Los Angeles Lakers’ general manager, Mitch Kupchak, hopes Dwight Howard decides to stay with the team.

Howard moved to the Lakers to great fanfare last summer from Orlando Magic but has endured an underwhelming campaign in Los Angeles, despite being a popular figure with who bet on NBA.

The 27-year-old center has the option of becoming a free agent on 1st July but says he has not yet made up his mind as to what the future holds.

If Howard decides to stay with the Lakers, he can sign a five-year $118million contract extension, while the most he would receive if he were to leave is a four-year deal worth $87.6million.

“I know in my heart that this is a place where I think he should be,” Kupchak said to NBA betting news reporters. “We have a great legacy, great history of great players in this city dating back to when the franchise came here in 1960, and he certainly fits the mold.”

However, Howard was non-committal when asked about his future, after the Lakers’ play-off hopes had been ended by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round. He said: “I want to get away from everything and focus on me and making the decision for me and that’s not happening today.

“At the end of the day, I can’t control who likes me and who dislikes me, but I have the right to be happy.”

A host of clubs are expected to be interested in signing Howard if he decides to head for pastures new, with the Dallas Mavericks, the Houston Rockets, and the Cleveland Cavaliers all reportedly interested in securing his services.

Meanwhile, Howard may have to endure an operation on the shoulder that has been troubling him throughout the season. He has missed six games because of the injury but he did not suffer any repercussions after having back surgery 12 months ago.

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