Here's the latest on the Lakers, as the club prepares to host the Celtics tonight in Los Angeles….
- GM Mitch Kupchak has insisted for weeks that the Lakers won't trade Dwight Howard, and he told ESPN Radio today the team still envisions Howard as the centerpiece of its future (link via Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com).
- Kupchak also hinted that the Lakers aren't necessarily counting on more than another year and a half from Kobe Bryant: "Kobe has one more year on his deal. That's all I can bank on or this organization can bank on. I have no idea if he wants to continue to play beyond next year. As of now, we're looking at a two-year window, [and that] plays to the urgency of the situation and how we build the team…. This team's window to win is this year and next year."
- Pau Gasol won't be moved this week, but Kupchak didn't rule out the possibility that trade rumors will surface again in the summer or next season: "His name has come up in the past and it would be misleading to say it won't come up in the future."
- According to Kupchak, the Lakers are "very happy" with coach Mike D'Antoni going forward, and are pleased with the job he has done considering he didn't have a training camp with the team.
- Asked today whether he sees himself as part of the Lakers' future, Howard replied, "Yeah, I do. We talked about it plenty of times. That's what we've always talked about since the first day I got here. It hasn't stopped. The goal hasn't changed and won't change." However, he stopped short of committing to re-signing with the Lakers, telling reporters that there's no need to make that decision right now (Twitter links via Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com and Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe).