Ever since the Lakers’ disastrous season ended a little over two months ago, general manager Mitch Kupchak devoted plenty of time reiterating to Dwight Howard’s representatives how much he wanted him here.
Kupchak took that one step further. He squeezed in a brief and informal meeting with the Lakers center on Saturday, the day before free agency began, according to a league source. Kupchak also arranged with Howard to have another face-to-face discussion shortly after free agency began at 9 p.m. PST on Sunday just before he had dinner with several members of the Houston Rockets.
The Lakers will meet with Howard on Tuesday, in what will mark the last team the star center will meet during his free agency process. Howard honored the Lakers scheduling request, out of hope that would give them the opportunity to say the last word in convincing him to stay.
But according to a source, Kupchak wanted to have personal interaction with Howard at the beginning of free agency out of belief it would send a stronger message in wanting to resign him than settling for a phone conversation. Howard can resign with the Lakers to a five-year deal worth $118 million, as opposed to a four-year deal worth $87.6 million.
Howard met Monday with the Atlanta Hawks and the Golden State Warriors at an undisclosed location in Los Angeles. He then plans to meet with the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday before talking with the Lakers.
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org