Hakeem Olajuwon is sticking with his belief that Dwight Howard will re-sign this summer with the Los Angeles Lakers. If Howard is thinking differently, Olajuwon figures Howard will let him know.
In a phone interview with Fox Sports Florida, Olajuwon, a Hall of Fame center, said Howard told him in the summer of 2011 that he wanted out of Orlando after eight seasons primarily due to how he was being used by then-Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, and that he wanted to end up with the Lakers.
That, of course, is what eventually happened. Howard, who asked to be traded, was dealt last August to the Lakers. But things haven't turned out well. The center has struggled at times while recovering from back surgery and has missed six games in the past month due to shoulder injury.
The Lakers are just 23-27 and in jeopardy of missing the playoffs, especially after having just lost forward Pau Gasol for at least six weeks due to a foot injury. They play at Miami on Sunday, when Howard is expected to make his first Florida appearance since leaving the Magic.
Olajuwon, who is close to Howard and had extended workouts with him during the summers of 2010 and 2011 at Olajuwon's ranch outside Houston, has spent most of this season in Amman, Jordan. But Olajuwon, who splits his time between Jordan and Texas, will be at All-Star Weekend Feb. 15-17 in Houston, where he plans to meet with Howard, a starter for the Western Conference.
"I want to catch up and see how (Howard) really feels," said Olajuwon, the greatest player in Rockets history, who will serve as a judge for the NBA's Feb. 16 dunk contest and be honored at the Feb. 17 Legends Brunch. "My first concept is to make him feel comfortable... The key is to make him comfortable so that he can open up and I know what the issues are (that concern Howard)."
Olajuwon, with his tremendous knowledge of basketball and his calming influence, has developed close relationships since his 2002 retirement with a number of NBA stars. Five other All-Stars (Bryant, LeBron James, Amar'e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Brook Lopez) have worked out with Olajuwon in recent years.
Howard has been noncommittal when talking to the media. But until he hears otherwise, Olajuwon believes Howard will re-sign with the Lakers when he becomes a free agent this summer.
Olajuwon thinks Howard will stay with Lakers
Fox Sports Florida | Feb 8