From Elizabeth Benson, Lakers Nation: If you have been waiting for Dwight Howard to speak on his own behalf, using his own words, to discuss his upcoming free agency on July 1, today is your lucky day. After a couple of weeks of hearing and reading reports and rumors from “sources,” Dwight himself responded to all the talk and criticism of his upcoming big decision this summer. Dwight conducted an interview with the Los Angeles TimesT.J. Simers, and while he didn’t give any groundbreaking news regarding his free agency, the interview was quite interesting and gave us his perspective on the matter.
From TheGreatMambino, Silver Screen & Roll: No playbooks, no advanced metrics, no salary cap. Just pure, unadulterated, Lakers fandom. And the fan in me knows that for the sake of the Lakers and Kobe Bryant, I cannot, under any circumstances, root for the San Antonio Spurs. Even if that means pulling for LeBron James and his Miami Heat. Lakers fans everywhere have been without a horse in the playoff picture since the first round. The Show met its end with a quiet, anonymous sweep at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs, but even the team’s foremost nemese have been vanquished for weeks. Their STAPLES Center hallmate Clippers were manhandled by the Memphis Grizzlies in the last four games of a six game series. Their eternal foes from Boston had a prideful 4-2 exit against the New York Knicks. Even recent Lakers killers like Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder had their championship hopes effectively killed in the first round, with Russ going down with a torn meniscus. With the exception of everyone’s most despised enemy in the Miami Heat, Lakers fans haven’t had much to cheer for–or against–lately. However, as painful and disgusting as it may sound, Lakers Nation has to be rooting for LeBron in Game 7 tonight. The primary reason? Legacy.
From Eric Pincus, LA Times: The Lakers don’t have to say it and can’t under the rules, but they’ve got to be pulling for the Indiana Pacers to beat the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals. They’d probably even root for the San Antonio Spurs to win the title if that means the Heat loses in the NBA Finals. The reason, of course, would be a shot at future free agent LeBron James. If James wins his second title in as many years, he might be more likely to stick around in Miami for the duration of his career. The All-Star forward can opt out of the final two years of his contract after next season, making him a potential unrestricted free agent in 2014.
From Steve Martinez, ESPN: Of the players in the post-Jordan era of the NBA, it’s a fair argument that Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant are two of the most accomplished individuals. While LeBron James will no doubt be a part of this discussion once his career is near its end, he has not yet built up a statistical resume quite as hefty as Duncan or Bryant. Duncan (16 seasons) and Bryant (17) have about the same NBA service time, especially when you consider that Kobe was not much of an impact rookie in 1996-97 (7.6 PPG, 6 starts) while Duncan was the 1997-98 NBA Rookie of the Year, starting all 82 games and averaging 21.1 PPG and 11.9 RPG (keep in mind there were no 20-10 players in the entire NBA this season).
From Brett Pollakoff, Pro Basketball Talk: Once the report came out that Dwight Howard was “most intrigued” by the Rockets in free agency, it was guaranteed that the Houston franchise would begin to put plans in motion to do everything in its power to give itself the best chance at landing the All-Star center this summer. The Rockets let teams around the league know that Thomas Robinson could be had essentially for free, just so they could shed salary in an attempt to create the cap space necessary to sign Howard to the max contract he will require. It would appear that these overtures from Houston have been well received by the Howard camp.