Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak quickly refuted trade rumors that surfaced Friday around Lakers center Dwight Howard and Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo.
CBSSports.com reported Friday that the Lakers and Celtics were in preliminary trade talks involving the two players, that would add a third to the equation.
“I haven’t talked to Danny Ainge in weeks,” Kupchak told ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard. “I made that statement a week or two ago that we’re not going to trade Dwight Howard and that hasn’t changed.”
Howard addressed the media Friday in Houston while preparing for Sunday’s All-Star Game and discussed the possibility of being traded, even though Kupchak assured him that he was going to remain a Laker for the rest of the season.
“Well, they told me they weren’t going to trade me,” Howard said when asked if he would be shocked if he was traded. “So, yeah, I would be surprised.”
Howard would not address any questions about his future with the team, but said he was not going to be pressured by anyone to make a preliminary decision about his free agency this season.
“The only thing that matters is the present and right now,” Howard said. “There’s no need to talk about what’s going to happen at the end of the season. No reason to go back and forth about it.”
The trade for Rondo, who is out for the rest of the season due to a partial ACL tear, would make things complicated for the Lakers at the guard the position. They signed point guard Steve Nash during the offseason, not to mention that their frontcourt is already limited with the injury to Pau Gasol. Dealing Howard would leave their frontcourt limited.
But Howard told Broussard during Friday’s Celebrity All-Star Game that he feels the Lakers can make a push for a playoff berth in the second half of the season.
The Lakers are currently 25-29 after Thursday’s 125-101 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers and are in the 10th spot of the Western Conference standings.