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The Return Of The Dwightmare?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Here we go again.

The Feb. 21 trade deadline is fast approaching and guess whose name is at the top of the list, just like last season? That’s right, Dwight Howard.  The formerly disgruntled Orlando Magic star has apparently been replaced by Dwight Howard, the disgruntled Los Angeles Lakers star. The Magic’s Dwightmare of a year ago now becomes the Lakers’ burden this time around.

And that means the wheels are turning in front offices around the league, what with the prospect of Howard becoming available before he becomes a free agent at season’s end, which for the Lakers could very well be mid-April.

These latest developments thrust other teams into the thick of the Howard sweepstakes, with prospective summer free-agent players Dallas and Atlanta joining the usual suspects (the Lakers and Brooklyn Nets) in the conversation. The Lakers’ pitiful season is what has reignited the Dwightmare dilemma … plus the fact that Brooklyn was his preferred destination all along.

And depending on who you listen to and what you read, there’s a dizzying array of possibilities being considered by the different sides in this saga.’s Jarrod Rudolph reports the Nets are ready to finish what they started last season and finally bring Howard to Brooklyn, with Brook Lopez (and a third team needed to help facilitate a deal) as the return piece. Of course, there is the obligatory return volley that says Lopez is safe, from Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, the best part coming at the end: “It’s not the same as it was last year,” said a Nets source. “We don’t need Dwight.”

Interesting. But that won’t slow down the stream of rumors suggesting otherwise.

With the Lakers stuck in the 12th spot in the Western Conference playoff chase, no one outside of Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash should feel comfortable in that Lakers’ locker room.

And if Kobe’s words, tweets and facial expressions mean anything, something has to change. Because it’s clear, as‘s Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein point out, that the real crack in the Lakers’ foundation is the rift between its two biggest stars:

“Obviously, this isn’t working,” Lakers star Kobe Bryant told Yahoo! Sports after the Chicago loss.

“I’ve tried to go out of my way to get (Howard) the ball. Sometimes I end up looking like an idiot, because I get up in the air, I’ve got a shot, but I try to find him. But he thinks I’m going to shoot, so his back is turned. I’m trying to think about getting him the ball a lot — take care of him as much as I possibly can. It takes me out of rhythm a little bit, but I’m fine with that. If that’s going to help our team, I’m more than willing to do that.

“I’ve constantly tried to help him out, tried to talk to him,” Bryant continued. “Two o’clock in the morning, three o’clock in the morning. Texting him. Sharing reading materials. Anything to try and help him.

“He’s coming off a major surgery in a market where it’s just merciless; where there’s demands and responsibilities of athletes. It’s been tough on him.”

The blame in L.A. has been widespread, with both Howard and Gasol facing criticism for not battling through these tough times with the needed resolve. D’Antoni getting second-guessed with rising volume for not tweaking his spread-the-floor system to accommodate his marquee players and Bryant critiquing himself this week for missing too many shots on an 0-2 road trip that has spiraled into six straight losses away from Staples Center and three straight losses overall heading into Thursday’s game at Memphis.

If Lakers fans have to pick a side, Howard might as well start packing his bags now. In the past, they’ve chosen Kobe in landslides over former big man Shaquille O’Neal and ex-coach Phil Jackson, among others. Howard doesn’t stand a chance in winning over the fan base, the franchise and perhaps most importantly, the locker room.

It seems pretty obvious that Kobe and Nash have gone out of their way to make Howard feel as comfortable as possible and still these issues persist. With time running out on their season and that Feb. 21 escape hatch getting closer and closer, something has to give …

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 87) With Jarrod N. Rudolph And Will Leitch

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — With all due respect to the men working hard at their hoop dreams in Las Vegas and the patriots toiling away with USA Basketball on their way to the Olympics, the two most talked about basketball players in the world today are Jeremy Lin and Dwight Howard, put them in whatever order you prefer.

Lin’s on his way to Houston, the product of a free agency saga almost as intriguing as the Linsanity movement he inspired months ago when he was starring for the New York Knicks. Howard is on his way to … well, we’re still not sure where the Orlando Magic superstar will end up. But he’s in Los Angeles these days, the object of affection and scorn for fans from coast to cast, it just depends on where you are at any given moment.

We’re giving them both all of our attention on Episode 87 of the Hang Time Podcast, enlisting the services of two men well-versed in the art of discussion where both Lin and Howard are concerned. When discussing anything about Howard, RealGM columnist Jarrod N. Rudolph is the man in the know. He joins us to break down dynamics of the Howard situation in ways you haven’t heard before. New York Magazine contributing editor and Deadspin founder Will Leitch makes his Hang Time Podcast debut to help us measure the outrage felt throughout the Five Boroughs (and beyond) after the Knicks’ decision to let Lin walk for a measly, relatively speaking of course, $25.1 million.

Check out all that and more on Episode 87 of the Hang Time Podcast featuring RealGM columnist Jarrod N. Rudolph and Deadspin founder and New York Magazine contributing editor Will Leitch (who lives in Brooklyn but hasn’t given into the dark side just yet and started rooting for the Nets).


As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Lang Whitaker of SLAM Magazine and Sekou Smith of, as well as our superproducer Micah Hart of’s All Ball Blog and the best engineer in the business, Jarell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.

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