When it comes to casting an adoring eye on an alluring basketball beauty and then seducing them and capturing their heart, the Lakers have been the Don Juan of the NBA for years.

From Wilt Chamberlain to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Shaquille O'Neal to Pau Gasol they set their sights high and routinely get what they want.

But the greatest gigolos will tell you the most captivating conquests are the ones that play hard to get, which probably explains the Lakers infatuation with Dwight Howard despite the signals he keeps sending he wants nothing to do with them.

The wise ones eventually get the picture, bow out gracefully and move on to their next object of admiration.

The foolish ones continue their quest, futile as it turns to be, and end up dejected at best, brokenhearted at worst.

Sometime within the next month or so, we're going to find out whether the Lakers are wise or foolish.

Because it's looking more and more like Howard does not feel for the Lakers nearly as strongly as they feel for him.

And if that truly is the case, how they handle the breakup will symbolize the conviction, wisdom and poise they'll carry into the future.

Uncertain and uncharted as it might be.

If you haven't been paying attention the past week or so, Howard is sending subtle yet obvious messages he wants to be anywhere but Los Angeles.

And as we inch closer to July 1st, when he can freely follow his heart to the city and eam and situation that makes him the happiest, it's becoming painfully clear Houston, Dallas, the Bay Area and Atlanta have all caught his eye.
The bigger point being, for whatever reason the Lakers just don't do it for him.

The reality being, they never did.

Which makes his increasingly likely departure no big surprise.

The signs have always led to that conclusion.

He arrived here from the Orlando Magic last summer reluctantly, his begrudging acceptance of his plight more about his disdain for the Magic than his love for the Lakers.

He was here only because he didn't want to be there.

If you were paying attention, you knew that.

As far back as two summers ago when the possibility of Howard leaving Orlando via trade began surfacing, he always seemed wary about playing for the Lakers.

We all foolishly ignored the hints, arrogantly believing once he stepped into the hallowed shoes of the Lakers he would immediately see the light and pledge the rest of his career to adding more championship banners.

Meanwhile, his true feelings were easy to detect.

Howard didn't want to follow in the footsteps of Shaquille O'Neal, those around him suggested.