Soon after reports surfaced that the Lakers might consider dealing Howard before the trade deadline in February, Howard said he plans to take more responsibility for the team's success and expects things to be different now. "I don't think we're at the point where you say, 'It's time for a trade,' and a trade happens in three to four days," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak told ESPN.com. "That's just not how this league works." On Wednesday morning, Howard said, according to ESPNLosAngeles.com. "I think this will be the start of a new season for us tonight. Hopefully our effort and energy is where it needs to be tonight. But, it starts with me. I have to bring it. I just think it will be different. Our mentality might be a little bit different." Howard was referring primarily to his own mindset. "I have to be more," said Howard. "I have to do more for this team. There are a lot of responsibilities on my shoulders. I have to step up and take it. It has to be me. It has to start with me. I'm a guy that has to dominate for us to win. We're not going to win unless I dominate." He also apologized for comments he made Monday following the Lakers' 95-83 loss to the Chicago Bulls, when he complained about getting only five shot attempts. "That's over with," Howard said. "I can't think about it. That was immature. I shouldn't have done it, but today is a new day and today is a new game." ---Sacramento isn't giving up its NBA team to Seattle without a fight. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA player, announced that a group of local investors pledged $1 million each to become minority owners and the city is pursuing a majority investor that will be necessary for any shot at keeping the franchise in California. The team was sold by the Maloof brothers to a group led by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer, who plan to move the Kings to Seattle before the start of next season. The sale will need approval from the NBA Board of Governors, but it is expected to pass. ---Phoenix Suns assistant coach Dan Majerle has left his job and fellow assistant Elston Turner remains away from the team after Lindsey Hunter took over as interim coach last week. Hunter, the team's player development director, replaced Alvin Gentry as head coach last Friday. The Suns called Gentry's departure a mutual agreement. Majerle, a popular former Suns player, and Turner were passed over for the job. ---The New Orleans franchise is expected to formally announce its new Pelicans nickname and reveal team colors and logos on Thursday, according to Yahoo Sports. The nickname change will take place before the start of next season. The team's color scheme reportedly will be blue, gold and red. The pelican is Louisiana's state bird. ---Center Tim Duncan and forward Kawhi Leonard will sit out the San Antonio Spurs' game Wednesday night against New Orleans, but guard Manu Ginobili will return, according to a report by the San Antonio Express News. Duncan has a sore left knee that also kept him out of last Saturday's game. Leonard fell on what he described as a nail in the floor near the end of Monday night's game against Philadelphia. He left the floor with a cut and didn't return. ---Guard-forward Chris Johnson signed a 10-day contract with the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday. Johnson, an undrafted free agent from Dayton, was playing in the NBA Development League for Rio Grande Valley, averaging 12.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.81 steals in 21 games this season. He is fourth in the D-League in three-pointers made (54) and is tied for sixth in steals (38). -- The New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers are each worth more than $1 billion, Forbes Magazine reported, and they become the first NBA franchises to pass the $1 billion mark. Forbes' most recent valuation of NBA franchise places the Knicks as the most valuable franchise at $1.1 billion, with the Lakers right behind at $1 billion. The $980 million renovation to Madison Square Garden has a lot to do with the Knicks' increased value. Lakers' guard Kobe Bryant makes the most money of any NBA player, according to Forbes' analysis of player earnings. Forbes estimates Bryant's total earnings in salary and endorsements for the year at $59.8 million. ---Los Angeles Lakers forward Jordan Hill had surgery on his left hip on Wednesday in Nashville, Tenn., the team announced. The surgery, which performed by Dr. Thomas Byrd, included the removal of loose fragments, repair of a torn labrum and a microfracture procedure to repair damaged cartilage. Hill is expected to be out approximately six months.
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