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Spurned by Howard, Lakers facing tough season with aging roster led by recovering Bryant

Suddenly, next season isn't looking so bright for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Having been spurned by Dwight Howard, the Lakers are facing a tough season with an aging roster led by Kobe Bryant — and even he's not ready to go. It's not known when the five-time champion will return as he recovers from Achilles' tendon surgery.

Howard's choice of Houston over Los Angeles leaves oft-criticized Pau Gasol as the Lakers' lone remaining big man. If coach Mike D'Antoni were to pencil in his lineup now for opening night, there would be a few holes.

Besides Gasol, the Lakers figure to have Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Hill as starters. Metta World Peace could be waived via the league's amnesty provision and Earl Clark is already gone, having agreed to a two-year deal with Cleveland.