Kupchak talks keeping Dwight in Laker Land

It hasn't really started up yet, but a question that is going to come up every now and then is whether Dwight Howard is going to re-sign with the Los Angeles Lakers.  He's played in one preseason game so far and looked pretty sharp for not having played basketball for six months.  Assuming he's healthy, most fans and basketball writers will assume the Lakers are going to do well right out of the gate even if they're still learning a new offense and integrating Howard and Steve Nash in to the defensive scheme.

How the Lakers do on the floor and in the locker room matters as much to General Manager Mitch Kupchak as it does anyone else because of Howard's impending free agency.  Kupchak told the Daily News he hasn't asked Howard about re-signing with the Lakers next summer, but wasn't shy about offering up what it'd take to get Howard to return.

"Winning a championship wouldn't hurt," Kupchak said. "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."

Yeah, what he said.  As long as the Lakers don't implode this season, getting Howard to come back probably won't be too tough.  Even if he and Kobe Bryant don't get along initially, Howard has to know that Bryant will be gone eventually.  He'll love playing with Nash and probably Pau Gasol too.  Dallas will stll try to lure Howard next summer and Atlanta will have the cap space to go after him and Chris Paul both, which will make Kupchak sweat, but as long as Howard loves living in L.A. and at least likes being a Laker, Kupchak shouldn't sweat next summer too much.