He may have only been considered as a shoe-in as part of the Orlando deal that brought Dwight Howard to the Lakers. It’s unclear if Chris Duhon will even return to the Lakers, considering his minimal role and the possibility the Lakers could buy out at least part of his $3.75 million contract for next season.
But as a teammate with Howard both on the Magic and the Lakers no one has greater perspective than Duhon on whether the Lakers center will want to stay with the purple and gold.
“He could be happy here,” Duhon said. “Why not. It’s a great city and great town. Obviously it’s an organization and great tradition and proude and be one of those guys to get the statue.”
Howard hasn’t definitively shared his intentions. If he stays with the Lakers, he would receive $117.8 million over five years. If he signs with any other team, he will get a four-year deal worth $87.6 million. Meanwhile, the Lakers could shed Gasol’s $19.3 million left on his contract through a trade or the amnesty provision.
“He learned from Orlando,” Duhon said. “I always told him do what’s best for you.”
Plenty of things plagued Howard. He played through the entire season plagued by back surgery and a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Howard averaged 17.1 points and 12.4 rebounds, his lowest numbers since the 2006-07 season. Howard went through adjustments playing with Kobe Bryant, adapting to his domineering personality and handling the heightened media scrutiny.
Lakers’ 103-82 blowout Game 4 loss to the San Antonio Spurs officially ended the team’s disastrous season, Howard already ended his 22 minutes beforehand. Howard earned an ejection with 9:51 left in the second quarter after mouthing off to an official.
“He wasn’t healthy all year and wasn’t in shape,” Duhon said. “Obviously in LA, you saw flashes of who he is and now he has a whole summer to get in that type of shape he needs to be he player that he’s known to be.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org