MEMPHIS — Dwight Howard thinks he gets it. He says he knows why some Lakers fans want him traded before the Feb. 21 deadline.
"Because they feel like I have an opportunity to just walk away," said Howard, who becomes a free agent July 1. "That is my choice at the end of the season but right now my focus is … doing something real special in L.A. We can't close the door on the opportunity that we have in front of us."
Howard spoke before re-injuring his right shoulder in the Lakers' 106-93 loss to Memphis on Wednesday.
He could sign a five-year, $117.9-million contract with the Lakers as opposed to a four-year, $87.6-million deal with another team. Howard would not, however, commit to a future with the Lakers.
"We're not discussing that," he said. "Right now, our goal is to win. All I want to do is win. I have to put all my energy into winning and sacrifice whatever I have to do and humble myself."
Howard left Wednesday's game after aggravating the torn labrum in his shoulder that sidelined him for three games this month. He will be evaluated by a shoulder specialist Thursday in Los Angeles.
It's official. The Lakers are a $1-billion franchise.
Thanks to their lucrative TV deal with Time Warner Cable, the Lakers increased in value from $900 million last year, according to Forbes magazine.
The Lakers were listed as the NBA's second-most-valuable franchise behind the New York Knicks ($1.1 billion).
Billion-dollar franchise or not, the Lakers (17-25) have been anything but winners in the standings, losing 10 of their last 12 games.
Hill has surgery
Reserve big man Jordan Hill underwent hip surgery in Nashville to remove loose fragments, repair a torn labrum and fix damaged cartilage.
Hill is expected to sit out the rest of the season.