According to Eric Pincus of the L.A. Times, when asked if Dwight Howard sees himself as the Lakers’ cornerstone following Kobe Bryant’s retirement, this is what the superstar center had to say:
“Yeah, I do. That’s what we’ve always talked about since the first day I got here.”
As usual, though, he backed up on his comments a bit and remained noncommittal, which is normal:
“The only thing that matters is right now. Nobody can control what happens this off-season. There’s no need for me to make the decision right now to where I’m going to be in the future, but my goal hasn’t changed. I want to win a championship and I want to win one here. I’m here right now.”
In that sense, he’s saying all the right things. He’s likely still unsure of where he’ll end up signing regardless of what many may believe. Perhaps it will depend on how far the Lakers go, how he feels about the coaching system at the end of the season, or his relationship with his teammates. Ultimately, the decision is his, but no one can truly fault him for not committing to a team mid-season in a contract year; especially when his role within the system is still in question and the team is struggling.
He then went on to acknowledge that his impact on this team must be greater, despite his back and shoulder injuries:
“I could be more. It starts with me,” he said, saying he needed to get in better shape while battling back and shoulder injuries. “I don’t want anybody to feel sorry for me, but it is tough. It’s not as easy as I was expecting it to be, but I did come back early … I’m going to do whatever I can to really get my body, my mind and my spirit in the right place to help this team.”
Perhaps his injuries have contributed to what others perceive as unhappiness, as it seems as though Dwight is a hawk (no pun intended) whose wings have been clipped, which would discourage anyone.
In the same breath, Howard must make good on his promise to help the team in any way he can, as when he truly puts forth a solid effort, the team actually looks decent defensively.
At the end of the day, this is yet another sound byte from Dwight Howard in a season full of them.
UPDATE: Last night, Howard definitely “was more” on both ends of the floor. Hopefully, he, as well as the rest of the team, can keep it up!