Howard expands own free agent search

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Though still early in the free agent process, many teams are making their pitch to land star center Dwight Howard.
The Los Angeles Lakers finalized their pitch to Howard during a Tuesday afternoon visit. The Atlanta Hawks, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors also met with the star center.
"Jim Buss, Mike D'Antoni, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Tim Harris and I, along with representatives from our partners at Time Warner Cable SportsNet and AEG, met this afternoon for approximately two hours with Dwight Howard and his representatives, Dan Fegan and Happy Walters," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said in a statement.
"At the meeting, we told him how important he is to the Lakers' team, franchise, fans and community, and why we feel this is the best place for him to continue his career. We are hopeful that Dwight decides to remain a Laker."
Howard met with Hawks general manager Danny Ferry and new coach Mike Budenholzer in Los Angeles. Ferry told ESPN's Shelley Smith the meeting went "well," but offered no other comment about bringing Howard back to his hometown.
"I had a lot of great meetings," Howard said before leaving in a white Ferrari.
Golden State remains an unlikely destination because Howard's landing there would require a sign-and-trade agreement with the Lakers, in order to facilitate a maximum contract -- something sources told the Lakers are unwilling to do for an in-state rival.
The Warriors' contingent included owner Joe Lacob, GM Bob Myers, head coach Mark Jackson and special consultant Jerry West.
The Dallas Mavericks also are trying to lure Howard. A group that included team owner Mark Cuban and star Dirk Nowitzki met with Howard Tuesday morning, according to Cuban and Howard's agent, Dan Fegan, are longtime acquaintances.
The Rockets also met with Howard for nearly three hours on Sunday night in Los Angeles, shortly after the free-agent period opened at 12:01 a.m. ET.
In addition to Bryant and Nash, Buss and Time Warner Cable representatives were expected to play a role in the Lakers' presentation. Hollywood star and longtime Lakers fan Jack Nicholson also spoke to Howard by phone, according to
The NBA reportedly signed off on Time Warner Cable SportsNet being part of the meeting, as long as they don't violate league rules by offering further compensation.
Nash tweeted Monday that he was flying to Los Angeles for the meeting.
"@DwightHoward we're coming for you," Nash wrote. "You're going to love the statue we build for you outside Staples in 20yrs!"
When Howard met with the Houston delegation, his questions focused on how the Rockets would add another free agent star to play with him and James Harden, according to the Houston Chronicle. Others from the Rockets involved in the meeting were forwards Harden and Chandler Parsons, general manager Daryl Morey and coach Kevin McHale, along with Rocket legends Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon, who has worked with Howard in the offseason for several years.
Yao Ming, another former Rockets' star center, connected to the meeting from China via Skype, and spoke to Howard about his experiences with Houston.

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