Dwight Howard-Kobe Bryant relationship a 'work in progress', Mitch Kupchak says

Jared Wickerham

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak told ESPN Radio that Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant are part of the club's short-term future, a window that extends through the end of next season. He reiterated Howard wouldn't be dealt at the trade deadline.

The Dwight Howard era in Los Angeles hasn't exactly gone smoothly - actually it has pretty much gone as unsmoothly as possible - but general manager Mitch Kupchak remained optimistic about his offseason acquisition. Tuesday, he told ESPN Radio that the big man is the future of the franchise and that his relationship with Kobe Bryant is "a work in progress".

There has been a lot of speculation about the Lakers potentially trading Howard at the upcoming trade deadline, even though Kupchak has gone on record saying that the team has no intention of dealing him. He was more in depth Tuesday while talking to Colin Cowherd, saying that although the team has received trade offers as recently as this morning, there was no chance the team would deal him. Of course, that won't end the speculation that the team is listening to offers from teams like the Atlanta Hawks, but it seems like Howard will stay in Los Angeles for now.

More interesting were some of Kupchak's statements about the future of the franchise. Kupchak told Cowherd that the team is in a two-year window for success, and that is predicated on the relationship between Dwight and Kobe, one he called a work in progress.

For starters, its no surprise their relationship has room to build - Andrew Sharp profiled its descent into full-on anarchy, and we just heard Kobe say on record he was indifferent about whether the team traded Dwight - but the comments about the two-year window are really intriguing. First off, its weird that he includes this year - a year the Lakers are 25-29, and 3.5 games out of the playoffs. It's odd that Kupchak isn't interested in a shake-up to get the team into contention if this year is, indeed, part of a two-year window for success. And then there's next year, which Howard might not be a part of considering he's a free agent after this season.

Kupchak hinted the reason the window doesn't extend further than that is Bryant's age. But it's also potentially worrisome for Lakers fans that Kupchak seems committed to locking the team into a pairing that hasn't worked out in a 50-plus game sample size.

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