For how much uncertainty surrounding the Lakers, very little of the NBA draft provided clarity. The Lakers selected Duke forward Ryan Kelly with the 48th pick in the second round. He could help the Lakers' floor spacing and outside shooting considering he averaged 12.9 points on 42.2 percent shooting from 3-point range his senior year. But many of the questions Lakers want answered won't happen Sunday evening when free agency starts beginning at 9:01 p.m. Namely, where will Dwight Howard go? "I think I'm optimistic," Kupchak said. "But I understand there's a possibility he won't return." Kupchak wouldn't say whether he's been told the Lakers will be the final team that meets with Howard, who will begin visiting teams beginning next week. Those include the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors, possibly more. Kupchak also sidestepped questions on whether Howard dislikes Mike D'Antoni's system. Kupchak has frequently stressed the Lakers' interest in resigning Howard to five-year, $118 million contract. Other teams can sign Howard to a four-year deal worth $87.6 million. Kupchak has also persistently praised Howard, who averaged 17.1 points and a league-leading 12.4 rebounds in the first season with the Lakers. He's argued Howard's lowest numbers since the 2006-07 season with the Orlando Magic mostly reflected his respective back and shoulder injuries. The Lakers also have unveiled billboards throughout Los Angeles, including Staples Center, asking for Howard to remain with the team. The signs display a picture of Howard with the word, "STAY" followed by the hashtag, "StayD12." "We want to be as aggressive and proactive as possible and do it what we feel was the right way without going overboard," Kupchak said. "The message is simple. We care about you and want you to stay." The Lakers have issues beyond Howard's future. After fielding a $100 million payroll last season, they can only acquire a player through the mini mid-level exception ($3.2 million) or veteran's minimum ($1.4 million). The only way to make a major move would involve a trade, likely Pau Gasol as a centerpiece.
L.A. takes Duke's Kelly in second round, but Dwight Howard's the story
L.A. Daily News | Jun 28