However, with Bryant’s rehab and Howard’s free agency looming during the summer, reports directly from Howard’s camp leaked this morning about his intentions during the offseason.
Sam Amick of USA Today reported Howard plans to remain in Laker land:
While the center who will be a free agent this summer has continued his noncommittal stance about whether he will sign with the Lakers or head elsewhere, two people close to him said they fully expect him to return. The people spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity out of respect for Howard’s decision to wait until the summer to make his final choice.
In their first game since Kobe went down with a season-ending injury, Howard responded with a dominating performance. He scored 26 points, grabbed 17 rebounds and blocked three shots and it was evident that he was transforming in the Lakers leader before our eyes.
While there have been differing reports as to whether or not Howard has been happy as a Laker, it seems he’s embraced his role with the Lakers. Last night the Lakers saw the Howard that they traded for in the summer, and it seems the leadership that Kobe imparted in him is coming out through his play on the court.
Although it’s been likely Howard would eventually realize that staying a Laker was his best move, teams like the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and the Atlanta Hawks will still line up for his services over the summer. The Lakers offer Howard his best chance to win and not to mention he can make the most money if he re-signs with the team.
A lot of Dwight’s decision still depends on how far he can take this Lakers team in the playoffs, but his recent play suggests he’s more comfortable in L.A. then he was before.
In case you missed it, be sure to check out what Mitch Kupchak had to say about the Lakers amnestying Kobe Bryant!
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