The Dwight Howard era in Los Angeles didn’t go as planned. The Lakers brass wanted to groom Dwight to be the future face of the franchise in the twilight of Kobe Bryant’s career, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, the Houston Rockets became a more desirable destination for Dwight in free agency. Dwight wasn’t convinced the Los Angeles had a better chance to contend in the short-term compared to Houston, especially after Kobe’s Achilles injury.
Oddly enough, even though Kobe and Dwight never really saw eye-to-eye in Los Angeles, the veteran guard didn’t throw his former teammate under the bus when given the opportunity.
In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated’s Chris Ballard, Kobe said the following about Dwight:
“We figured it out. It goes to what I said before, if you look at the second half of that season, what we accomplished? Ri-dic-ulous. We were five games out of the playoffs going into the All-Star break. Dead water, in the west. But we managed to figure that s–t out and put ourselves in the No. 8 spot and unfortunately an injury happened but we were playing so well. Going into the end of the season, anything could have happened. So even though on the surface it didn’t work, [Dwight] figured a way to do what we needed him to do, and I figured out the best way to reach him.”
In terms of working it out, the Lakers did start to come together in the second half of the season as Kobe suggests. Unfortunately, it was too late and not nearly enough to convince Dwight that the future was bright in Los Angeles.
Ultimately, the Lakers were swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs. Dwight then chose to sign a long-term deal with the Rockets in July of that summer. Dwight’s departure in free agent left the Lakers empty-handed and in unfamiliar territory with an injured superstar and a rebuilding process on the horizon.[divide]
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