The Lakers will again have the NBA’s highest payroll in the coming season, paying $27.8 million to Bryant, $19.5 million to Howard and $19 million to Gasol alone. They will endure the luxury-tax penalties until the summer of 2014, when Bryant and Gasol come off the books and the club plans to get under the luxury-tax plateau just when the NBA’s new repeater penalties would kick in.

Howard, 26, is aware of the hopes for championships until then.

“Everybody’s going to expect a lot out of us,” he said. “I know for myself, I’m going to give you 100 percent. I’m going to have fun. I’m going to smile. I’m going to dunk.”

Howard, who had missed just seven games in his first seven NBA seasons, professed renewed love for the game after April 20 surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back.

“I’ve grown a lot in these four months,” he said.

– Reported by Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register