The Los Angeles Lakers reportedly requested to be the last team to meet with free-agent center Dwight Howard as he prepares to make his decision on where to sign his next contract, per Dave McMenamin and Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com, and the former All-Star has granted the team’s wish.
As a franchise that has a serious chance of losing the star to free agency, asking to be the last team to interview Howard is a shrewd business move that will give Los Angeles the best chance of re-signing the talented big man.
While Howard hasn't lived up to expectations in LA during his time in the City of Angels, the franchise will use its position as the final team on his visit schedule to create a proposal the center will have a hard timing turning down.
The Lakers will have the unique opportunity to hear all the rumors coming from each meeting—Howard is also reportedly scheduled to meet with the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks, via ESPNLosAngeles.com—and match any promises made to the big man.
Los Angeles still holds the upper hand in terms of contract length and money because of the ability to offer a max five-year, $118 million contract. The most another team would be able to offer is a four-year contract worth $88 million.
The extra time will also afford the franchise the opportunity to build a deal that includes a new proposed staff for head coach Mike D’Antoni.
While that may not sound like much to the casual fan, a report from Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski suggests that Howard doesn’t like the coach’s game plan and adding a new staff and changing the direction could be enough to sway the center.
As the last team to interview, Los Angeles will have the chance to hear what all the other teams are offering the free agent and match or exceed every deal.
Howard reportedly does not want to re-sign with the Lakers, per ESPN’s Chris Broussard, but meeting with team last means its proposal will be the freshest on his mind when he makes his decision.
Whether Howard re-signs with LA or not, the team has positioned itself perfectly to make the most effective pitch to the free agent.