A quick look around Twitter -- better known as the land of slightly amusing banter and verbal extremism -- will yield the fact that much of Los Angeles is fed up with Howard and his antics after just half of one season. It appears, however, that the Lakers are going to continue to mortgage their long-term future on the ailing back of the three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
General manager Mitch Kupchak has had to play his own version of lock-down defense this season as questions have continually come up about the team's uncertain future and more importantly, that of their biggest offseason acquisition in Howard.
Just like he was in his playing days, Kupchak has remained relentless in his approach to the undying question.
"We've been consistent," he told ESPN's "The Herd with Colin Cowherd", "We're not trading Dwight Howard… He will not be traded and there's nothing anybody can do today to call me and ask me, 'Would you do this?' and get a positive result."
Teams have echoed that sentiment, saying that any call to the Lakers has resulted in a proverbial "click" on the other end from the Lakers' front office. Howard is their future, for better or worse.
What exactly does that future hold?
In the best-case scenario, it would be stability in a long-term deal with Howard a clean bill of health after he recovers from a torn labrum in his right shoulder and a debilitating back injury that continues to limit him to season averages of 16.3 points, 11.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per contest in 48 games.
Mix in a little bit of maturity, and the Lakers win -- sort of. They'd still have to find a way to make the Mike D'Antoni--Howard--Kobe Bryant dynamic work. That's another serious challenge even if things work out for the best.
But we're talking about Los Angeles, the land of basketball hyperbole. Hollywood doesn't operate at its finest around best-case scenarios.
It, like the relentless viewing public, wants a good disaster movie.
That's precisely what the script around Laker-land could call for if things go south. Howard could walk out on the Lakers this summer with him being nothing more than an expensive rental with a negative ROI.
Worse yet, the Lakers would still be in salary cap purgatory as they are still on the hook for Bryant's astronomical cap figure ($30.4 million) and that of Metta World Peace ($7.7M), Pau Gasol ($19.2M) and Steve Nash ($9.3M) for 2013-14.
That's not a group that anyone can feel good about making a deep run next season sans Howard.
But even this year with Howard, healthy or not, is still in question. Despite that, the Lakers will sink or swim with him. Kupchak made that abundantly clear.
The way things have gone, that's become a scary proposition for all of the purple-and-gold faithful.
Michael C. Jones covers the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA. He contributes regularly to SB Nation and is the Editor of Sports Out West.
Catch up with him on Twitter @MikeJonesTweets
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