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Report: Lakers GM denies discussing Howard trade with Celtics

The SportsXchange

Reports about the possibility of Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard being traded before the Feb. 21 deadline are becoming confusing.

First Howard told reporters on Friday that Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak had told him that he would not be traded.

Several hours later, however, CBSSports.com reported that the Lakers have had preliminary discussions with the Boston Celtics about a possible trade involving Howard and the Celtics' Rajon Rondo.

Kupchak then responded to that report by telling ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard that there have been no such discussions.

"I haven't talked to (Celtics general manager) Danny Ainge in weeks," Kupchak told Broussard. "I made the statement a week or two ago that we're not going to trade Dwight Howard and that hasn't changed."

Kupchak said a Howard-for-Rondo trade had not been discussed with the Celtics at any time this season.

The CBSSports.com report suggested the Celtics and Lakers had only preliminary trade talks with the Celtics regarding Howard and Rondo, and that the proposed deal "hasn't gained any traction."

Other players would have to be involved for talks to become serious, because Rondo's $11 million salary is quite a bit less than Howard's $19.5 million.

Howard will become a free agent at the end of the season. Earlier Friday he told reporters, "(The Lakers) told me they weren't going to trade me. I'd be surprised. They told me they wouldn't trade me. That's what (Kupchak) said."

Kupchak said much the same thing in a recent interview with Newsday.

Howard refused to say anything definitive about whether he plans to stay with the Lakers after this season.

"The only thing that matters is the present," Howard said. "And right now 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 decision."
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