HOUSTON — Some things change. Some things don’t.
The main difference in his All-Star experience from a year ago in Orlando is that Dwight Howard isn’t wondering whether he’ll finish out the season same with his team.
“They told me they weren’t going to trade me,” Howard said at Friday’s media availability. That message was delivered, he said, by Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak.
Of course, that will hardly stop the speculation that swirls about every move and twitch of the Lakers in a wildly disappointing season that has them four games under .500 at the All-Star break and in danger of missing the playoffs.
Howard, who is coming off back surgery and currently playing with a torn labrum in his shoulder, is averaging his fewest points since his second year in the NBA and that has some suggesting that the Lakers should unload him by the Feb. 21 trade deadline, especially since he could choose to leave next summer as a free agent.
“I should have the opportunity to make my own decision,” Howard said. “I shouldn’t be pressured or criticized for waiting till the end of the year. It’s not fair to the fans, or the team.
“I’m not gonna deal with it. I had to deal with it all last year. I got to do what makes me happy. That’s it.”
What makes Howard happy these days?
“Having fun on the court,” he said. “That makes me happy.”
Is he having much fun this season?
“At the present time, no,” he said. “Hopefully it gets better.”
Why isn’t he smiling on the court these days.
“I got criticized for it,” he said.
What is taking the fun away?
“Stop digging, man,” Howard said. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
New year. New team. Same old story.