If there is one thing we know for sure regarding Dwight Howard and his impending free agency, it’s that he is highly unlikely to make a quick decision. Howard seems to enjoy flip-flopping and dragging these things out as much as possible, which is why his future with the Los Angeles Lakers still remains very unclear.
On Tuesday, Howard would not commit to whether or not he is leaning toward returning to LA.
“I’m going to take my time, get away from the game, my phones and everything and just clear my head,” he said during his exit interview, via the LA Times. “I’ll do what’s going to be best for myself, what’s going to make me happy. I can’t control who likes me, who dislikes me, but I have the right to be happy.”
Howard has to wait until June 30 if he plans on visiting with other teams, so this could — and probably will — take a while. If money is his top priority, the Lakers should have the upper hand. LA can offer Howard a max contract extension of five years and $118 million while other teams can only offer him a four-year, $88 million deal. General Manager Mitch Kupchak is hoping he makes his decision quickly.
“I think he understands that the sooner he makes a decision, the better it is for everybody,” Kupchak said. “I don’t know if that means a week, a month or seven weeks.”
Both Kupchak and Kobe Bryant have expressed how important it is for Howard to return to the Lakers if they get back into championship contention. He had a rough year in his first season with LA, but Howard is still very much an impact player. The fans got on him a lot of the time, but Kobe says winning can change that in a hurry.
“From a business standpoint it makes more sense, both contractually and also perception-wise,” Bryant said. “A lot of things go well for you if you win here.”
After he was ejected during the third quarter of what turned out to be LA’s final game of the year, Howard apologized to the fans on Twitter and seemed to imply he would be sticking around. Even if he does, history tells us he won’t do so without making as big a deal of himself as possible.