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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Kobe Bryant wants ‘final word’ with Dwight Howard’s free agency

Dwight-Howard-Kobe-Bryant-LakersDwight Howard has approached his upcoming free agency the exact way we expected him to thus far. The 27-year-old has made it clear that his return to the Los Angeles Lakers is hardly a foregone conclusion and that he intends to explore every option. Once he is done doing that, Kobe Bryant would like a word.

“For me, you kind of let him do his due diligence and then move in and talk to him and figure out if this is a place he wants to be,” Bryant told ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Dave McMenamin on Tuesday. “We all want him here. But then that’s when the selling begins [after Howard is courted by other teams]. You don’t start the selling process right before he goes and does all this stuff. You want to get the last word. You want to have the final word and the closing argument.”

Earlier this week, a report indicated that the Houston Rockets feel they have a legitimate shot to land Howard. While the Lakers can pay him $30 million more than any other team with a max contract, tax laws in certain states like Texas help close the gap. There is also the possibility of Howard opting out of any new deal he signs before the final year, which would give LA less of an advantage.

Other teams are also planning to give Howard an enticing sales pitch, with some like the Atlanta Hawks starting a bit early and potentially violating the rules because of it. But once all those teams have chimed in, Kobe is hoping to leave a lasting impression.

“I’ll give him a little opening statement, but then I have to make sure I have the final word,” he said.

Bryant is coming off a major injury and is getting toward the end of his career, so he understands having a player like Howard on the team gives him a better chance to capture another title. They may have had their differences during their first season as teammates, but Kobe and Dwight can still anchor a contending team. Whether or not Howard is open to giving it another try remains to be seen.

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