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Kupchak's message to Dwight Howard: 'We care about you and we want you to stay'

In words and deeds, the Los Angeles Lakers are making it clear how they feel about Dwight Howard.

The Lakers took the unusual step earlier this week of putting up billboards around the LA area with a photo of the center and the word "Stay." General manager Mitch Kupchak also addressed his feelings late Thursday night after the NBA draft.

Said Kupchak: "The message is simple: we care about you and we want you to stay."

Howard's impending free agency has been prominent in the Lakers' minds since their season ended in a first-round playoff sweep.

Howard, a seven-time All-Star, has vowed to make his decision in his own best interests, giving no indication he favored the Lakers over any other team. The free agency period begins at 9:01 p.m. PDT Sunday.