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Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Howard puts Brooklyn in the rearview

By Dave McMenamin

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- With all the drama surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers since the start of training camp -- from a winless preseason, to Steve Nash getting hurt, Mike Brown being fired, Phil Jackson being spurned and Mike D'Antoni being hired -- Dwight Howard has flown relatively under the radar.

It wasn't too long ago that Howard's name couldn't stay out of the headlines as his exit from Orlando played out in the press. The All-Star center's situation became commonly referred to as the "Dwightmare."

Howard's inspired play just six months removed from back surgery has helped people move on from the soap opera that surrounded him during the summer. He is averaging 20 points (60.8 percent shooting), 11.4 rebounds and 2.7 blocks through the Lakers' first 10 games. However, with the Brooklyn Nets coming to town to play the Lakers this week, Howard was reminded Monday about his supposed preferred destination.

"I’m here now," Howard said after practice Monday, a day before the Lakers host the visiting Nets at Staples Center. "I’m in L.A. There’s no need to talk about what could have happened. I’m happy with being here in L.A. Like I’ve said, the fans have always been great here, and now that I’m on the team, the fans from Day 1, they’ve just been unbelievable to me and to this team. So I’m just happy about that."

Howard reportedly talked with Nets point guard Deron Williams about teaming up and making a fresh start together when the franchise moved to Brooklyn before the team re-signed Brook Lopez and traded for Joe Johnson, but Howard had little interest in talking about Williams now that they are opponents.

"That’s my decision," Howard said. "My life. If he’s upset because I made a decision for me, then so be it. If he doesn’t want to be friends because I’m on another team, then so be it. There’s no need to smooth things over."

Despite Howard's and Williams' mutual interest in playing with one another, it got to the point when a deal hadn't been reached that Williams told Nets general manager Billy King not to wait to see if he could try to acquire the three time Defensive Player of the Year.

"One thing Deron did say to me, he said, 'Please, just don't wait on Dwight. We can't wait and not have a team,'" King said during the premiere of NBA TV's "The Association: Brooklyn Nets."

While the Lakers have limped out of the gates, reaching a .500 record (5-5) for the first time this season with a win over the Houston Rockets on Sunday, the Nets have started out hot. Brooklyn is 6-2 and comes into the matchup with L.A. on a five-game winning streak.

Yet there's no part of Howard that is wondering what might have been.

"It really doesn’t matter at this point," Howard said. "There’s no need to talk about the past. I’m happy being a Laker. I think this is the best situation for me. It’s what I need to move forward and I’m going to continue to get better."

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.