Originally written on Taking Bad Schotz  |  Last updated 11/19/14

The Los Angeles Lakers were expected to be among the NBA’s elite during the 2012-13 NBA season. Clearly, those expectations have all but evaporated now. Adding future Hall-of-Famers like Dwight Howard and Steve Nash along with solid players like Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks looked great on paper. However, it is apparent now that this combination does not work on the court. Photo Credit: AP Howard is at the center of it all. He will be a free agent this offseason and it is clear that, at least for the first few months, his time in Los Angeles has not worked. The Lakers must trade him right now. Here’s why: 1. His Impending Free Agency It cannot be comforting to the Lakers’ management and fans that Howard has the chance to leave the team without any repercussions in June. There is a solid chance that the team will lose him in free agency and get absolutely nothing in return. The Lakers are a confident bunch, as they should be. Getting big-name players has never been a problem, but it likely will be in Howard’s case. What star player would want to stay on a team that has had the season they are currently having? The Lakers have star-power, but that will do nothing to convince Howard to stay considering that this team will have already proven to not work together. Los Angeles must trade Howard now. Even though his value is at an all-time low, he is still one of the most valuable players in the NBA. Getting younger, more athletic pieces to fit Mike D’Antoni’s scheme will better serve the team. 2. His Injury Problems Dwight’s shoulder continues to give him problems, and though he has not missed many games this season (note: he played in at least 78 games each year in his first seven seasons), it has clearly kept him from being the player the Lakers traded for in the offseason. Many will tell you that his lack of injury problems in the past gives good cause for hope that he will fully recover soon enough. There is another side to that argument though. Most star players go through injury issues as they age. This current bout of injuries could be the harbinger of what Howard’s career will soon become. He is a big, athletic guy, and many times big, athletic guys have bodies that simply cannot handle their own athleticism over a long period of time. The Lakers are not winning with Howard right now. Do they really want to risk trying to win with an injury-riddled Howard in the future? 3. His Lack of Chemistry with Kobe The biggest reason the Lakers must trade Dwight Howard is not his lack of production, his injuries or the fact that he could leave as a free agent, but rather his complete incompatibility with Kobe Bryant. Bryant has criticized Howard publicly, as he tends to do when he feels that a teammate is not putting forth the effort required for the task at hand. That is not a method that will work with Howard. Dwight Howard is a fun-loving player who plays the game with a smile and joy. Granted, he gets paid millions to do it, but in his heart he is not a competitive monster. Kobe is, usually in a good way. These two players are not on the same wavelength. At his best, Howard goes out there and plays loose and free. At his best, Bryant puts tons of pressure on himself, forming a singular focus on a championship goal. Their approaches are polar opposites. Bryant is the Los Angeles Lakers. His focus is theirs. Therefore, Howard does not fit in Los Angeles. That fact, combined with his impending free agency and injuries problems, provides more than enough evidence for the Lakers to jettison him out of town. -Ross

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