Dwight Howard

Bringing back free agent center Dwight Howard is the Lakers’ top priority this off-season.

“Dwight is in the category of the great of the great,” Kupchak said. “He’s over his back injury and there’s no reason he can’t play seven, eight more years at that position. There’s no doubt in my mind if he does, he’s in the Hall of Fame. Those players are just hard to come by.”

Howard struggled through the first half of the season as he tried to return early from back surgery.

“I don’t think he got as much credit for the season as he should have gotten,” Kupchak said.  ”Big men are different. They can’t bring the ball up the court. They really rely on their teammates to make them look good.”

The Lakers can sign Howard for a $118-million, five-year deal in July — if he chooses to stay. Other teams can offer just four years (up to $88 million), but tax advantages in Texas (Houston, Dallas or San Antonio) would help offset some of the lost wages.

Reported by Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times