Lakers News: Kobe Bryant’s Rapid Recovery Should Help Dwight Howard Negotiations

Once the clock struck 12:01 a.m. ET on Monday, the entire future of the Los Angeles Lakers franchise began hanging in the balance.

It was at that time that star center and free-agent-du-jour Dwight Howard was meeting with the Houston Rockets in Los Angeles. Flocked with an army that included James Harden and Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon at his side, general manager Daryl Morey pitched Howard on coming to Houston. According to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, the Rockets even had ex-center Yao Ming pitch to Howard via Skype. 

The meeting was an excess in flattery—and a successful one at that. Wojnarowski reported that the Rockets are currently the "frontrunners" for Howard—a status that puts the Lakers in a standing, well, somewhere other than front-runner status.

There are, however, some glimmers of hope. Sam Amick of USA Today reported earlier Monday that Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak made it a point to connect with Howard as free agency approached. Kupchak and Howard spoke first on Saturday, where the GM gave the star center a mini-pitch on what he means to the Lakers and why he should stay.

The second meeting, just before Howard met with the Rockets, was merely a good-luck talk, but the message remains the same: Howard is Los Angeles' top priority, and the team is willing to do just about anything to keep him in town.

What's unclear is how the Lakers will move beyond the flattery in their talks. Howard just languished through arguably the worst year of his professional career, with internal turmoil and an untenable coaching situation marring his only season in Los Angeles.

One thing the going in the Lakers' favor—or at least going better than expected—is Kobe Bryant's recovery from surgery on his Achilles tendon. The star guard ruptured the Achilles in April, effectively ending the Lakers' playoff run before the regular seaso...

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