(EL SEGUNDO, Calif.) — Dwight Howard will officially become a free agent on July 1. Howard and the Lakers cleaned out their lockers on Tuesday, and now the team will focus on re-signing him.
Howard had a disappointing first half of the season, but rebounded in the second and played much better defense down the stretch.
“I want to get away from everything and focus on me and making the decision for me, and that’s not happening today,” Howard said after meeting with general manager Mitch Kupchak.
Kupchak believes that Los Angeles is the place where Howard should call home for a long time.
“I know in my heart that this is a place where I think he should be,” Kupchak said. “We have a great legacy, great history of great players in this city dating back to when the franchise came here in 1960, and he certainly fits the mold.”
The Lakers will have the most money to throw at Howard, but in the end, it’s his decision. Lakers All-Star Kobe Bryant would like Howard to return, along with Pau Gasol, who has one-year remaining on his current contract.
“It’s just a matter of what he feels in his heart and what he wants to do,” Bryant said of Howard. “He’s reached a crossroads in his career, and I think L.A. is the perfect spot for him to assert himself and have his career take off.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Madison Park, Keith Allen and Andreas Preuss, CNN