Dwight Howard's first, and perhaps only, season with the Los Angeles Lakers has come to an end. Howard's contract will expire this summer and he will become an unrestricted free agent. His future holds more questions than answers, as the Lakers will certainly offer him a max contract, but whether or not he returns to a team that was just swept in the first round of the NBA playoffs is unclear.
Making matters worse for L.A. is the status of Kobe Bryant, who will be rehabilitating a torn Achilles through the offseason.
Howard wasn't able to stay with his team through their final moments of the season, though, as he was ejected in the third quarter after being called for his second technical foul. Will Howard's career with the Lakers end with an ejection in the fourth quarter, just as it did for Andrew Bynum?
Howard did not elaborate on the ejection, citing it was just "frustration" and that "nothing can be done about it now." Pau Gasol also commented on the ejection in his postgame press conference, saying he "Didn't want to see him get ejected" and that the Lakers "needed him on the floor."
Postgame, Howard was non-committal about his future, repeatedly stating that he will "reflect" on the season that was before considering his future. After years of indecision with the Orlando Magic, which eventually led to his trade to Los Angeles, Howard will be a free agent who can decide where he will sign his next contract.
The soon-to-be free-agent center said the Lakers' 2012-13 season was "Like a nightmare" when asked to summarize the year. He also talked about the difficulty of coming back from major back surgery, stating he felt pain throughout the entire season, but tried to fight through it.
What's next for Howard? "I'm going to step away from everything for a couple weeks and clear my head before I do or talk about anything as far as next season," he stated. "I think I deserve that and that's what I'm going to do." What comes next is anybody's guess, but Howard took an early exit from his season with the Lakers while the Spurs finished off his wounded team.