Kobe Bryant wants 'final word' in Dwight Howard's free agency

USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant will go about recruiting Dwight Howard in a calculated sort of way.

Kobe Bryant says he and the Los Angeles Lakers would like Dwight Howard to return, but he knows the big man will look into all of his options when he officially becomes a free agent on July 1.

Bryant's role in recruiting Howard will be key, however. In an interview with ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin, Bryant said that he's already planned how his recruiting pitch might go.

"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 said. "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."

For more on the Lakers: Check out Silver Screen and Roll

This is of course a storyline because of the relationship between the two stars. Where Bryant is the serious, aggressive personality, Howard is the smiling jokester. The two reportedly displayed icy behavior toward one another during this year's All-Star contest and Bryant's public jabs at Howard during the center's shoulder injury made it clear there were issues to work out.

The duo later said that they had a fine working relationship, but for Howard to return to Los Angeles, it's likely Bryant's role this offseason will be of utmost importance.

If Bryant's "final word" doesn't get across, Howard could decide to jump ship and sign with the Houston Rockets or Dallas Mavericks, who appear to be the most obvious landing spots for the All-Star center based on their clearing of cap space.

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