Dwight Howard can expect a phone call from Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak at 9:01… (Wally Sklaij / Los Angeles…)
General Manager Mitch Kupchak will pick up the phone at 9:01 p.m. Sunday and call Dwight Howard's agent. Then the Lakers' pursuit of Howard will officially begin.
A few pleasantries will be exchanged, including Kupchak's affirmation that the Lakers want to re-sign the summer's biggest free agent to a five-year, $118-million contract.
It won't be earth-shattering. Just the start of a fairly short courting process, the Lakers hope.
"I don't think anything dramatic is going to take place June 30 at 9:01 regarding Dwight," Kupchak said recently.
Howard will also meet with Dallas, Atlanta and Houston, where he can go for four years and $88 million. He cannot officially sign with anybody until July 10.
The Lakers have been told they'll be the last team to make a presentation to Howard. They are expected to meet with him Tuesday in Los Angeles.
They ramped up their public pursuit of Howard last week by unveiling a handful of billboards throughout the city that implored him to return.
The team also released on its Twitter feed digitally altered photos of Howard at two Los Angeles landmarks. One image shows the back of his No. 12 jersey draped over the Beverly Hills Hotel. Another image shows Howard sticking out his tongue with his right arm stretched over the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Howard has been quiet on his Twitter feed since sending out a congratulatory tweet after Miami won the NBA Finals.
Howard, 27, averaged 17.1 points and a league-high 12.4 rebounds last season.
As expected, the Lakers waived veteran guard Chris Duhon, who had an uneventful season after coming over from Orlando in the Howard trade.
Duhon, 30, would have earned $3.75 million but was bought out for about $1.5 million. He averaged 2.9 points in 46 games last season.
Excluding Howard, the Lakers currently have only seven players under contract next season for $76 million.