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Kobe says of Dwight Howard Lakers need to “keep him and lock him in”

Jun 20, 2013, 2:45 AM EDT

Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard AP

I’m not sure how good the Lakers will be with Dwight Howard next season — Lakers fans and players point to the 28-12 stretch and say they can sustain that, I’m not sold — but I know this:

Without Howard the Lakers will be a mess next season.

Kobe Bryant realizes that too and said in a radio interview on Wednesday the Lakers need to re-sign Howard, and that he would help the process. The interview was on ESPN Radio in Los Angeles, as transcribed by Eric Pincus at the Los Angeles Times.

“Those guys are hard to find, they don’t grow on trees,” Bryant said on 710 ESPN Los Angeles. “When you have someone like that with his talent level, you have to be able to keep him and lock him in with this franchise….

“I’ve spoken to him maybe a couple of weeks ago, just to check in with him,” said Bryant. “I haven’t spoken to him since. I know he’s got a big decision to make and I’m sure he’ll take the visits and talk to the players on the teams he’s considering. We’ll touch base a lot more.”

Howard is a free agent come July 1 and a number of teams — Houston, Dallas, Atlanta — are expected to make their cases to Howard.

Kobe has said before he wants to step in more as a closer after Howard has heard everyone’s pitch. That is what late owner Jerry Buss did when Kobe was a free agent, let him talk to other teams then come in and remind him all the advantages of being a Laker and how the franchise planned to build around him. It worked when Buss did it, we’ll see if Kobe can have that same success.

Kobe was also asked about his recovery from his torn Achilles. He said his goal is still to play at the start of season but said that it could be December before he is back. It’s a process.

“I’ve been rehabbing now for about a month, almost a month and a half,” Bryant said. “At the beginning stages, it’s really boring stuff. It’s really just trying to get out the inflammation, break up the scar tissue [and] make sure your toes are working.”

  1. cowpiesnotcowboys - Jun 20, 2013 at 6:25 AM

    Howard would be wise to move to a team that can contend for a title. The Lakers are about to enter a major rebuilding cycle without either the salary cap space or draft picks to do it. Kobe is almost done and will never be the same. Many others are over the hill and too old to stay healthy. The window of opportunity for this set of players has closed. Dwight needs to recognize that and move on.

    • fanofevilempire - Jun 20, 2013 at 7:29 AM

      you should try bing and forget google……

      1.Lakers never do a major rebuilding cycle, check their trade history and ability
      to sign free agents.
      2.Their salary cap space is going to be good for 2014 and remember the Lakers
      have 16 championship banners hanging in Staples.
      3.Always, always, trust in the Mamba, tore his achillies and went to the line and
      hit two free throws.

      • loungefly74 - Jun 20, 2013 at 8:44 AM

        agree, empire. guys like cowpiesnotcowboys don’t take an ounce of consideration of the history of the league. i’m not guaranteeing a title but i am saying they will field a competitive team (that will have a legit shot to win the title). i am fully aware the next season or 2 have the great potential to be “down years” (or not)…but i would think they would do whatever they can to stay relevant.

      • 00maltliquor - Jun 20, 2013 at 12:24 PM

        ‘empire…

        Don’t bother these guys with facts. They don’t want to hear it. They have been salivating their whole lives, waiting for the Lakers to finally fall.

        Nevermind the Lakers will have the most cap space out of anyone after next season. Nooooo, they want to focus on the ONE upcoming season we are paying enough to buy a small island.

  2. 1historian - Jun 20, 2013 at 6:32 AM

    Agreed. I’m no Howard fan but he is quite talented and if he stays in L.A. they will win just enough games so that they won’t get a high draft pick.

    • fanofevilempire - Jun 20, 2013 at 10:12 AM

      Loungefly, I agree, Kobe will do anything, anything even
      give up salary for a few years for the chance
      to get # 6, he knows he has to get it to talk smack to MJ.
      He will help them, but Mitch has to get him help and management
      has to commit to make a run. I do not pretend I have ALL the answer
      but the Lakers don’t rebuild and they won’t stand
      by and watch that legacy take a hit.

  3. logisticalvoices - Jun 20, 2013 at 8:09 AM

    @fan- you should try to remember: don’t trust everything you read on the internets

    1. The Lakers “sixteen banners” do not have a magical quality that will automatically win you a seventeenth. Those are irrelevant.
    2. The Lakers do have cap issues since Kobe will want (and deserves) a max deal soon.
    3. With the new luxury tax, teams will have to rebuild differently than they ever have before. The Lakers are not prepared for this new era.

