For Kobe Bryant, the finish line to his NBA career isn’t close. Motivated by last season’s devastating Achilles injury, Kobe continues to push the idea that he can play three-to-four more years. Dwight Howard wasn’t thrilled with the notion, and his camp reportedly approached the Los Angeles Lakers’ front-office about expediting Kobe’s exit. They weren’t trying to hear any of that, so Howard left for Houston. Per ESPN: “Sources said that Howard and his representatives — in a handful of meetings with Lakers officials before he became a free agent July 1 — strongly suggested the center would have a difficult time re-signing with the team if Bryant stayed with the franchise beyond the 2013-14 season, the final year of his contract. The Lakers, almost from the moment Howard arrived in August 2012, had gone to great lengths to assure the 27-year-old that they saw him as the future face of the franchise and that the torch would be passed from Bryant to him in short order. But with Bryant saying publicly just a week before free agency that he was thinking of playing at least two or three more seasons, it was hard for Howard to envision when he would assume that role, sources said. ‘How can it be Kobe’s team and Dwight’s team?’ one source said. ‘It was about the passing of the torch.’ As an offshoot of those discussions, sources said, Howard’s camp at one point asked the Lakers whether they were at least considering releasing Bryant through the league’s amnesty provision, since Bryant’s return date from Achilles tendon surgery remained in question. [...] But the Lakers, sources said, made it clear the prospect of releasing Bryant or simply trying to lay out a finite timetable on the end of his career with the franchise was not under consideration, believing those decisions should and would be made by Bryant. Bryant made it clear from the first day of training camp this past season that the Lakers were his team, and he saw it as his responsibility to prepare Howard for that responsibility one day. Howard stated that he was anxious to learn from Bryant, Nash and Gasol. Both Howard and Bryant were amenable to that arrangement early, but as the season wore on, it became clear to Howard that there wouldn’t be a clean transfer of power, sources said.”