Posted July 11, 2013

Report: Dwight Howard’s camp asked whether Lakers would amnesty Kobe Bryant

Ben Golliver, Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Kobe Bryant said he's not planning to retire anytime soon.

Kobe Bryant said he’s not planning to retire anytime soon. (Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images)

The plan was simple: Kobe Bryant’s Lakers would eventually become Dwight Howard’s Lakers. Everything was going smoothly right up until the “eventually” part.

Over the weekend, Howard mentioned the role that “timing” played in his decision to sign with the Rockets over the Lakers. ESPNLA.com dug a bit deeper into the “timing” issue, reporting that Howard was ready to become the face of the Lakers sooner rather than later.

Sources told ESPN.com that Howard and his representatives — in a handful of meetings with Lakers officials before he became a free agent July 1 — strongly suggested the center would have a difficult time re-signing with the team if Bryant stayed with the franchise beyond the 2013-14 season, the final year of his contract.

“How can it be Kobe’s team and Dwight’s team?” one source said. “It was about the passing of the torch.”

As an offshoot of those discussions, sources said, Howard’s camp at one point asked the Lakers whether they were at least considering releasing Bryant through the league’s amnesty provision, since Bryant’s return date from Achilles tendon surgery remained in question.

As noted in The Point Forward’s wrap-up of the factors that influenced Howard’s decision, Bryant’s presence was definitely problematic. The Point Forward has always felt that the idea of the Lakers using the amnesty clause on Bryant was a non-starter, and Howard certainly hadn’t built up enough good will in Los Angeles to exert influence over a decision that big.

It would be unfair — to both parties — to suggest that Bryant was the sole driving factor behind Howard’s departure. After all, there was a lot for Howard to like about Houston and questions about Howard’s fit with Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni. But Bryant casts a mighty shadow over the Lakers’ present, future and salary cap situation. On the books for a league-high $30 million next season while he recovers from an Achilles injury, Bryant effectively prevented the Lakers from improving their roster by virtually eliminating their salary cap flexibility. Had they re-signed Howard, the Lakers would have been over the salary cap after paying just three players: Bryant, Howard and Pau Gasol.

It wasn’t just the money, though. Howard and Bryant initially attempted to play nice, but they have polar opposite personalities, an issue that popped up when the fun-loving Howard reportedly did mocking impressions of the super-competitive Bryant. Rumors of a postgame verbal exchange and reports of an air-it-out team meeting also surfaced. Then, as Howard walked off the court in his final game, guess who came out to the Lakers’ bench and received a standing ovation? Bryant, of course. When it came time to court Howard this summer, Bryant told Lakers.com that he had no plans to retire soon, as if preemptively staking his claim. Once face-to-face with Howard, he then reportedly adopted an “older and wiser” approach in his pitch. One report indicated that Howard was put off by Bryant’s approach; Howard disputed that characterization of the meeting. Regardless, it’s safe to say these two didn’t exactly hit it off.

Shortly after Howard made his announcement, Bryant posted a photo of himself with Gasol on Instagram and reportedly unfollowed Howard on Twitter. The Los Angeles Times reported that Bryant has since said that he is “happy” for Howard but that he was not disappointed and was “dead center” in response to Howard’s departure. Bryant’s approach only reinforces the logic behind Howard’s decision to leave; both All-Stars seem in full agreement that the timing just wasn’t right.

12 comments
sugaslim
sugaslim

good riddance to dwight. and kobe will fade off into the sunset with only five rings and the talk of who is the goat him or mike will be put to bed for the last time. i only wish kb wasnt hurt for the playoffs last year and i coulda watch him get swept. oh well this season will prove to b just as joyous as i watch the lake show become the clipshow....

SukeMadiq
SukeMadiq

KObe the injured ball hog is not worth half of his 32 million dollars, the Lakers are going nowhere with Bryant still playing.

K.r.Qunynghamm
K.r.Qunynghamm

Too bad Hakeem Olajuwon's playing days are done, otherwise, Howard would be the # 2 or even #3 center in the league instead of being considered #1.  Howard really needs to consider practicing his free throw shooting before suggesting he's a franchise player. Yes, he's good, but Hakeem would have him for lunch offensively or defensively. Shaq would treat him like he did David Robinson, throwing the ball down on 'The Admiral's' head. Dwight now has to prove himself. What's he going to do when things get a little rough, call for another coach to be replaced? It's time to put up or shut up, my man. Now, as for 'Pops' Bryant, the rings and championships are over. Get used to it. Jimmy Buss isn't the brain that Jerry was so prepare for a rebuilding process one way or another.

Ramfan1
Ramfan1

KOBE BRYANT IS NOT A QUITTER LIKE DWIGHT HOWARD !!!

Ramfan1
Ramfan1

HOWARD IS VASTLY OVER RATED WHO IS A LIABILITY IN THE FOURTH QUARTER !!!

Borjo
Borjo

How can someone like D12 who has trouble making his free throws think that he is a franchise player?  So what happens if the game is really tight in the last two minutes and he can't make his free throws?  Sit him  (the FRANCHISE) on the bench  and let his subordinates win it for him?  LOL!!!!!!

I think that this guy is mentally unstable .......... just like Phil mentioned, he is an Astro.

began2000
began2000

It's hard for me to believe all this petty ego stuff is true. If it is, DH is the biggest diva on the planet.  Maybe the NBA is scripting this to create a WrestleMania type atmosphere as a grand scheme to increase interest in the sport and revenue.  I'm already prepping myself for the superbowl-level, hype that's going to surround every Lakers/Rockets game next season.  It

Bluejay123
Bluejay123

Kobe Bryant has one more year left on his contract. The Lakers would not amnesty him it's about respect to a loyal star player thru his team. Only few NBA stars retired in only one team. So, keep your mouth shut Dwight Coward your not proven yet no rings just a defensive player in the post. Add more talents and achievements to your resume before you proclaim a good model and a franchise player. I dont think so if you and James Harden will embraced each other maybe just for this year he might also targeting himself to be the focus of the Rockets franchise . SO WATCH OUT DWIGHT COWARD IF YOU GUYS WILL NOT MAKE IT IN THE FINALS.

Ramfan1
Ramfan1

@SukeMadiq  KOBE NEVER QUITS AND IS LOYAL SOMETHING PEOPLE LIKE YOU AND D-12 NEVER HEARD OF !!!!!

leehwgoc
leehwgoc

@began2000

On paper, at least, the Rockets are going to be a much, much better team.  

The hype for that match-up may die off pretty quick if the Lakers are trotting out a competitively irrelevant sub-.500 squad next season... which is very possible.