Less than 48 hours after the start of free agency, Dwight Howard completed his final free agent meeting. For about two days, powerful people dressed in suits made promises about improving his future. For 48 hours, multimillionaires danced around and molded every utterance to fit Howard's desires.
For approximately two hours on Tuesday, Jim Buss, Mike D'Antoni, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Mitch Kupchak, Tim Harris, representatives from Time Warner Cable SportsNet and AEG met with Howard and his representatives Dan Fegan and Happy Walters.
Kupchak released a statement--another public plea for Howard--shortly after the meeting in which he stated, “We are hopeful Dwight decides to remain a Laker.”
The Los Angeles Lakers were the final team to meet with the coveted free agent, and Howard was reported to be leaving Los Angeles for a couple days as part of the decision-making process. Howard’s escape from LA is not necessarily a sign he is leaving the Lakers permanently. Likely, he merely needs a moment to go to a neutral ground and listen to the voices inside his head.
Now, if he turns up in Houston on the 4th of July, it may be time to panic. As of Tuesday, though, the Lakers, Rockets, Mavericks, Warriors, and Hawks were all in the sweepstakes. Another round of meetings was not expected.
Conceivably, Howard will meditate in tranquility--possibly another fishing weekend--and return with a decision that will have free agent and trade ramifications across the league.
Regardless of the decision, Howard would be wise to not drag this saga out any further than necessary. Howard’s face, jersey, and name have been plastered all over the southland for the past week, and talk of his decision has dominated national headlines since the NBA Finals wrapped up.
Stay or go, Howard should do everyone a favor and make the decision before July 10--the first day he can sign the contract.