Kobe Bryant really wants Dwight Howard to stay in Hollywood.
Bryant, obviously being much more mature and understanding (life lessons learned from the Shaq drama) — knows he will need a dominant force in the painted area if the Lakers are to compete for another NBA Championship. Bryant needs one more ring to catch Michael Jordan, and knows his time is running out.
Bryant stated that he would spend some quality time with the undecided Howard over the summer to discuss the possibility of him re-signing with the Los Angeles Lakers. Hopefully, the summer break will allow these two stars to “clear the air” and get on the same page. Howard already admitted that he and Kobe aren’t “best friends,” but it doesn’t mean they can’t play together. We all know that Kobe is a Laker for life, but does Howard bleed purple and gold?
Kobe has a lot riding on this pivotal offseason. After tearing his achilles at the end of the season, he fully understands the time is now.
Pau Gasol also struggled this year (even though I think that’s Mike D’Antoni’s fault) and may not return either. After being benched by D’Antoni in favor of Earl Clark, Gasol failed to achieve any rhythm, and the Lakers were swept right out of the playoffs and he inevitably became a sideline cheerleader for his brother Mark Gasol as he advanced to the Western Conference Finals.
Will Howard be joining him next season? Only time will tell, and his time is running out. Howard’s current contract will end and he will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Only at that time will teams be able to negotiate with Howard.
The Lakers are strapped financially, so they won’t be able offer a ton of cash to potential free agents. That’s why it’s imperative they re-sign D-12. If they don’t, Kobe will have to put the franchise on his shoulders yet again and at 34, coming off an Achilles tendon surgery, it’s highly unlikely he will be able to shoulder this enormous load next year.