Dwight Howard is ready to make his decision.
The highly coveted NBA free agent has heard pitches from five teams during his tour around the league, and after leaving California for a few days to consider his options will announce his pick on Friday, reports say.
The Los Angeles Lakers would seem to have an inside track with Howard. They are able to offer him $30 million more than any other team, though he struggled in Mike D’Antoni’s offense that emphasizes guard play and outside shooting. Howard also clashed with players and management during his one year with the team, which was marked by back and shoulder issues.
But the Lakers have been making a big push to keep Howard, employing Kobe Bryant to convince his teammate to stay. Team executives have also met with Dwight Howard, and have reportedly suggested that the team could bring Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James when they become free agents.
”At the meeting, we told him how important he is to the Lakers team, franchise, fans and community, and why we feel this is the best place for him to continue his career,” General Manager Mitch Kupchak said in a statement released by the team. ”We are hopeful that Dwight decides to remain a Laker.”
Kobe could make a particularly strong case to Howard. After his season ended abruptly with an Achilles tear, Bryant has made it clear he wants nothing less than a championship in his remaining years in the league. Playing alongside such a determined superstar could be a strong pitch.
The Lakers have even reportedly pitched to Howard the idea of having his own television show. The New York Daily News reported that the team has been talking with Time Warner Cable and is in “preliminary” negotiations for a show hosted by Howard.
But Dwight Howard has plenty of other interest as well. He met with the Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, Golden State Warriors, and Dallas Mavericks during his free agent tour.