    • loungefly74 - Jun 20, 2013 at 8:51 AM

      yikes…you went 0 for 3 on your statements.

      1)the banner of course do not have “magic”…but the allure to play in LA (due to in part of the banners) attracts top players…it has for a long time….
      2)highly doubt Kobe would take a max deal…not sure what else to say about that…
      3)the Lakers spend money. they are able to afford absorbing high taxes due to their high revenue (see point #1 for one of the reasons why)…lets not act like we know how to run an NBA team.

      • logisticalvoices - Jun 20, 2013 at 9:11 AM

        That’s fine, you don’t have to believe me. But go re-read the transcript on PFT last week from the Dan Patrick’s Show. It’s easy to find. It’s the one where Phil Jackson says the Lakers lineup is a mess. Even your beloved coach, the one Lakers fans were chanting for about six months ago, thinks you have a mess on your hands.

        Good luck with number seventeen though. I’m rooting for you. Really, I am.

      • fanofevilempire - Jun 20, 2013 at 12:57 PM

        I bet their are few teams who want Pau, I don’t know if they trade him.
        I think the only long term contract belongs to Nash, how is that cap hell?

      • loungefly74 - Jun 20, 2013 at 11:09 PM

        exactly…

    • fanofevilempire - Jun 20, 2013 at 12:54 PM

      logistcalvoice

      1.I know the banners don’t have magic but they have attracted a few magic centers.
      They can get free agents, like Jerry West did by telling Shaq, you can hang a few too.
      2.Kobe is chasing MJ’S 6 rings, he will do anything, anything even give up Laker money
      and you don’t think he could make up the difference from nike. Kobe wants 6 rings so
      bad.
      3.The Lakers can pay the tax, don’t you think, they are paying it this year.

  4. menstyletoday - Jun 20, 2013 at 8:23 AM

    I agree with Cowpiesnotcowboys, Lakers are trending down as far as talent, and don’t have the legs to compete with OKC or the Clippers. Houston is up and coming and could play an inside- outside game with Lin and Harden, making them another “Big 3″

  5. paulhargis53 - Jun 20, 2013 at 8:24 AM

    fan: Maybe you should stop living in the past….

    Yeah, they USED to be able to do that stuff, but the new cba has/will take care of a lot of that.
    Players have to be willing to take less money if they are coming from a different team via free agency. The new sign and trade rules also dictate that the salary will match what the new team can offer, not the old team.
    There are also notany teams willing to make dumb trades with the Lakers back in the day.
    Yes they will have cap room, but will today’s greedy players be willing to take huge pay cuts to come to L.A., doubtful.

    Even if a trade were to be made, L.A. has no assets anyone wants, now or in 2014.

    2 out of the next 3 1st round picks ate traded already.

    I’d get used to 16 banners. Lakers are going to be stuck there for the next 5 years or so.

  6. skids003 - Jun 20, 2013 at 8:25 AM

    What?? I thought Kobe was so great he could win by himself. What they need is two good offensive rebounders to clean up all the shots he heaves up.

    • fanofevilempire - Jun 20, 2013 at 1:01 PM

      Kobe doesn’t want to play with guys who are scared.
      Kobe is not paid to pass the ball but if he does pass to
      you and you are frightened, well, you better shower quick!

    • badintent - Jun 21, 2013 at 11:49 PM

      I think even Kobeistis learned that when Shaq blew town, his Lakers couldn’t even get pass Suns in first round without a good center.

  7. paulhargis53 - Jun 20, 2013 at 9:07 AM

    loungeidiot: Read the GD cba! They just can’t spend and spend anymore! There are penalties for the tax repeaters, which is why they are stuck now!

    P.S., nobody but the fans care about banners from years past. Its about the here and now for the players.

    Grow up peter pan.

  8. tigerpork - Jun 20, 2013 at 9:48 AM

    kobe you just don’t get it….dwight don’t want to play with you.

    • fanofevilempire - Jun 20, 2013 at 1:02 PM

      what did Howard ever win, Kobe will survive.

  9. thomaskouns - Jun 20, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    I’m no Howard fan either, but Kobe should have thought of this before he trashed him in the media all season.

  10. danielholdenarbizu - Jun 20, 2013 at 1:13 PM

    I’m with Kobe. Lock him down in LA, and get a young point guard that can hit 3’s, and stay healthy. And get a real coach. We want Phil!!!

    • badintent - Jun 21, 2013 at 11:50 PM

      Phil is going , going gone. Long gone. JImmy tried to Zen the Zen master and got burned. But good.

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