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GM hopes Howard stays in LA

The SportsXchange

Now that the Los Angeles' Lakers season has ended, the speculation will begin in earnest about center Dwight Howard's return next season.

Howard has the option of becoming a free agent on July 1. He says he hasn't made up his mind yet, but Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak remained steadfast Tuesday in expressing his hope that Howard will be back for a second season and beyond in a Lakers uniform.

"I know in my heart that this is a place where I think he should be," Kupchak said, according to ESPN. "We have a great legacy, great history of great players in this city dating back to when the franchise came here in 1960, and he certainly fits the mold."

Kupchak also hopes that Howard makes a decision soon on his future. But Howard doesn't seem to be in a hurry.

"I want to get away from everything and focus on me and making the decision for me and that's not happening today," Howard said.

Howard and his teammates departed Tuesday after exit interviews with Kupchak and coach Mike D'Antoni. The Lakers were swept out of the playoffs by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round.

If Howard decides to test the waters, there will be plenty of initerest. Among the teams mentioned as possible destinations are Dallas, Houston and Cleveland, according to ESPNLosAngeles.com.

"For me, I'm going to do what's best for myself, what's going to make me happy," Howard said. "At the end of the day, I can't control who likes me and who dislikes me, but I have the right to be happy."

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