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Lakers’ GM says Howard represents future of the franchise

Los Angeles Lakers' Dwight Howard pulls in a defensive rebound against the Phoenix Suns during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, in Los Angeles.

Associated Press

Dwight Howard isn't going anywhere, Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak repeated on the eve of the NBA trade deadline. Kupchak went so far as to call the center the future of the franchise.

Kupchak reiterated Wednesday in an interview with ESPN Radio that Howard is not on the market.

"We've been very consistent," Kupchak said. "We're not trading Dwight Howard. He will not be traded and there's nothing that anybody can do today to call me today and ask me, 'Would you do this?' and get a positive result."

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With Kobe Bryant on the tail end of his career, Howard is looking to build around Howard.

"Kobe has one more year on his deal (after this season)," Kupchak said. "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."

Kupchak said it wouldn't make sense to trade a player he calls the best centre in the league.

"It's hard to get talent in this league," Kupchak said. "He belongs to have his name on the wall and a statue in front of Staples at some point and time."

Howard joined the Lakers before the season amid much hype but has battled through back and shoulder injuries and struggled at times. He's averaging 16.3 points per game, his lowest output since his second season in the NBA.

Plenty has been made of his relationship with Bryant and how Howard has meshed with fellow big man Pau Gasol.

Kupchak said he doesn't expect to trade Gasol any time soon but that his name has come up in conversations with other NBA teams. Like Howard, Gasol has fought through injuries this season.

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"It would be misleading to say (his name) won't come up in the future," Kupchak said.

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