EL SEGUNDO (AP) — In words and deeds, the Los Angeles Lakers are making it clear how they feel about Dwight Howard.
The Lakers took the unusual step earlier this week of putting up billboards around the LA area with a large photo of the center and the word “Stay.” General manager Mitch Kupchak also addressed his feelings late Thursday night after the NBA draft.
“The message is simple: we care about you and we want you to stay,” Kupchak said.
Howard’s impending free agency has been prominent in the Lakers’ minds since their season ended in a first-round playoff sweep.
Howard, a seven-time All-Star, has vowed to make his decision in his own best interests, giving no indication he favored the Lakers over any other team. The free agency period begins at 9:01 p.m. PDT Sunday.
Kupchak used the word “optimistic” to describe his feelings about what Howard might do. The Lakers can offer a maximum of $118 million over five seasons, and other teams can offer $88 million over four years.
End of era as Celtics rebuild without Pierce: BOSTON (AP) — Letting Doc Rivers go to the Los Angeles Clippers was the first sign. Getting rid of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett clinched it.
The Boston Celtics are rebuilding.
The Celtics have agreed to the terms of a deal that would send the two remaining members of the Big Three that won the 2008 NBA title to the Brooklyn Nets for a package of draft picks and players.
Pierce is the longest-tenured member of the team, its captain, a 10-time All-Star and a likely Hall of Famer. Garnett is also a future Hall of Famer, though only the last six years of his career were in Boston.
That’s why Pierce’s departure is the one that signals the end of an era in Boston.
Allen returning to Heat next season: MIAMI (AP) — Ray Allen is returning to the Miami Heat next season.
Allen exercised his $3.2 million player option Friday, barely a week after the Heat finished off the San Antonio Spurs to win the NBA Finals in seven games. Allen made one of the biggest shots in Heat history, a 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left in Game 6 of the finals to tie the game and force an overtime where Miami ultimately prevailed.
Allen turns 38 next month, yet still played in 102 games during the regular season and playoffs for Miami. That was the most appearances by any player in the league this past season.
Allen averaged 10.9 points in the regular season, and 10.2 points in the playoffs for the Heat.