LOS ANGELES SPORTS WRITERS, having seen Dwight Howard flash that 900-kilowatt smile as he told their Orlando brethren how much he loved that town, decided they would not fall for the same line. "Why should we believe you?" they asked in several ways at Howard's introductory news conference in August, following the four-team deal that brought Howard to the Lakers. As he was last season, after hemming and hawing about his future in Orlando before waiving the early-termination clause in his contract and later asking to be traded, Howard is headed toward free agency. And everyone wants to know, Where are you going to go, Dwight? "Whatever happens a year from now, we'll wait until that time, but right now it's all about the Lakers and me starting fresh," Howard told the media. "I'm excited about that."
Lakers executive Jim Buss, son of owner Jerry, sat next to his sister and Lakers executive VP of business operations, Jeanie Buss. Both listened intently as Howard fended off the barrage of questions about his future.
Jeanie couldn't contain her shock. "You mean you haven't talked to him about that yet?"
Uh-oh. You can see why LA sports writers were so skeptical. While it remains to be seen whether Howard learned from last season's I'll-say-anything-so-you'll-love-me strategy, he isn't about to let Lakers suits in on his plans.