From Ramona Shelburne, ESPN LA: Nine years ago, the Lakers had no choice but to wait. No hints were forthcoming, no tweets to tip them off. The news came more slowly, not minute-by-minute. But the same sense of dread filled the air. Every indication then pointed toward 25-year-old Kobe Bryant bolting for the younger, fresherLos Angeles Clippers. But there was time then. Enough time for the Lakers to turn him around. And ultimately that’s what the Lakers owner at the time, Dr. Jerry Buss, did in a last-minute, face-to-face meeting with his young star.This time around, with Dr. Buss gone and his son and GM Mitch Kupchak in his place, the Lakers weren’t as persuasive. And instead of one last face-to-face meeting, they merely got the word from Dwight Howard when he reached his decision and Twitter quickened the pace of the news. Or maybe they never had a chance to retain Howard anyway.
From Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo Sports: Within the Los Angeles Lakers, there had been a belief that a late January team meeting in Memphis could’ve been the beginning of Dwight Howard’s future with the franchise, or merely the beginning of the end. No restraints, no mercy, no holding back. Kobe Bryant had climbed into Howard in a way that was startling, sobering, a moment of penetrating and unpleasant truths. Every time you trash me to teammates, it gets back to me, witnesses said Bryant told Howard in the visiting locker room of the FedEx Forum. Every time you do one of your impersonations when I walk out of the room, I find out. Everything tumbled out of Bryant, one grievance after another, and theLakers coaches and players sat watching the two biggest personas in the room push closer together, or irreconcilably apart.
From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen & Roll: Dear Dwight, So you’ve made your decision, and you want to be a Houston Rocket. That’s cool. I think you made the right choice, not because I think Houston is the better team for future championship prospects, but because it was as obvious to me as it was to you that you just didn’t fit well in Los Angeles, or more appropriately, you didn’t fit well in purple and gold. But on October 29th, or Christmas Day, or whatever random day the NBA decides for the Lakers to host the Houston Rockets at Staples Center for the first time, you will be booed mercilessly.
From Ross Gasmer, Lakers Nation: I never thought I’d write about what the Lakers would do without Dwight Howard. While everyone believed that he was Houston bound, privately I believed that he would see the light and return to the franchise that would give him the best chance of winning a championship. There was a moment on Friday that I believed the light bulb turned on, that he’d realized that the Lakers were right for him and that he’d return. That he would understand that he was next in line. He would follow Mikan, Chamberlain, Abdul-Jabbar and O’Neal. Somebody schooled him on the history of the Lakers and he finally understood that there was no place better, regardless of the sales pitch, for him to play basketball.
From Ken Berger, CBS: Who walks away from the Lakers? Dwight Howard, that’s who. Dwight Howard and nobody else. But that’s not what’s going to be important about this. What’s going to be important is what happens next. If Dwight Howard walks away from the Lakers and wins a championship or championships, he’ll be the guy who boldly wrote his own script — a Hall of Famer who overcame the childish proclivities of his late 20s and turned into a winner who didn’t want to follow anyone. He’ll be the guy who took $30 million less for what he perceived as a better chance to win.