Kobe Bryant wants the final word.
In a sit-down interview with Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com, Bryant discussed his recovery from a torn Achilles suffered late in the regular season, Phil Jackson's book, the inevitable comparisons to Michael Jordan and the impending free agency of Dwight Howard.
"For me, you kind of let him do his due diligence and then move in and talk to him and figure out if this is a place he wants to be," Bryant told McMenamin. "We all want him here. But then that's when the selling begins [after Howard is courted by other teams]. You don't start the selling process right before he goes and does all this stuff. You want to get the last word. You want to have the final word and the closing argument. I'll give him a little opening statement, but then I have to make sure I have the final word."
Bryant may have to be quite persuasive, given the list of potential suitors for Howard. The Rockets and Mavericks have been rumored to intrigue Howard, according to Ken Berger of CBS Sports. Mark Medina of the Long Beach Press-Telegram added the Hawks and Warriors to the list of team who may enter the Howard sweepstakes.
The NBA’s free agency season begins after midnight on July 1st. One of Los Angeles’ advantages if it hopes to retain Howard is the ability to offer him a max contract of $118 million over five years, which is about $30 million more than other teams can offer, per ProBasketballTalk.
That means the Lakers have two persuasive things working in their favor: Kobe and cash.