Report: Kobe to be part of Lakersí free agency pitch to Dwight Howard
The Lakers are expected to be the last in the lineup, behind the Houston Rockets, Dallas Maverick, Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks, to get a shot at wooing Dwight Howard during his free agency meeting with the interested teams. The Rockets, who are the first to take a crack at Howard, just hours after the start of free agency, will bring Hakeem Olajuwon and James Harden among others during their presentation for All-Star center. The Mavericks will follow the same protocols with Mark Cuban and Dirk Nowitzki leading the presentation.
The Lakers’ recruitment group will not only headline the Buss family, general manager Mitch Kupchak and also possibly coach Mike D'Antoni as well, but Kobe Bryant will also be present at the meeting. Bryant’s presence will help to diminish any tensions during the meeting due to his familiarity of playing on the floor with Howard over the past season. According to another report, Lakers guard Steve Nash is also in the mix for the Dwight Howard recruitment group, though the team has not finalized their list of representatives to take part in Tuesday’s presentation.
Despite the reports of at times a frigid relationship between Bryant and Howard during a difficult season for the Lakers, the two players finally seemed to come to an understanding as the season progressed. Publically, Bryant has been a vocal advocate of bringing back Howard, saying that the Lakers need to quickly “lock him in.”
"Those guys are hard to find, they don't grow on trees," said Bryant. "When you have someone like that with his talent level, you have to be able to keep him and lock him in with this franchise. ...”
"It's hard because a lot of times those two things don't align," added Bryant. "With the history that this franchise has of having great centers, this would, in my opinion, be the perfect spot for him."
The Lakers have the advantage of keeping familiarity with Howard after he played with the team for one season, an attribute he doesn’t share with the Rockets and Mavericks. Bryant could also offer Howard the chance to eventually take over for him as the king of LA. The Lakers could also offer Howard more money than the rest of his suitors, with the Rockets being next in competition. With the Lakers, Dwight Howard could sign a five-year contract for over $117 million. The Rockets are offering Dwight Howard close to $88 million over four years.