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Dwight Howard still undecided on L.A. future

Posted: July 1, 2013 10:29 p.m.
Updated: July 1, 2013 10:29 p.m.

With Monday's opening of NBA free agency, Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard is exploring his options before deciding on his future with the Lakers.

 

Free agency opened Monday in the NBA with the focus on Los Angeles All-Stars Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, though Paul took himself off the market only hours after shopping season started.

Howard will need more time to think.

Agent Leon Rose confirmed Paul’s return, which had been expected after the Clippers signed Doc Rivers as their new coach.

Howard can make even more by staying with the Lakers, but that won’t stop him from looking elsewhere.

He met with the Houston Rockets early Monday, the Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks also are interested, and the Lakers have said repeatedly they want to keep him.

The Rockets got the first crack at persuading him to leave. With Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler joining its contingent, Houston pitched Howard on joining All-Star James Harden.

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey wrote on Twitter that it was a great meeting with Howard and that having Olajuwon and Drexler there “made it obvious how (Howard and Harden) could be the next (great) big/wing combo.”

Hawks general manager Danny Ferry and new coach Mike Budenholzer were visiting Howard later Monday, trying to convince him to join his hometown team.

And he’ll meet Tuesday with the Lakers’ delegation. His first — perhaps only — season in Los Angeles was a disappointment and he acknowledged being unhappy at times. But the Lakers want to keep the former Defensive Player of the Year, believing the extra year and about $30 million more they can give him will provide a huge advantage.

Steve Nash, who like Howard had a difficult first season in Los Angeles, tweeted Monday that he was flying from New York to Los Angeles to help the Lakers make their pitch.

“(Dwight Howard) we’re coming for you,” he wrote. “You’re going to love the statue we build for you outside Staples in 20yrs!”

Contracts can’t be signed until July 10, after the next season’s salary cap has been set.

The Hawks also were expected to meet with their unrestricted free agents, Josh Smith and Kyle Korver, on their trip to Los Angeles, a person with knowledge of the plans told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because Monday’s meetings have not been officially announced.

There is plenty of interest in Smith, a versatile forward, and Deron Williams announced the Nets’ interest in Korver by posting a picture of the sharp shooter in a Brooklyn uniform on social media.

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