Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard is set to become an unrestricted free agent July 1. If it was up to Kobe Bryant, he would sign the big man to a five-year, $118 million contract extension.
“It’s not like you have guys like Dwight Howard just walking around every day,” said Bryant during an interview on “The Mason & Ireland Show” on ESPN LA 710 radio Wednesday. “Those guys are hard to find. They don’t grow on trees. I think when you have somebody like that, with his talent level, you have to, you have to be able to keep him and lock him in with this franchise and with the history that this franchise has of having great centers, this would in my opinion be the perfect spot for him.”
Bryant has already begun to persuade Howard into staying with the Lakers.
“I spoke to him maybe a couple weeks ago, just to check in with him, see what he was doing, see what he was up to, see how his summer was going,” Bryant said. “But I haven’t spoken to him since. I know he’s got a big decision to make and I’m sure he’ll take the visits and talk to the players from the teams that he’s considering. We’ll touch base a lot more.”
If Howard decides to stay in L.A. he may not be playing alongside Bryant for the start of the regular season.
Bryant, who underwent surgery to repair a torn left Achilles tendon in mid-April, said he most likely wont be ready to play in October.
“I’m shooting for November, December (at the) latest,” Bryant said. “That’s my goal in my head. That’s what I’m shooting for. I’m really, really determined about getting there. As soon as they take the governor off when they think the tendon is strong enough for me to be able to progress to doing really heavy weights and more conditioning and things like that, then it’s on me.
“I won’t have any fear or any worry of the tendon rupturing again. There’s nothing I can do about it. If it goes again, it goes again. But once I’m ready to go, it’s going to be on.”