In an interview with Lakers reporter Mike Trudell on Lakers.com, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak’s sentiments toward Dwight Howard haven’t changed. Rebuilding the franchise around Dwight is still the Lakers number one priority this off-season despite the lack of clarification from Howard himself. Kupchak’s reasoning? That Dwight is of Hall Of Fame caliber.
“Dwight is in a category of the great of the great. He’s over his back injury and there’s no reason he can’t play seven or eight more years at that position, and there’s no doubt in my mind, if he does, he’s in the Hall of Fame, and those players are just hard to come by.”
Dwight Howard averaged 17.1 points, 12.4 rebounds and 2.45 blocks in his first season as a Laker, but in the interview Kupchak said it was Dwight’s stretch later in the season that was most telling of his ability.
“Most importantly, you saw what he can do later on in the season, he had a stretch in February or March where, I think it was like 16 or 17 rebounds a game and maybe a little bit less, maybe 14 rebounds a game – 20, 22 points a game for 15 (games), and that’s more reflective of what Dwight can do for this team.”
Dwight averaged 15.1 points, 12.3 rebounds and two blocks per game in February, but for the 15 games he played in March he averaged 17.9 points, 15.2 rebounds and 2.87 blocks. In those 15 games, with the exception of the Lakers game in Oklahoma City, Dwight recorded double doubles each game.
Kupchak told reporters last week that he expected Dwight Howard to test the free agency waters come July 1st, but also felt confidence knowing that Dwight wouldn’t be able to sign anything until July 10th. He compared Dwight’s current situation with the Lakers to Kobe deciding to resign with the Lakers in 2004 and noted that everything worked out for the Lakers then. Will it this time around? We’ll just have to wait and see.
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