According to Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein of ESPN, Bryant’s future with the Lakers was a huge factor in Howard’s election to go to Houston.
Earlier this season, Bryant explained, during several interviews, that he didn’t see himself playing beyond his current contract. Of course, the Achilles’ heel injury seems to have changed everything. Now, it doesn’t look as if Bryant will retire until he wins his sixth ring. According to a new report, this was a major issue for Howard.
Shelburne and Stein say that, “sources told ESPN.com that Howard and his representatives — in a handful of meetings with Lakers officials before he became a free agent July 1 — strongly suggested the center would have a difficult time re-signing with the team if Bryant stayed with the franchise beyond the 2013-2014 season, the final year of his contract,” ESPN reports. “… ‘How can it be Kobe’s team and Dwight’s team?’ one source said. ‘It was about the passing of the torch.’”
It seems that Howard and his team suggested that the Lakers use the amnesty option on Bryant. It seems that since, Bryant is with the Lakers and Howard isn’t, the Lakers didn’t take too warmly to this suggestion. Bryant still has a significant amount of influence on the Lakers organization. The Lakers are his team, not Howard’s.
From the reports on Bryant’s pitch to Howard, he doesn’t really seem to understand how Howard feels about him. If Howard had re-signed with the Lakers, his relationship with Bryant probably would have only gotten worse.