According to the report, Olajuwon also thinks Howard will stay in Los Angeles, despite being a free agent at the end of the 2012-13 season. Howard has been non-commital about his plans following a season that has been riddled with injuries and controversy. When asked whether or not he believed he would stay in Los Angeles despite all of that, Olajuwon was more candid.
“I think so,” Olajuwon said. “I think so. Because that is where he wanted to be. He wanted to go there.”
The initial thinking surrounding Howard’s trade out of Orlando was that he wanted to play for the Brooklyn Nets.
Olajuwon has become close with Howard after working with the three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year over the course of several offseasons. The greatest player in Rockets history and all-time great has made a name for himself by helping some of the NBA’s most noteworthy stars work on their post games.
No one knows what Howard is going to do ultimately, but this adds fuel to a fire that’s burning red hot right now in Los Angeles as the 23-27 Lakers fight their way through the injury bug and on-court issues that have them looking up at most of the Western Conference in the standings and out of the playoffs.
Howard is slated to make more money — what could amount to $5 million more per season — if he decides to stay with the Lakers after he becomes a free agent. But the gravity of the issues this season have caused fans, the media and perhaps even the front office to question his intent due to these circumstances. Still, Olajuwon remained confident.
“He loves L.A.,” Olajuwon added after revealing what Howard told him in 2011. “He feels like it’s a great chance for him to win a championship, and he wants to be another great center for the Lakers of the future. He thought it was the best fit for him personally. He came to us (in 2011 with one of his representatives to Olajuwon’s ranch outside Houston) and they already thought that should be the destination.”
The Lakers are banking on all of these facts — Howard has complete freedom to do what he wants, but the thinking around Laker-land is that the prestige of the franchise and the opportunity to win titles every year are so appealing that he won’t want to leave. General manager Mitch Kupchak said he would not trade Howard, indicating confidence that he will re-sign since the result of him going to another team would be getting no compensation whatsoever for the big man.
Again, any comments with regard to Howard’s thought process has to be taken with a grain of salt, but it’s difficult to ignore “The Dream’s” revelation.