“We will not make a trade,” said Kupchak. “We will not
trade Dwight Howard. We have no intention
of making a trade. It’s unlikely that we’ll make any trade with any of
our principal players. To make another change at this time of the year
behind the eight-ball like we are, I think that would make it more
difficult. The talent is there. We have to find our way.”
Howard is in the final year of his contract but as Kupchak notes, the Lakers
have no plans to move him.
The Lakers (22-26) have struggled this season, both with injuries and
chemistry, but are still just 3½ games out of eighth place. The team has
recently won five of its last six.
The long-term goal for the Lakers is to keep Howard beyond the current
season. Head coach Mike D’Antoni has
struggled to integrate Pau Gasol and Howard on the floor
Gasol is under contract for $19 million this season and $19.3 million the
following year. The Lakers will be looking at significant luxury taxes,
especially next season when the tax rate increases exponentially.
It would appear that Gasol too is safe from trade, according to Kupchak. The
Lakers general manager also gave a word of support to the Lakers coach.
“We’re very happy with Mike D’Antoni,” Kupchak said. “I think
when he took the job I think he thought Nash [fractured left leg] might be out
a week or two. Not two months. Getting everybody on the same page took a little
longer than expected. Not to say it’s been smooth sailing, that’s for sure.