The Los Angeles Lakers will be the final team Dwight Howard, who will become an unrestricted free agent Sunday night, meets with before making his decision as to where he will play next season.
Howard is expected to meet with at least three other organizations – Atlanta Hawks, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks – before sitting down with his most recent team, the Lakers, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak has met several times with Howard’s representatives since the Lakers’ season ended abruptly in April.
During those meetings, Kupchak has reaffirmed the Lakers’ interest in signing Howard to a five-year, $118-million contract. Other teams can offer only four years and $88 million.
Howard is expected to choose his team as soon as the NBA’s moratorium on new business is lifted on July 10.
According to ESPN sources, there is very little chance Howard will re-sign with the Lakers this summer. He is willing to forgo the extra $30 million the Lakers can play him to play for coach that he feels will better use his skill set.
Howard’s major problem with the Lakers is the system that coach Mike D’Antoni employs. Beyond that, he did not enjoy playing with Kobe Bryant, though he could manage to do so in a different system, a source said. Howard also does not want to be second fiddle to Bryant for several more seasons.
Howard averaged 17.1 points and 12.4 rebounds in his only season with the Lakers.
The Lakers unveiled billboards throughout Los Angeles that show action shots of Howard with the phrase “STAY” in all-capitals.