Lakers center Dwight Howard struggles to get to the basket while guarded… (John Raoux / Associated…)
The Lakers have made their pitch.
Free-agent center Dwight Howard sat with the Lakers for 90 minutes in Beverly Hills on Tuesday, hearing his final pitch after meeting with the Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, Golden State Warriors and Dallas Mavericks.
Now it's up to him to decide where he'll play.
"Jim Buss, Mike D'Antoni, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Tim Harris and I, along with representatives from our partners at Time Warner Cable Sports Net and AEG, met this afternoon for approximately two hours with Dwight Howard and his representatives Dan Fegan and Happy Walters," said Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak in a prepared statement.
"At the meeting, we told him how important he is to the Lakers team, franchise, fans and community, and why we feel this is the best place for him to continue his career. We are hopeful that Dwight decides to remain a Laker,” the statement said.
Howard met for about four hours earlier in the day with Mark Cuban and representatives of the Mavericks.
The NBA free agency period began on July 1. Though Howard can verbally agree with a team, he cannot sign a contract until the league's moratorium on free-agent signings expires July 10.
The Lakers can offer Howard a five-year, $118-million contract. Other franchises can give the veteran center only a maximum four-year, $88-million contract -- although the teams in Texas benefit from the fact Texas has no state income tax.
Howard's stated goal is to be "happy." It remains to be seen exactly what that means.
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Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.