One of the biggest storylines of the upcoming NBA offseason involves the free agency of Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard. After what turned out to be an incredibly tumultuous first and potentially only season under the bright lights of Hollywood, one of the league’s lone remaining star centers will have some choices to ponder, both in terms of money and geography. Despite averaging 17.1 PPG, 12.4 RPG and 2.4 BPG per game (points and rebounds slightly below career averages), many questions persist regarding whether Howard is the best fit for the pressure packed environment that surrounds one of American sports most glamorous and high profile athletic franchises. Simply put, a seventh place regular season finish, combined with a first round four-game sweep, is flatly unacceptable to the Lakers organization, as well as their fans.
From Howard’s standpoint, an equally important question involves the former Orlando Magic star’s interest in remaining in the City of Angels, as opposed to taking his talents to a less demanding NBA market, like say Houston, where it is believed that the salary cap flexible Rockets will be making a strong push to sign the free agent.
For the record, the Lakers front office is very interested in bringing back Howard. As a result of the most recently negotiated collective bargaining agreement, the Lakers are in a position to offer Howard a five-year/$118 million contract, as compared to the rest of the league, which by rule is maxed out at an offer of four years and $87.6 million.
Above is iFolloSports.com original video of Howard signing autographs, as his chauffeured vehicle departed the Toyota Sports Center, shortly after the conclusion of his end of season exit interview and media session on Tuesday. On this day, Howard was incredibly cordial, as the awaiting crowd of Laker fans stood in line for autographs and to send along their wishes for him to return next season.
Fans can also check out this iFolloSports.com original video of Howard’s initial appearance at the Lakers facility, shortly after last August’s trade, as well as a previous time he stopped to sign autographs, after practice, earlier in the season.