At midnight Eastern as Sunday night flips into Monday, Dwight Howard’s phone is going to ring off the hook. Well, if phones were still on hooks it would.
Mitch Kupchak and the Los Angeles Lakers will call. Daryl Morey and the Houston Rockets will call. Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks will call. There will be others as well.
Everyone will want to sign Howard as a free agent.
By NBA rule Howard can’t put his signature on a contract until July 10, and that’s when he will announce his decision, according to Dave McMenamin at ESPNLosAngreles.com.
A source close to the All-Star center told ESPNLosAngeles.com that Howard expects to be ready to choose his team as soon as the NBA’s moratorium on new business is lifted on July 10.
Let’s hope Howard doesn’t want to do his announcement in an hour-long television special.
Lakers GM Kupchak thinks a quick decision is a good thing.
“It’s in everybody’s best interest, I think, to proceed in a timely fashion,” Kupchak said. “I don’t think it’s Dwight’s goal to drag it out. Whether he’s with us or with another team, everybody this time of year has business to take care of. If he’s here, he wants us to know that so we can build around him in this period of free agency, when it moves very quickly, and if he’s with somebody else, that team is going to want the same thing.”
By the way, Kupchak hears the same reports you do — he knows the buzz is Howard is gone. He’s also been through more of these negotiations than you and he still thinks he can retain the big man.
“I think the word I’ve used is ‘optimistic,’” Kupchak said Thursday night after emerging from the Lakers’ war room following the NBA draft. “I think I’m optimistic. I understand that there’s a possibility (Howard) won’t (re-sign), and I probably don’t have any more information than anybody in this room does. I’m aware of a lot of the stuff that’s flying back and forth, a lot of the rumors, so there’s a realistic possibility that he won’t be back. But I’m optimistic that he will.”