Whether it's a fellow superstar having a sit-down with the 27-year-old center or an up-and-coming Pacific Division team doing everything in its power to land him, there have reportedly been a lot of developments that have taken place this week.
So, what are the Los Angeles Lakers' chances of re-signing Howard at this point?
Well, first off, you can't talk about that without talking about Kobe Bryant's words to the unrestricted free agent on Tuesday.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Bryant told Howard the following during their little sit-in:
You need to learn how it's done first, and I can teach you here.
You have to learn how it's done. I know how to do it, and I've learned from the best—players who have won multiple times over and over.
Instead of trying to do things your way, just listen and learn and tweak it, so it fits you.
Make no mistake about it, these words are important pieces to the puzzle. Bryant is basically challenging Howard, refusing to accommodate the seven-time All-Star. Howard could take it one of two ways: a) accept the challenge and try again to win a title with Kobe and the Lakers or b) take his ego elsewhere.
My initial thoughts are that Bryant didn't do the Lakers (or himself) any favors. Bryant has never been one to back down to anybody, but you can't just go out and tell a multiple-time All-Star, "You need to learn how to do it first." Bryant may have a point, but that doesn't change the fact that it's unlikely to warm Howard's heart.
Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times seems to think Howard will sign with someone else.
Pincus wrote the following on Thursday:
Some of the league's most historic big men have forced their way onto the Lakers -- Howard seems to be on the verge of walking away.
Of course, there's another team that is pursuing Howard aggressively. That team would be the Golden State Warriors.
After Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported on Thursday that the Warriors were trying to unload the expiring contracts of Andrew Bogut, Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins to clear up cap space for Howard—while dangling a future first-round pick—Peter Vecsey tweeted this:
In my opinion, it doesn't seem likely that a team would take on those massive contracts for just a first-round pick. The ESPN.com report suggested that either Klay Thompson or Harrison Barnes may have to be included in such a deal. But, wow, are the Warriors doing everything in their power to land Howard or what?
As for now, the teams that appear to be most likely to land Howard this summer are (in order): the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks. Of course, I wouldn't call the Warriors out of this, not by a long shot. The Lakers, on the other hand, appear to be falling out of the picture.
Perhaps Kobe will soften his tone?
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