Kobe Bryant appears more open to the idea of playing beyond next summer than he was before his Achilles injury, but his plans to stick around longer didn't sit well with Dwight Howard, according to Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Howard was having a difficult time envisioning himself as the star of the team with Bryant still present, sources tell Shelburne and Stein, and that appears to have persuaded the big man to sign with the Rockets instead of the Lakers.
Howard's camp apparently asked the Lakers if they were considering an amnesty of Bryant, a scenario that could have made it easier for the team to clear room for both Howard and Chris Paul. The Lakers weren't open to that idea, and they were also unwilling to make a coaching change to appease Howard, who asked the team to hire Phil Jackson during this past season.
The All-Star center and Dan Fegan client was also upset with the Lakers' marketing plan for him, as Stein and Shelburne write. Howard's closest confidant on the team was GM Mitch Kupchak, and he intended to meet with the executive to tell him in person on Friday that he had chosen to sign with the Rockets. With word out in the media that he had already picked Houston, Howard elected to simply call Kupchak instead.