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Lakers' Kobe Bryant is moving on from Dwight Howard's departure

Kobe Bryant says he won't waste time figuring out why Dwight Howard spurned the Lakers to sign with the Rockets. Bryant also says he's ahead of schedule in his return from surgery.

July 11, 2013|By Mike Bresnahan and Melissa Rohlin

Strange but true, Kobe Bryant recounted with amusement, not anger, the Lakers' meeting with Dwight Howard last week.

"I walked in there and everybody's sitting down and everybody's quiet. I don't know what the hell is going on. Everybody is just really ... serious," Bryant said Wednesday. "It was really pretty funny to me."

After Howard chose the Houston Rockets over the Lakers, Bryant quickly "unfollowed" him on Twitter.

"Listen man, it's just me, that's just how I am," Bryant said. "I have a hard time following people that want to beat us. Not to say that we're not friends or I don't respect him or anything like that."

Bryant said he was happy for Howard but didn't want to look too far into the free-agent center's choice to sign a four-year, $88-million contract with Houston instead of a five-year, $118-million deal with the Lakers.

"You really think once a guy decides to go somewhere else I'm going to waste my time trying to figure out why that happened?" Bryant said.

Bryant was speaking to reporters before starting his annual summer camp at UC Santa Barbara.

In a separate interview with The Times, Bryant said he was "far ahead" in his recovery from a torn Achilles' tendon.

"Surprisingly so, but really ahead of schedule," he said.

His movement remained limited, but he expected to be more active with conditioning in August.

Bryant, who turns 35 next month and will be in the final year of his contract next season, didn't sense the end being near.

"I've been rejuvenated somewhat by the injury and inspired by watching what San Antonio was able to accomplish this year, so I'm ready for at least another three [years]," he said. "I think mentally I'm more locked in, more engaged on the prospects of playing another three or four years."

Bryant scoffed when told the Lakers would struggle next season but acknowledged there was a "collection of guys" a year from now when the Lakers would have about $50 million to spend toward the 2014-15 season.

"Next summer is supposed to be a really, really big summer in terms of free agents that are available, and there's no shortage of great players, so I'm sure we'll hopefully have a nice pick," he said.

Would he rather play with LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony, who can each become free agents next July?

"I've played with both of them on the U.S. team," Bryant said. "I don't even understand what the rules are; I don't know if I'll get in trouble for all of this stuff, but I enjoy playing with both of them and had a great time playing with them on the U.S. team."

Almost two weeks into free agency this summer, the Lakers are trying to find more players to build around Bryant, who was busy at his camp teaching at least 500 students the intricacies of the Princeton, triangle and flex offenses, not to mention the concepts of bullying and self-confidence.

The Lakers continue to hope for a return of Lamar Odom, who is weighing whether to return to the Clippers or Lakers for $1.4 million, or try to get a little more with another team.

The Lakers are also trying to sign a complicated deal with free-agent guard Jordan Farmar. He hopes to return to his former team for $1.2 million, but the Lakers must negotiate a $500,000 buyout of his contract with Turkish pro team Anadolu Efes.

The Lakers want to pay less than that to obtain Farmar, who averaged 6.9 points and 2.1 assists in four years with them before leaving after the 2009-10 season. "We are currently working with Jordan to see if we can reach an agreement between him, the Lakers, and his team in Turkey," Lakers spokesman John Black said.

Farmar last played in the NBA during the 2011-12 season, averaging 10.4 points and 3.3 assists with the New Jersey Nets.

Farmar remained hopeful that a deal could be made.

"To be able to play with Steve Nash toward the end of his career and learn some things that can help me ... I'm still only 26," Farmar told The Times on Wednesday. "I'm going to soak up as much as I can from him and then to play with Kobe, who will be determined to make something happen the last few years of his career, I just felt like that was important for me to learn and move on in the rest of my career."

If Farmar returned, the Lakers would have five guards and would not sign another former Lakers player, Sasha Vujacic, considered a longshot to make their roster in the first place.

As usual, there are a lot of "ifs" this time of year, but there was one actual signing by the Lakers on Wednesday. Reserve center Robert Sacre accepted a one-year deal for just under $1 million after averaging 1.3 points and 1.1 rebounds as a rookie.

"I've definitely seen more in one year than most guys have seen in five," Sacre said, an obvious nod to the Lakers' lack of on-court chemistry,and a first-round playoff flameout against San Antonio.

"I'm glad I went through it. Now I can just move on and just keep working on my game."

Sacre will be on the Lakers' summer league team, but not Darius Morris, Andrew Goudelock or Devin Ebanks, an apparent goodbye from the franchise to all three players.

Second-round draft pick Ryan Kelly (foot surgery) also won't play in the summer league, though small forward Chris Douglas-Roberts will be on the team, which debuts Friday and plays at least three games.

Metta World Peace was not waived by the Lakers on the first day of the weeklong window to cut players via the NBA "amnesty" provision.

He tried to maintain a sense of humor Wednesday, despite some poor spelling, on his Twitter feed. "I have to amnesty my jeans. Their too tight," he wrote. "I think I might waive my tooth brush also. I need a new one."

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

melissa.rohlin@latimes.com

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan

Twitter: @melissarohlin

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