Dwight Howard's friend and former AAU teammate, Josh Smith, believes that the Los Angeles Lakers center will re-sign with his current team as a free agent this summer. The Atlanta Hawks forward and fellow Atlanta native told the Los Angeles Daily News that he believes Howard's loyalty will keep him from leaving the Lakers despite struggles on the court and criticisms off it.
"It would be a shock to me (if Howard left the Lakers)," Smith told the Daily news.
"Dwight is a loyal athlete and loyal person," Smith said. "He's not a quitter and doesn't run from situations. That's why I believe with this franchise and the way he's talked so well about it, I can't see him going anywhere."
Though Smith and Howard said they often talk casually about playing together in the future, Smith said he didn't have anything but a guess as to how Howard will handle his free agency. Still, there has been anticipation that Howard could bolt Los Angeles, especially since rumors of a poor relationship with teammate Kobe Bryant have surfaced.
The Hawks could be one of his potential landing spots if Howard decides to leave. Atlanta will have a lot of salary-cap flexibility, and the Howard-Smith relationship makes it an obvious guess that the two would consider joining forces.
But financially, Howard staying put in Los Angeles makes sense. He'll be able to make another $30 million guaranteed under a five-year contract extension with the Lakers rather than a four-year deal elsewhere.
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