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Dwight Howard plans to “clear my head” before deciding future

May 1, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT

Dwight Howard AP

Dwight Howard is a free agent and he has waited for this moment. He played out his contract, he has earned the right to choose where he wants to work.

He’s not going to rush this.

While the conventional wisdom is he will re-sign with the Lakers, he is going to look around. Eventually. But he said in his exit interview Tuesday he wouldn’t talk about it other than to say he’s not going to rush the process.

“I’m going to take my time, get away from the game, my phones and everything and just clear my head,” Howard said. “I’ll do what’s going to be best for myself, what’s going to make me happy. I can’t control who likes me, who dislikes me, but I have the right to be happy.”

Don’t we all?

Howard can say that because he’s not officially a free agent until July 1. At that point look for him to talk to Houston, Dallas and maybe Cleveland or other squads as well as the Lakers.

Both Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash said they want Howard to return. Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak tried to send a message to the notoriously indecisive Howard — we want you here, but if you want us to build a good team around you then don’t drag this process out.

“I think he has complete faith in the organization. I think he does like living here. I think it’s all good, which leads me to why I’m optimistic,” Kupchak said…

“I think he understands that the sooner he makes a decision, the better it is for everybody. I don’t know if that means a week, a month or seven weeks.”

If there was one other thing to take away from Kupchack’s press conference, it’s that Mike D’Antoni will be back as coach next season. You’d like to think that would get Lakers fans to drop the Phil Jackson fantasy — he’s not coming — but that dream dies hard.

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