Despite Dwight Howard’s intention to hear from multiple suitors this summer, and the possibility that he’ll sign with another team, Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak continues to insist that he believes the free agent big man will be back in Purple and Gold next season. Per the team website: “You were ‘hopeful’ and ‘optimistic’ during exit interviews on April 30 about Dwight Howard returning in part because of the unique opportunity of playing for the Lakers and everything that encompasses especially for a franchise-type player. What’s your feeling more than a month later? Kupchak: ‘No different from what I said at the end of the season. We have a dialogue, and we do talk, but we’re not allowed to negotiate until July 1. We talk about when he’s getting in the gym and what he’s doing, how his back is feeling and things like that. From the conclusion of the season to July 1 is two months, so it’s important to work on your body and your game in that time.’ Once free agency hits, it’s been reported that Howard will visit some other teams. How do the Lakers go about that free agency process with him? Kupchak: \Dwight has earned the right to become a free agent, and he probably will be recruited and perhaps make a couple of visits. That being the case, I would hope that we’d have a chance also before he makes his decision.’ And that would be your opportunity to sit down again, go over your plan and make your case as to why he should stay? Kupchak: ‘Absolutely.’ What would you want to convey to him? Kupchak: ‘We would try to do what the other teams will do, which is convince him that this is the spot for him. I think we have an advantage in that he’s played here for a year. I’m biased – I think this is the best city to live in with the best fans in the NBA. There are certain things that you remind him of or talk to him about, and you hope that it plays in your favor.’”