The Lakers already knew they were getting damaged goods when they traded for Dwight Howard. That’s not news in any way. Howard’s back was a back page story until all the trade talk trumped injury concerns. While we might be months away from the start of the season there is already talk of Howard being out of action once the Lake Show begins its title quest.
One report states Howard still has yet to be cleared for either weight lifting or any basketball related activities. Meanwhile the L.A. Times has already put together lineups and scenarios that could unfold for the Lakers should they be Howard-less once the season tips.
Now if the media is speculating on this then you’ve got to believe the Lakers are preparing for the same. How could they not?
Before any talk of a Howard trade commenced Mitch Kupchak would have had to do his due diligence. That means not only examining Howard’s back for future problems but also putting a plan in place to play without him.
During the offseason the Lakers did address some of their depth issues amongst their post players. Jordan Hill was retained, Antawn Jamison signed and Robert Sacre drafted. Of course they also lost some size in dealing Andrew Bynum as part of the Howard trade.
Losing Bynum hardly matters so long as Howard is healthy. However minus Howard the Lakers are stuck playing Pau Gasol at the five or possibly starting Hill in the middle instead. Whatever the case Mike Brown just needs a Plan B in place.
Big men with back problems tend to be troubled by those issues throughout their careers. Assuming Howard will rehab, come into the season in shape and ready to play 30+ minutes is foolish. He’s going to miss some time or at least be limited early on. That could work in L.A.’s favor though as there will be plenty of adjustments this season and the more roles more players are familiar with the better.
Bottom line is the Lakers appear headed to a season opener without Howard. Coach Brown had better be prepared for it even if that’s not the case. He might only be entering his second season in Los Angeles yet already the seat is getting hot for Brown. Same goes for Howard who will have to prove not only his health but also his championship pedigree. Too bad we most likely won’t get any of those answers on opening night.