Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 4/30/13
EL SEGUNDO, CA Kobe Bryant rolled into the media workroom at the Lakers practice facility on a scooter, protecting his surgically repaired Achilles tendon. Then, following his exit meeting, he proceeded to run over all of Dwight Howards critics; you know, the ones who say the team should cut ties with the games best big man and let him walk as a free agent. Los Angeles is the best place for him, said Bryant, who continues to predict hell be healed and ready to play in next years season opener. Its the perfect spot for him to assert himself and have his career really take off and be what it should be. Theres no greater place for centers to play than in Los Angeles. Bryant is convinced that after a few weeks of reflection, D12 will re-up with the Lakers for five-years and 118-million. To sign with another team, Howards max deal would be 88 million over four years, leaving 30 million in some teams coffers. Kobe says common sense tells you that Howard is most likely coming back. We all like to consider ourselves businessmen somewhat, said Bryant, who will be entering the final year of his contract. It just makes more sense contractually and perception-wise. Its just a great place an incredible market. If you win (in Los Angeles) a lot of things go well for you. From Howards point of view, things can only get better individually and team-wise. I keep saying it, Howard told the gathered media Tuesday, that this year was a nightmare. It was a bad dream you couldnt wake up from. We tried but the bad people in the nightmare would never leave us alone. It was a really tough year. But one positive thing was that we got through the year, all the injuries and still made the playoffs. If you take Howard at his word, the dark season wont have any impact on whether he re-signs with the Lakers or moves elsewhere. None at all, Howard claims, saying hell spend a few weeks decompressing from the rigors of the season and all its attending pressures. I deserve it and thats what Im going to do, he said, clinging to his season-long mantra that he wont talk about next season until hes made up his mind on where hes going to play for the next five season. I need to clear my head and just not think about anything just relax. Once I do that Ill have plenty of time to think about everything and make a decision. Howard wanted to make sure everyone understands that despite the troubling season and early playoff departure, he loves L.A. and the Laker organization. I came back early from serious back surgery because I wanted to win so badly for the team and the fans, Howard said. I could have sat out another six months and that would have been the timetable they gave me for recovery. I knew this team needed me and that we had a chance to win a championship, so I made the choice to push myself, and Im glad I did. I learned a lot about my body and myself by doing it that way. But it was a slow process with the back and the (torn shoulder) labrum, and all the injuries just crushed us. Howard says hell see a shoulder specialist Wednesday and hope I dont have to have to have any more surgery. But well see. Also waiting will be Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak, who said he would not pressure Howard for a fast answer about re-signing or moving on. Ive told him that from the day we traded for him, Kupchak said, and nothings changed. I also told Dwight that I truly believe this is the best place for him to win championships and build his legacy, but he has to make up his mind about what he wants to accomplish and who he wants to play with. Kupchak says that Howard has been very positive about his Los Angeles experience, and that if theres something the Lakers are missing as they court Howard, Im not aware of it. Pau Gasol says theres nothing new on his status, and that Kupchak admitted that the team might have to trade him or amnesty him to provide some luxury tax relief for the team next season. Talking to reporters following his session with the Lakers GM, Gasol was calm and understanding, saying he accepts the realities of the situation and will respect whatever decision the team makes. A few minutes later, though, Gasol looked a bit more shaken as he talked with a reporter in the players parking lot. Hey, I love it here, the Spaniard said. I dont want to play for any other organization. But its out of my hands. Im not happy how its turned out and hopefully Ill be here next year. But theyre going to do whats best for the organization, so I just have to wait and see what they do. If its up to Bryant, Gasol will be back in purple and gold next season. To me, Bryant said, its a no-brainer. Weve won championships with (Pau) and we need him to get where we want to go. I dont cut the checks, though. All I can do is voice my opinion. And I told Mitch exactly how I feel.
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