Different year. Same story.
For the second straight season at the All-Star Weekend, Dwight Howard’s future has become the big topic of conversation.
He wouldn’t talk about his future past this season – not much anyway – but he did talk about his future this season with the Lakers. He expects to stay in L.A. because that’s what the Lakers told him.
“They told me they weren’t going to trade me, so I’d be surprised,” Howard said on Friday at the Hilton Americas in downtown Houston two days before the All-Star Game.
The trade deadline is Feb. 21. Aside from that, Howard still refused to talk about his future. The 27-year-old center will become a free agent after this season.
“The only thing that matters is the present and right now,” Howard said. “There’s no need for me to talk about what happens at the end of the season. There’s no need to go back and forth about it. I just feel like at the end of the year, I should have my opportunity to make my own decision. I shouldn’t be pressured or criticized for waiting (until) the end of the year. I don’t think it’s fair for my teammates, I don’t think it’s fair for the fans or anybody to be worried about what’s going to happen at the end of the year.
“Our job is to come out and play hard every night. We have to live in the moment. No body can control what happens at the end of the year.”
Howard was asked if it’s difficult for him to not talk about his future.
“It’s not for me,” he said. “Everybody else wants me to talk about the future. Me, the only thing I’m concerned about is the halfway point of the season, All-Star Weekend, continue to train and see if I can come back and have a pretty good second half.”
Howard, in his ninth season in the NBA, is averaging 16.3 points and 11.8 rebounds per game this season and has been dealing with a shoulder injury. He said he isn’t worried about injuring his shoulder in the All-Star game because he doesn’t expect opponents to intentionally foul him.
At 25-29, the Lakers are 10th in the Western Conference, behind Houston and Portland for the eighth and final spot in the playoffs. Howard said he still expected the Lakers to make the playoffs even after the rough start.
“I didn’t expect for it to go as sour as it’s going but there’s always room for improvement,” Howard said when asked about the Lakers’ season thus far. “We’ve had to battle a lot of things, coming off injuries, guys getting injured, us not winning, just all the drama that is on the outside of the locker room. We’ve had to deal with a lot but I think for the most part, as a team we’ve done a good job of staying strong and staying together but it’ll get better.”
This is Howard’s seventh All-Star Game appearance and he’s been the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year three times.
But this February, Howard finds himself in a similar situation as the one he was in last season, with his future being questioned. Last season, Howard was still a member of the Orlando Magic and his future was being questioned. He was then traded to the Lakers as a part of a three-team trade on Aug. 10.
“I’m not going to deal with it,” he said. “I had to deal with it all last year, so I’m not going to do it again.”
Different year. Same story.