The future of the Los Angeles Lakers became even more uncertain on Friday night when Kobe Bryant suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon. The team already has to deal with Dwight Howard becoming an impending free agent, let alone worrying about Kobe’s anticipated six-to-nine month recovery period.
According to USA Today Sports, Howard is expected to re-sign with LA. Two sources close to the 6-foot-11 center reportedly said they “fully expect” him to return to the Lakers next season but that Howard will wait until the summer to announce his final decision.
The Lakers need Howard to return now more than they ever did. The team is aging rapidly around him and Kobe seemed to not rule out retirement in his venting session on Facebook early Saturday morning. Bryant will be 35 and coming off a major injury when the 2013-2014 season begins. Howard will be 27, and although he has had problems with his back and shoulder he’s very much still in his prime. Kobe is getting close to the finish line.
As we know, a couple of Howard’s friends saying he plans on sticking around essentially means nothing. Howard said back in December that he would not rule out leaving the Lakers if it meant chasing a championship. This is also the same player who constantly changed his mind about his future with the Orlando Magic last season and left the fans and the organization wondering where his priorities stood.
Naturally, money should be a major factor. The Lakers can offer Howard a max contract extension of five years, $117.9 million. Other teams would only be able to give him a four-year, $87.8 million deal. And hey, Dwight’s second season in LA can’t get any more frustrating than his first — or could it?