From NBA.com staff reports
Depending on who you listen to, Howard and his contingent have been in either Colorado or Montana since sometime yesterday while the big man ponders his future. One of Howard’s agents tweeted the following yesterday as the Howard throng made its way to the mountains of somewhere:
Where Howard and Co. are now is almost irrelevant as what all most folks (and most non-Howard free agents) care about is where he’ll play the next few seasons: Golden State, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston or in Los Angeles with the incumbent Lakers.
According to ESPN.com, Howard may reveal his choice as soon as Friday and — not surprising to anyone who knows anything about Howard — he’s “totally up in the air” about where to choose:
Perhaps the most surprising development of the week, sources briefed on the meetings told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, is the strong impression that the Warriors made in their presentation to Howard on Monday.
The Rockets and Mavericks are widely considered the only teams capable of stealing Howard from the Lakers — and Golden State would need to construct a complicated sign-and-trade deal to have any shot at actually acquiring the center — but sources say that the Warriors indeed got his attention with their pitch.
The Warriors would have to find a way to shed some salaries to accommodate Howard in a sign-and-trade and likely would be restricted in whom they could add to the roster after completing that transaction, but sources say that Golden State is factoring into the center’s thinking.
The Lakers have thus far shown no inclination to participate in any sign-and-trades for Howard, according to sources with knowledge of their thinking. The team’s long-honed plan remains to preserve financial flexibility for the summer of 2014, when only Steve Nash is under contract and a bevy of top free agents could become available.
Howard also got a little message from the Lakers’ former legendary coach, Phil Jackson, via Twitter:
Some interesting post-meeting tales are surfacing, especially after Howard heard the Lakers’ sales pitch on Tuesday after hearing ones from the aforementioned four squads between Monday and Tuesday. According to Yahoo!Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, Kobe Bryant had some pointed words for Howard in the Tuesday night meeting that included Bryant, Howard, Nash and several other Lakers decision-makers:
When Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant spoke to Dwight Howard on Tuesday, his words to the free-agent center resounded an unmistakable and unflinching message: Let me teach you how to be a champion.
“You need to learn how it’s done first, and I can teach you here,” Bryant told Howard during the Lakers’ presentation, witnesses in the room described to Yahoo! Sports.
Bryant didn’t come to Howard’s recruitment meeting in Beverly Hills to appease him, but to challenge Howard to stay and embrace the burden of the franchise’s culture and embrace Bryant’s demanding disposition. Bryant invoked Michael Jordan’s hard-driving ways as his blueprint, and how it pushed the Chicago Bulls to six titles.
Bryant, a five-time NBA champion, insisted he wouldn’t retreat in pushing Howard every day, that as much as the Lakers needed Howard, Howard needed Bryant and the Lakers, too.
“You have to learn how it’s done,” Bryant told Howard, witnesses described. “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,” Bryant told him.
Howard has retreated to Colorado for a few days, surrounded by representatives, to make a decision on his future. The Lakers are fighting frontrunner Houston, Dallas, Atlanta and Golden State to sign him.
CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger also has a little insight into how Howard may reveal his decision (note: it won’t be a LeBron James‘ style TV special):
Only one thing is clear: Howard won’t be announcing his free-agent decision in a nationally televised marketing disaster, as LeBron James did in 2010. Twitter is believed to be one option, but given Howard’s personality and camera presence, my money’s on a tweet linking to a YouTube video.
The possible locations for Howard’s decision-making summit are, in some ways, just as interesting as the decision itself. If Howard chooses to retreat to Montana with his advisers for the July 4 weekend, league sources say he’ll be hunkered down not far from where former Lakers coach Phil Jackson finds his inner Zen. If it’s Colorado, Howard will have plenty of company. Half of LA’s rich and famous — and a good portion of its rich and not-so-famous — vacation in Aspen for the holiday weekend.
Either way, the courtship is over. Now, it’s Howard’s show and we’re all just waiting for the curtain to rise.
It’ll be at least another day of waiting on Superman. We just hope he comes out of the mountains with a clear mind, a clear decision and a clear end to this drama.