The Los Angeles Lakers are pulling out all of the stops for free agent center Dwight Howard. Kobe Bryant, whose relationship with Howard last season was at times strained, will reportedly be part of the group of current and former Lakers who will try to convince Dwight to rejoin the franchise. Per ESPN: “Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash will be a part of the Lakers’ pitch to free agent center Dwight Howard on Tuesday, league sources said. The Lakers are still finalizing the roster of people who will be a part of their pitch — several Lakers luminaries have offered — but the two future Hall of Famers will definitely be a part of the delegation that will have the last word with Howard before he makes his decision. […] Bryant went through a very similar process as Howard in 2004, when he entertained the idea of leaving the Lakers as a free agent. In the words of one source, he came ‘very’ close to leaving for the rival Clippers until a face-to-face meeting with Jerry Buss convinced him to stay. The pitch Buss gave to Bryant then is similar to what the franchise will tell Howard now, sources said. Simply, that the Lakers remain committed to winning championships, and will do what’s necessary to give the team a chance to contend every season. ‘Kobe visited with teams and more than one team,’ Kupchak said Thursday, after the NBA draft. ‘We were on pins and needles. The city, we had just gotten beaten [in the Finals], Phil [Jackson] left for the first time and we traded Shaquille. There was a lot of uncertainty on what Kobe would do, a lot of rumor very similar to what’s going on right now. When the phone call came in, we didn’t know which way it would go. I would say it’s very similar.’ […] ‘There was a period where Kobe was earning his stripes in Los Angeles,’ Kupchak said. ‘Here it is, seven, eight or nine years later and I think that’s what would happen with Dwight once he puts his roots down and says ‘This is the place I want to be.’ I think that’s part of the problem. I think the city feels they were renting him for a year. But the reality is he couldn’t sign an extension. Financially, the rules provide that he wait until July 1 to get the best deal he could possibly get. It was one of those situations where please tell us you want to be here and please show us you want to be here. But he can’t do it until July 1. I think that’s part of it. Of course the way the season went didn’t help things either.’”