At Lakers exit interviews, Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak stressed that the sooner Dwight Howard notified the organization of his decision, the better for everybody. He was optimistic for his return and said they would encourage him to make his decision in a “timely fashion.” It’s been 50 days since Lakers exit interviews. Is Kupchak still optimistic?
At a Time Warner Cable Media event Wednesday night, “View From The Top,” in which the late Dr. Buss was honored with a leadership award, Kupchak told reporters that he still maintains his optimism, but he anticipates that Howard will dabble in the free agency waters.
“He still could decide in his own mind early, but we’re anticipating that July 1st will come and he’ll experience being a free agent which is really what he’s earned and once again he can’t sign anything anyway until July 10th.”
Reportedly, Dwight has expressed interests in several teams, including Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, and even San Antonio, although Dwight himself hasn’t confirmed any of these reports. Even more recently, it was reported that Dwight and Chris Paul have been texting each other with the hope to team up together. Until the rumors are proven wrong, the Lakers will continue to wait on Howard, just as they waited on Kobe Bryant several years ago before Kobe decided to re-sign with the Lakers in 2004.
“We went through the same thing with Kobe Bryant,” Kupchak said at Vibiana yesterday. “It’s not a fun experience and there’s a lot of anticipation but its not unusual in this business…We were on pins and needles until, I believe it was July 15th when Kobe notified us, so we’ll be on pins and needles until we get notified again.”
It’s not comforting to know that the Lakers organization is finding themselves on pins and needles, but that’s part of the business. Kobe said that he spoke to Dwight a few weeks ago but hasn’t spoken to him since. Kupchak admitted yesterday that looking back, he thought Howard came back too soon, saying that “maybe he should have taken another month or two,” but he also said that with Steve Nash getting hurt the way he did, Howard probably would have felt the need to come back early anyway.
Can the Lakers be expecting any type of free counsel on Dwight through Phil Jackson? Jackson and Kupchak recently revealed that Phil may play a bigger role with the Lakers than one might think, though unofficial. Howard did say back in March that the two had exchanged texts. Jackson, however, downplayed their relationship yesterday when asked about his conversations with Howard. He specified that the two really only exchanged texts twice, and he basically told the All-Star center to let his play do the talking.
“I can’t really claim to have a relationship with Dwight.”
Ten more days till the free agency frenzy begins. Twenty more days until players are officially allowed to sign. Let’s hope the Lakers aren’t walking on pins and needles all summer long
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