Mitch Kupchak seems to think that Dwight Howard will be staying in Los Angeles as a Laker, despite what Chris Broussard says.
The Lakers GM talked about the matter, saying:
"The word I've used is 'optimistic.’ I think I'm optimistic. I understand that there's a possibility [Howard] won't [re-sign], and I probably don't have any more information than anybody in this room does. I'm aware of a lot of the stuff that's flying back and forth, a lot of the rumors, so there's a realistic possibility that he won't be back. But I'm optimistic that he will... It's a sign of the future landscape. I think in the NBA with the new collective bargaining agreement, with the intent being to level the playing field as much as possible, I think you'll see the way teams recruit and try to procure talent to change. I think you have to be aggressive. You can't take chances that you're not doing enough, and from our point of view, we wanted to be as aggressive and as proactive as possible yet do it with what we feel was the right way without going overboard. The message is simple: We care about you, and we want you to stay. It's that simple... I don't think anything dramatic is going to take place on June 30 at 9:01 [p.m. PT] regarding Dwight. My understanding is there are several other teams that have great interest and he's going to have a process that I understand to be pretty deliberate that he's going to go through, and we'll be involved in that process and we'll see how it plays out."
That’s good, considering it will be pretty embarrassing to have to take down all of the #StayD12 signs if he doesn’t.
Kupchak also compared the situation to what the Lakers went through with Kobe Bryant when he thought about leaving as a free agent:
"Very similar. Scary close. Kobe visited with teams -- more than one team, there were several. I remember we were on pins and needles. We'd just gotten beaten and Phil [Jackson] left for the first time and we traded Shaquille [O'Neal], and there was a lot of uncertainty about what Kobe would do, a lot of rumor. Very similar to what's going on right now. When the phone call [with Bryant's decision] came in, we really didn't know which way it was going to go... Kobe's been back for seven or eight years now. What did people think about him? There was a period where Kobe was earning his stripes in Los Angeles. I think when he came back, he had to continue. Here it is, seven, eight or nine years later, and I think that's what would happen with Dwight once he puts his roots down and says, 'This is the place I want to be.' I think that's part of the problem. I think the city feels they were renting him for a year. But the reality is he couldn't sign an extension. Financially, the rules provide that he wait until July 1 to get the best deal he could possibly get. It was one of those situations where please tell us you want to be here and please show us you want to be here. But he can't do it until July 1. I think that's part of it. Of course the way the season went didn't help things either."
But what if all this waiting around turns into a LeBron “The Decision” James brouhaha:
"It's in everybody's best interest, I think, to proceed in a timely fashion. I don't think it's Dwight's goal to drag it out. Whether he's with us or with another team, everybody this time of year has business to take care of. If he's here, he wants us to know that so we can build around him in this period of free agency, when it moves very quickly, and if he's with somebody else, that team is going to want the same thing. If you're Dwight, you would want the same thing as well. You would want to give your team notice as quick as possible so they can make the changes that they need to make to make your team more effective. So I think it's in everybody's best interest to move as quick as possible.”
Kupchak also added that no one is happy right now, because they lost, and that this is a difficult time of year for all of them, with regard to making the right decisions. He did say they have several plans of attack though, and whether or not Howard plans to stay, they’ll still be able to improve the personnel.