Dallas Mavericks: Dwight Howard
HOUSTON -- Different All-Star city, same mixed messages from Dwight Howard regarding his future.
Howard confirmed Friday he has received assurances from Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak that he wouldn't be dealt by next week's trade deadline despite his unwillingness to commit to an extension or a new contract after the season.
Asked during Friday's All-Star media session if he'd be shocked if the Lakers traded him in the coming days, Howard said: "Well, they told me they weren't going to trade me. So, yeah, I would be surprised."
Howard spent much of his 30-minute session with reporters trying to deflect questions about his future. But ultimately, he said he wouldn't be pressured by anyone into making a decision about his future before the end of the season.
"The only thing that matters is the present, and right now," Howard said. "There's no need to talk about what's going to happen at the end of the season. No reason to go back and forth about it. I just feel like at the end of the year, I should have my opportunity to make my own decision. I shouldn't be criticized for waiting for the end of the year."
Without some kind of indication from Howard, the Lakers could risk losing the league's best center in free agency this summer without getting key assets in return. Orlando faced the same dilemma this time last season, but ultimately got Howard to waive an early termination contract clause that would have allowed him to enter free agency last summer.
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