’s a dangerous move.

Arguably the favorite to land Howard are the Houston Rockets. Houston is the sort of market where ‘D12’ won’t have to deal with as much media attention and the team already has a face of the franchise after James Harden’s superb first season in Texas.

Maybe the Rockets have enough pieces to make it work with Howard. However, after a promising campaign that points towards a bright future for the Houston franchise, it would be interesting to see the team change direction.

It’s not as if the pressure of expectation and history is significantly reduced in a Rockets’ franchise that was once led by Hakeem Olajuwon.

Should Houston or LA really fork out max dollars for a player with as many questions marks as Howard? That remains unclear. However, it is very clear that an NBA organization will make that decision this summer. They will have to count on Howard to mature and develop in terms of the mental aspects of his game.

Who Should Get Dwight Howard? free polls 



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