The news is confirmed, the dust has settled and the Twitter avatar has been changed: Dwight Howard is on his way to the Houston Rockets after one tumultuous season with the Los Angeles Lakers. The embattled and oft-injured center spurned an additional $30 million before taxes in favor of a fresh start in the Lonestar State. But just what was it that made Howard’s brief stint with the Lakers so rocky, and should Lakers fans even be mad that he’s gone?
In a column for ESPN Los Angeles, Ramona Shelburne argues that it was miscommunication, misunderstanding and misgivings that ruined Howard’s relationship with Lakers players and brass from early on.
“The fact that Howard had such a hard time saying "no" to the Lakers at the end of it all, after everything that had happened, speaks once again to the crux of the issue: This seemed like a good marriage, and yet it was never even a good match,” she wrote. “Howard wasn't who the Lakers thought he was. And the Lakers weren't what Howard wanted them to be.”
Shelburne pointed to Howard’s displeasure with coach Mike D’Antoni’s fast-paced offensive system—even when the coach adapted it to use Howard more as a scorer, and frustration with fellow Lakers Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash after they neglected to defend him as he played through several injuries despite not asking them to or indicating that he need their help in anyway.
As far as whether or not Lakers fans should be upset, PolicyMic’s Steven Goldstein wrote Monday that while displeasure with Howard’s departure is natural, there’s no need or reason for the LA fateful “to be up in arms about a failed one-year experiment.”
“Howard had been in a Lakers uniform for 76 games; he'd been in the city of Los Angeles for less than a calendar year,” Goldstein wrote. “Dwight didn't break any oath or betray any loyalties, because there simply wasn't any loyalty to betray. Howard's coarse public image makes him seem like he's abandoning L.A., but he wasn't there long enough to warrant any visceral reaction to his departure. Dwight wasn't there for the beginning in Los Angeles, and there's no reason he had to be there for the end.”