Lakers remove Howard banner

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Lakers will have to wait to find out whether Dwight Howard will stay with the team, but they didn't waste any time removing a banner outside Staples Center asking him to do so.

One week after the team unveiled a massive banner on the side of Staples Center with a photo of Howard alongside "STAY." and the hashtag #STAYD12, the banner was removed.

Staples Center officials said the plan all along was to remove the banner after Tuesday night's Los Angeles Sparks-Minnesota Lynx WNBA game. A crew began removing the banner around midnight, and it was completely gone by early Wednesday morning.

The Lakers also put up six billboards around the city, including one in Hollywood, and had some mobile billboards as well. The mobile billboards have been discontinued, and the various billboards around town will be coming down soon as well.

A team source said there were different schedules for the various billboard locations. Some went up sooner than others, meaning some will come down sooner than others, but the sole intent was to make an impact just before and just after the start of the free-agency period.

The motivation behind the Staples Center banner, according to a team source, was to take advantage of its exposure during last week's BET Awards, which were held at the Nokia Theatre, across the street from Staples Center.

Howard met with the Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday after meeting with the Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks on Sunday and Monday.

Howard is expected to decide which team he will sign with by Friday.