Spend a week around Lakers camp, and it sounds like the team made a huge acquisition this past offseason.
Losing Dwight Howard.
They suggest that when the Lakers tout about how they’re now a season removed from never-ending drama. They imply that when the Lakers mention how they acquired players this offseason that want to be here. And then it becomes obvious when someone, such as Kobe Bryant, just comes out and says it.
“It changes the dynamic of the team,” Bryant said in a recent interview with CNN. “I think the pieces fit a little bit better so hopefully we have better results.”
Bryant’s making that argument for various reasons.
The Lakers acquired veteran center Chris Kaman, whose mid-range jumper and pick-and-roll skill complements Pau Gasol’s versatile skillset. The Lakers also added some youth and length with Nick Young, Wesley Johnson and Jordan Farmar. And then let’s be real.
Howard left the Lakers despite earning $30 more million with an extra year on his contract and billboards around Los Angeles pleading him to stay. Howard and Bryant frequently clashed last season over their contrasting leadership styles and their role on offense, a subject that came up during the Lakers’ free agency meeting with Howard.
“I think he had plenty of opportunities,” Bryant said. “I just think philosophically that relationship was never going to work.”
Still, very few outside of the Lakers believe that will actually happen, a scary proposition considering the Lakers’ star-studded lineup last season amounted to nothing more than a first-round sweep to the San Antonio Spurs. Instead, ESPN.com ranked the Lakers 12th out of 15 Western Conference teams. Magic Johnson voiced the concern of many that Bryant’s recover from a torn left Achilles tendon could dictate whether the Lakers sneak into the playoffs or miss it altogether. Putting drama and his limitations stemmed from offseason back surgery aside, Howard’s departure leaves a gaping hole for the Lakers to fill defensively.
But the Lakers sound determined they’d rather have to deal with a drop off in talent than going through another season filled with conflicting agendas and personality clashes.
“It’s different perspectives. I have a way that I think winning should be done, which is hard work and a challenging nature,” Bryant said. “So you and I, if we were working together, you have to challenge me just as I have to challenge you. A lot of times that makes people uncomfortable. But I don’t think you can argue with the results.”
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