Kobe wants to have 'final word' in Howard saga
JUN 04, 2013 11:17a ET
On Monday, Pau Gasol said that he hadn't spoken to Howard and respected his need to take time to come to a decision, and Kobe Bryant had even stronger sentiments in an interview with ESPNLA.com’s Dave McMenamin that same day.
“For me, you kind of let him do his due diligence and then move in and talk to him and figure out if this is a place he wants to be," Bryant said to ESPNLA.com. “We all want him here. But then that's when the selling begins [after Howard is courted by other teams]. You don't start the selling process right before he goes and does all this stuff. You want to get the last word. You want to have the final word and the closing argument.
“I'll give him a little opening statement, but then I have to make sure I have the final word.”
Howard could be courted by several teams, including Houston, Dallas, Golden State and Atlanta, and he’s reportedly expressed interest in joining a young, promising Rockets team. With free agency, which begins July 1, still nearly a month away, Howard has plenty of time to ponder his options and determine whether the added year and extra money the Lakers can offer might trump the situations he’ll face elsewhere. (Texas’ lack of state income tax will also factor into that decision.)
If there seems to be radio silence in all directions right now, apart, of course, from the rampant speculation, that’s why. Howard still has weeks to ponder, and Bryant, for one, isn’t going to launch his attack until he knows more about where the big man’s mindset stands.
The Howard situation is the most visible evidence of just how much in flux the once-stable Lakers are this summer. Gasol acknowledged the uncertainty on Monday, attributing it to the passing of owner Jerry Buss in February, but Bryant seemed assured in the ESPNLA.com interview that the team will be able to regroup with or without Howard. He added that he’ll be happy to help the front office with a backup plan if Howard chooses to walk and amounts to nothing more than a one-season rental for the team.
“This franchise is a franchise that you really don't have to worry about too much, because no matter what happens, whether it's a year from now, two years from now, whatever the case may be, they're always going to find a way to have an impact on this league,” Bryant said.
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