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Kobe Bryant's Achillies injury could force Lakers to resign Dwight Howard

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If there was any doubt as to whether Dwight Howard was going to return to the Lakers next season, that all changed the minute Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles tendon against the Warriors Friday night.Photo: giantbomb.com

 

The MRI results confirmed the worst on Saturday, and Bryant faces six to nine months of recovery and rehab. However, Bryant’s work ethic is matched by few. He could be back sooner than expected. However, as we saw from Ryan Howard’s recovery from an Achilles injury, you might be able to play, but how well CAN you play?

 

Despite being 34 years of age, Bryant was still averaging slightly over 27 points per game this season. He IS the machine that makes the Lakers go. No ifs, ands, or any buts whatsoever. Even if the Lakers grab the eighth seed in the Western Conference, there is no way possible they will do any damage in the playoffs this season without Bryant in the lineup.

 

Moreover, the effects of Bryant’s injury will be felt by the Lakers into next season and beyond. Even more so if the team fails to resign Dwight Howard, who will become a free agent this summer. The Lakers might have no choice but to try and resign Howard, despite some ups and downs in his first season in a Lakers uniform.

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For the time being, Howard is the go-to guy who will get most of the touches. As he did in 2009 with the Magic, Howard has shown he is capable of leading a team to the NBA Finals. However, Howard’s character is often in question, so it remains to be seen as to whether he can be a consistent leader. Much like the scenario with the Sixers and Andrew Bynum, the Lakers have to ask themselves what other possibilities remain if they decide to part company with their respective center.

 

Much like the Yankees, the Lakers DON’T rebuild. In an ideal world (which is usually the one the Lakers live in), a perfect scenario would be for Bryant (although he’d most likely do this unwillingly) to pass the torch to Howard as he winds down his career, but this could all come a lot sooner than anybody thought with the recent turn of events.

 

With Metta World Peace coming off knee surgery and Steve Nash constantly battling injuries, Pau Gasol (who has also battled injuries) would remain the only major offensive threat on a Lakers team without Bryant and Howard (barring any significant free agent signings). Make no mistake, the Lakers wouldn’t be quite the mess the Sixers might become this summer, but they seriously would need to reevaluate the direction of the franchise with an injured (as well as aging) Bryant facing an uncertain future.

 

And although Howard is somewhat of an unproven commodity from a leadership standpoint, the Lakers’ future probably looks even more bleak at this point if they let him walk.



 

 Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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Photo: giantbomb.com