Since the Los Angeles Lakers were eliminated from the playoffs multiple reports have surfaced regarding Dwight Howard's future with the franchise. Despite the many bits of information from "sources", however, Howard had not conducted any interviews with the media since his exit interview. Until now.
Howard met with T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times and discussed his outlook going into free agency, which officially begins on July 1. When asked why he hasn't committed to Los Angeles, Howard reiterated that free agency is an opportunity that he intends to fully explore and that he "just wants to win":
Between missed shots, I asked why he hasn't committed to the Lakers.
"It's free agency and I have the opportunity to choose where I'm going to play," he said. "God opens doors, and I'm relying on my faith to direct me."I don't think it's fair I get criticized for waiting on such an opportunity."
But what does he want in a team?
"I want to win; I've done everything else," he said. "I just want to win."
What will Howard be looking for when he meets with teams during his free agency period? Howard tells Simers that he wants to hear how teams "plan on winning" and "what each opportunity offers":
"I want to see what each opportunity offers," Howard said. "I want to see how people plan on winning."
The Rockets are expected to make a push to sign Howard, with reports from ESPN's Marc Stein indicating that Howard has given the franchise "hopeful signals", and Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reporting that Houston will look to dump the $3.5 million salary of second-year player (and fifth overall pick of the 2012 NBA Draft) Thomas Robinson in order to clear cap space in their pursuit of the big man.
The full interview from Simers is worth checking out to read more about Howard's thought process as he closes in on becoming a free agent.
Here's one last nugget from the interview, where Simers asks Howard what he thinks about Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni. Howard responds by saying that he's a "great person" and he is "glad [they] had the opportunity to be together.":
Soak it up, there's still roughly an entire month until Howard's contract expires and the real action begins.
So what do you think of D'Antoni?
"I love him," he said. "He's a great person."
Is he a great coach?
"He's a great person and I'm glad we had the opportunity to be together," said Howard, which some will undoubtedly interpret as goodbye.