The Los Angeles Lakers are yet to open the regular season, but some of the attention has already shifted to next offseason and beyond. On Tuesday, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak was asked about the long-term futures of Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard.
Howard, who the Lakers acquired in a four-team offseason trade, is playing the final season of his contract. Asked if he's received assurances Howard will re-sign with Los Angeles, Kupchak said he has not asked and doesn't intend to ask that question. Instead, Howard and the Lakers will wait until the summer. As far as what it would take to re-sign Howard, Kupchak pointed to a number of factors.
"Winning a championship wouldn't hurt," Kupchak said, according to the Daily News. "If we didn't win it this year, would that factor into his decision? I don't know. I would think that if he has a great year and there's great chemistry and the city embraces him like I think we do and will, I'm not sure it would be a factor. But that's something that he'll have to decide. He doesn't have to decide that now."
As far as Kobe Bryant's possible retirement following the 2013-14 season, Kupchak said he doesn't know how an organization replaces a player like Bryant. He's taking a short-term view on it, looking to have a strong season, attempt to re-sign Howard then focus on the Bryant's future and any possible free agent replacements when the time comes.
The Lakers open the regular season on October 30 against Dallas.