Lakers hang banner pleading for Dwight Howard to re-sign
Of course, money may not be enough to lure the notoriously fickle Howard back to Los Angeles. As a result, the Lakers are ready to pull out all the stops for the player that Kupchak recently referred to as "our future."
The Lakers' most recent antic is currently hanging on the outside wall of the Staples Center - it is a massive sign featuring a picture of Howard with the word "STAY" in bold yellow letters. It also attempts to spark discussion on Twitter by adding "#STAYD12" at the bottom.
Howard has plenty of reasons to look for a new team. His first year in Los Angeles didn't go quite as planned, as the Lakers - with lofty expectations - squeezed into the playoffs and were promptly swept in the first round. There seemed to be constant tension between Howard and active Laker legend Kobe Bryant, and Howard's every mistake was in the spotlight thanks to the Los Angeles media.
A change of scenery may be just what Howard wants. Teams that have cleared cap space to make a run at him include the Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks. Howard grew up in Atlanta, while the Mavericks offer an enormous amount of cap flexibility and could build a contending team via free agency in the coming seasons. In addition, there have been rumors that Howard has had discussions with Chris Paul regarding them playing on the same team next season. Although Paul looks like a lock to re-sign with the Clippers, it's worth noting that the Hawks and Mavericks both have enough cap space to sign two free agents to max contracts.
By the time Howard chooses his new team, the sign outside of the Staples Center will be one of many attempts to get Howard to stay in Los Angeles. The Lakers gambled on him last summer banking on being able to re-sign him this offseason.
Howard's actions this summer will be the most media-covered of any free agent. Based on his track record, he will likely take a while to decide where he wants to play next season. And so begins 'The Summer of Dwight.'