Lakers center Dwight Howard becomes an unrestricted free agent Sunday… (Damian Dovarganes / Associated…)
The Lakers have been told they will be the final team to meet with free agent Dwight Howard, who will begin taking visits with other teams next week.
Howard becomes an unrestricted free agent at 9:01 p.m. Pacific Time on Sunday and is expected to meet with at least three other organizations -- Atlanta, Houston and Dallas.
Howard will then sit down with his most recent team, the Lakers. They have not been informed yet of the time and place for that meeting.
Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak has met several times with Howard's representatives since the Lakers' season ended abruptly in April.
During those meetings, Kupchak has reaffirmed the Lakers' interest in signing Howard to a five-year, $118-million contract. Other teams can offer only four years and $88 million.
Howard, 27, averaged 17.1 points and a league-leading 12.4 rebounds in his only season with the Lakers.
Besides Kupchak's private backing of Howard, the Lakers have started a public campaign to keep Howard with the team. They unveiled billboards throughout Los Angeles, including in Hollywood and on the side of Staples Center, that show action shots of Howard with the simple all-capitals phrase "STAY."
The billboards also encourage Lakers fans to voice their support on Twitter at the hashtag "StayD12."
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