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Matt Barnes in contact with Dwight Howard on playing future

December 11, 2011 |  1:18 pm

The courtship for Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard goes beyond the Lakers' front office, the New Jersey Nets or a late-night phone call from Orlando's former chairman.

It also remains at the grass-roots level, as Lakers forward Matt Barnes acknowledged at the Lakers' media day Sunday that he spoke to Howard last week about his playing future. Barnes, who played for the Magic during the 2009-10 season, still keeps in touch with Howard, and made it clear last week that Howard's told him he wants to play for the Lakers. But Barnes said at the Lakers' media day Sunday that he tempered his aggressiveness in convincing Howard to wear the purple & gold.

"He has a tough decision to make," Barnes said of Howard, who reportedly has demanded a trade to the New Jersey Nets. "There’s teams pulling at him every way. We have real talks more than anything about being a Laker. He has to do what's best for him and his family and what makes him happy."

Of course, what would make Barnes happy would involve Howard wearing a Laker uniform, especially with the uncertainty surrounding the team trading Lamar Odom to the Dallas Mavericks for an $8.9-million trade exception without any clear intentions on the end goal. It remains unclear, however, whether the Lakers truly have enough to entice the Magic to trade Howard.

But for now, Barnes said he'll temper his pitches just so he doesn't come across as too overbearing. 

"He knows the opportunity he has here," Barnes said. "But with that said, it's not about what we want or the Lakers want or what I want. It's about what's best for him and his family." 


Kobe Bryant on Lamar Odom trade: "I don't like it."

Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard would mesh well together

Who would you be willing to give up to get Dwight Howard?

— Mark Medina

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