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Lakers Trade Rumors: Kobe Bryant Would Support Dwight Howard Trade, Doubts Center's Commitment

By Melissa Siegel, Posted: 02/19/13 09:20AM EST

The NBA trade deadline is just a few days away, and rumors are still surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers, particularly forward Pau Gasol and center Dwight Howard. While general manager Mitch Kupchak insists his team will not make any moves, at least one deal would have the support of Los Angeles' star player.

Fox Sports reported on Tuesday that guard Kobe Bryant would support Kupchak if he traded Howard. Bryant, along with Gasol and fellow guard Steve Nash, apparently doubt Howard's toughness and commitment to the squad. They particularly wonder if he has the desire necessary to help lead the Lakers during their push for a postseason berth.

Los Angeles currently sits 3.5 games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference and is coming off a blowout defeat to the rival Clippers before the All-Star break.

Bryant and Howard have clashed at times this season, particularly during a team meeting in January. The Los Angeles Times reported that Bryant asked the center at the meeting if he disliked playing with the guard.

A few weeks later, Bryant told ESPN's Jackie MacMullan that the Lakers needed Howard to play through his shoulder injury. Bryant then clarified to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports that he meant no harm during the interview.

"Listen, I really think people ran in the wrong direction with those quotes," Bryant said. "And I think that put Dwight on the defense, put him a little on edge. But that wasn't the intention, nor the purpose."

Fox Sports also reports that Howard himself would be open to a trade, particularly to the Dallas Mavericks or Brooklyn Nets. The center, whose contract expires at the end of the 2013 season, would be willing to sign a long-term deal with either of those teams.

However, it's unclear if one of these teams is interested in making this trade rumor a reality. The New York Daily News reported in January that Brooklyn had not engaged in any talks for the center, instead choosing to back their own All-Star big man, Brook Lopez.

The Mavericks, however, could still be a destination for Howard. ESPN Dallas reported last week that owner Mark Cuban is looking to make a deal before this week's deadline, despite statements to the contrary from team president Donnie Nelson and coach Rick Carlisle. However, Cuban noted that he is having trouble finding a partner for a trade.

"It takes two teams to trade," Cuban said. "There's a lot of deals we would make [laughs], but nobody seems willing to do what we want to do. You never know, but nothing imminent. The bank's still open."

It is unclear if the Lakers are one of the team Cuban is referring to in this quote. However, the ESPN Dallas report noted that the Mavericks will still pursue Howard unless they can trade for an established player before the deadline.

The Atlanta Hawks were also rumored to be a potential destination for Dwight Howard. But, Chris Broussard of ESPN reported last week that the center has no desire to play for his hometown team.

Read More:

Lakers News: Kareem Abdul Jabbar Disses Lakers, Compares Team To Django Unchained; "Filled With Talent But Not Coming Together"

Players, Media, Coaches in Basketball Pay Respect To Jerry Buss

Dwight Howard Rumors: Kobe Mentions Vetoed Trade In Tweet, Shot at NBA and Howard?

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