Howard begins waiting game for Lakers
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
El Segundo, Calif. – And now the Dwight Howard waiting game begins for the Los Angeles Lakers.
After a season in which their collection of future Hall of Famers flamed out in spectacular fashion with a first-round playoff series sweep by the San Antonio Spurs, the Lakers will be forced to put their plans on hold while Howard contemplates his free agency future. As reported by USA TODAY Sports in mid-April, there are strong signs that he will be back. He won’t be a free agent until July 1 but could express his intentions before then.
“I’m just going to get away,” he said Tuesday at the team’s practice facility. “Making a decision like this, you don’t want to make it off emotions. You don’t want to make it off what other people are saying, and that’s why I think that it’s very key for me to get away.”
For all the talk of a divide between Howard and Kobe Bryant, their relationship improved in the season’s second half, and the longtime Lakers star strongly endorsed the notion that the big man needed to return.
“I think (Howard) is very important (to the future),” Bryant said. “It’s really just a matter of what he feels in his heart he wants to do. He’s kind of reached kind of a crossroads of his career, and I think Los Angeles is the perfect spot for him to assert himself, to kind of put his foot down and have his career really take off and be what it should be.”
But while general manager Mitch Kupchak has told Howard the Lakers won’t pressure him to make a decision before he’s ready, he made it clear there should be a sense of urgency here.
“I think he understands that the sooner he makes a decision, the better it is for everybody,” Kupchak said. “I don’t know if that means a week, a month.
“It allows him to start putting down roots in the city. People can no longer say, ‘I wonder what he’s going to do. Is he going to be gone?’ He can establish business relationships, foundation, … [For more on Dwight Howard begins waiting game for Lakers, click here.]