Kobe Bryant has been discussing playing for a few more years with the Lakers, and that timetable was a factor in Dwight Howard’s decision to sign with the Rockets. Howard’s rift with Mike D’Antoniis well-known, and the big man also requested that D’Antoni be fired. Ric Bucher reports that the big man’s requests to fire Mike D’Antoni and amnesty Kobe Bryant were simply too much for the Lakers: “Talks with various people close to the situation make it clear there were two prerequisites for Dwight Howard to remain a Laker: fire Mike D’Antoni and amnesty, or at the very least muzzle, Kobe Bryant. As audacious as that might sound, it doesn’t come without precedent in Lakers’ history. When Kobe re-upped in 2004, it coincided with Shaq being shipped to Miami and Phil Jackson being let go. Of course, Kobe didn’t have to pressure the team braintrust — Mitch Kupchak and Jerry and Jim Buss — to make those moves, since Dr. Buss, in particular, was done with both Shaq and Phil at the time. The Lakers apparently asked Dwight to be patient on both fronts for at least another season, telling him ‘hey, you’re going to have to gut this out another year,’ a source said, although it sounds as if VP of basketball ops Jim Buss isn’t ready to abandon Kobe anytime soon. ‘Dwight didn’t want to play with Kobe for 2-3 more years,’ Buss said. ‘I’m going to stand behind Kobe because of his history with the franchise.’ It would seem, then, with all that happened, the Lakers had the wherewithal to keep Howard if they had desired; they simply found the price too high.”