The Los Angeles Lakers are not confident that Dwight Howard will return and have privately reconsidered the possibility of sign-and-trade options for the superstar center, ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein report. The organization fears they could be fourth in Howard's preferred destinations, forcing the front office to "look at everything."
Questions "inside and outside" the franchise regarding Howard's "ability and willingness" to co-exist with Kobe Bryant and Mike D'Antoni have raised doubts that he will decide to re-sign with the Lakers, according to the report from Shelburne and Stein.
The Lakers are "bracing for the worst."
All prior reports have indicated that the Lakers would not consider any sign-and-trade deals as they remained confident Howard would return to the purple and gold and would prefer cap space if he decides to walk. With the Golden State Warriors reportedly willing to trade a package of Andrew Bogut and either Klay Thompson or Harrison Barnes in exchange for Howard, they've raised the stakes by "aggressively attempting" to clear cap space in order to make an outright offer to Howard.
Howard could make his decision Friday, according to rumors that circulated after he concluded his meeting with the Lakers on Tuesday.
The latest report doesn't instill very much confidence, but is to be expected. Mitch Kupchak and the Lakers front office are preparing for a decision that is completely out of their hands, and it's their job to do what's best for the organization under any circumstance.
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