Back in the summer of 2013, the Los Angeles Lakers had what was thought to be a vital piece to the championship puzzle with Dwight Howard deciding to sign with the Houston Rockets. A big-name player deciding to leave Los Angeles in free agency surprised a lot of people and left many wondering if the Lakers were starting to lose their appeal.
It’s been almost two years since Dwight left Los Angeles and he’s still no closer to winning a championship. The Houston Rockets on the verge of elimination in the playoffs at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers of all teams and it remains to be seen if the three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year will ever win a title alongside James Harden.
Recently, Dwight made an appearance on Booker T’s Heated Conversations and was asked about his short stint with the Lakers. Howard was asked why it was only one year in Los Angeles and why he left for Houston:
The one year was because I was traded there and I had one year left on the contract. I think a lot of people felt like I was just leaving L.A. because of everything that was going on and I couldn’t handle the pressure, anything like that. But I just felt like, with L.A., the direction of their team, wasn’t where I was trying to go. And I looked at the city and the team of Houston, I just felt like this team and this city was headed in a different direction and the right direction. One of writing their own history.”
Howard went more in-depth, or at least as much as Dwight is capable, about his rough time in Los Angeles:
My time in L.A. was a little bit different because I was coming off an injury and also the fact that a lot of things were happening because of what happened in Orlando and how that situation ended. So a lot of people had feelings about that, but I went to L.A., I came back six months early from back surgery, which is unheard of, and I played my butt off and I gave that city everything I had every single night and I know it didn’t end on a great note, but I had an excellent time there. I didn’t run away from L.A., I ran to Houston.”
Unfortunately for the Lakers, the team is coming off two consecutive seasons without a playoff appearance and appears to have one year left with Kobe Bryant leading the way. Although the Lakers are in an unfavorable position, the franchise was able to bring in two promising young players in Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson.
There’s no telling how long the Lakers will struggle or if they’ll be able draw big-name talent in free agency in the years to come. General manager Mitch Kupchak and company will do everything within their power to rebuild in the post-Kobe Bryant era with crucial summer ahead, but there’s no guarantee of a quick turnaround.[divide]
Lakers Nation’s 2015 NBA Draft Podcast