The Lakers did not make any moves at the trade deadline Thursday, so Dwight Howard will remain part of the team until the end of the season. After that, Howard becomes a free agent -- but judging by his comments after the win against the Celtics, he appreciates being part of the global Lakers brand.
After Wednesday’s game, Howard expressed his thanks to Los Angeles Lakers’ General Manager Mitch Kupchak for taking to the airwaves and expressing his belief that Howard would one day have a statue outside Staples Center.
"Dwight is our future," Kupchak told "The Herd with Colin Cowherd" on ESPN Radio on Wednesday morning—a day before the trade deadline.
Kupchak did not hold back in stating his belief that Howard would have a jersey in the rafters and a statue in Star Plaza.
"Mitch, he sees a lot of great things in me," Howard said after Wednesday’s win over the Celtics. "And he knows what I want to be at the end of my career. And he feels this is the right place to do it. He’s always telling me to do certain things."
Howard has been up and down with the Lakers’ fan base this season, but his performance on Wednesday won over minds by dominating against a hated rival. Considering the pregame ceremony in honor of Dr. Jerry Buss, who passed away early Monday morning, Howard’s effort probably won over a great deal of hearts, too.
When asked if he appreciated the Lakers’ G.M. comments, the big center responded, "I’m thankful that he did that."
"I’ve been taking a lot of hits this year," Howard continued. "I would love to get up and hit back, but I don’t think it’s right for me to do that."
Little by little, Howard is beginning to publicly display trust and belief in the Lakers’ organization. His relationship with Kupchak has never been reported as strained, but the Lakers’ G.M. speaking on national radio and saying "We have no intention of trading Dwight Howard" speaks volumes on the Lakers’ belief in the center.
The trade deadline has come and gone, and Howard is still in Los Angeles. The organization has displayed faith in the big man, so now, the question is: Will Howard repay the faith?