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Dwight free agency: Mitch Kupchak releases official statement, says Lakers remain 'hopeful' Howard returns

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The Lakers' general manager met with Dwight Howard Tuesday afternoon, along with Kobe Bryant and an assortment of other figures.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA TODAY Sports Images

The Los Angeles Lakers have finished their meeting with free agent center Dwight Howard, and his free agency presentations are now over. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak spoke with media after the meeting and said the organization is "hopeful" Howard will decide to remain a Laker according to Lakers reporter Mike Trudell. His full statement can be read below:

Jim Buss, Mike D'Antoni, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Tim Harris and I, along with representatives from our partners at Time Warner Cable SportsNet and AEG, met this afternoon for approximately two hours with Dwight Howard and his representatives Dan Fegan and Happy Walters. At the meeting, we told him how important he is to the Lakers team, franchise, fans and community, and why we feel this is the best place for him to continue his career. We are hopeful that Dwight decides to remain a Laker.

Kucphak also met with Howard on Saturday prior to his contract expiring, and slipped in to meet with Howard in person minutes to wish him well during his free agency "tour" before he held his meeting with the Houston Rockets immediately following his free agency becoming official.

Steve Nash and Mike D'Antoni were the first to exit the meeting and did not go into great detail regarding the Lakers pitch. Nash believes the discussions were "productive", though, as they went into how they can build on what they accomplished through the 2012-2013 NBA season.

Howard met with the Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, Golden State Warriors, Dallas Mavericks and Lakers. With all five pitches being made, the decision now rests on his shoulders.

- Drew

- Follow this author on Twitter @DrewGarrisonSBN