When we last saw Dwight Howard, he may or may not have been letting Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak have it after DH was booted from the Lakers final game of the season. (Followed by Magic Johnson going off on Dwight on Twitter)
Now we have some news/rumors/reports of what Dwight Howard may be thinking as he eyes free agency this summer, and it looks like the Houston Rockets are at the top of his list.
Though Howard is adamant his free agency not be marred by the circus-like environment that surrounded his departure from Orlando last summer, word already has spread to multiple levels of his support staff that Howard re-signing with the Lakers is far from a done deal.
With six weeks to go before Howard becomes an unrestricted free agent, the team that is said to intrigue him the most is the Houston Rockets, according to multiple people briefed on internal conversations surrounding Howard’s free-agent decision. The Rockets have a young star, James Harden, who has proved himself worthy of playing the leading role for the franchise; a budding 3-point shooting threat in Chandler Parsons; a defensive-minded coach in Kevin McHale; and Omer Asik, the kind of 7-footer Howard is believed to want next to him in the frontcourt.
The Rockets are a couple of minor moves away from having room to sign Howard; they have a team option on Francisco Garcia’s $6.4 million and Carlos Delfino’s $3 million is fully non-guaranteed, for example. If they chose to or needed to make a trade to create room, they have numerous attractive young players on tradable contracts, such as 2012 No. 5 pick Thomas Robinson. Such assets could be moved to a team or teams under the cap to create room or packaged in a possible sign-and-trade with LA — if the Lakers became convinced Howard would leave and they’d receive nothing in return.
The Mavericks represent another franchise that intrigues Howard, and Dallas is a minor transaction or two away from having enough room to sign Howard outright as an unrestricted free agent. Howard plans to explore all such options, and a person briefed on his plans told CBSSports.com that there are “several” teams the free-agent center is “going to take a hard look at.”
At the end of the day, despite all of the nonsense of the past season, the Lakers still (on paper) hold the upper hand. Via the 2011 collective bargaining agreement, L.A. can sign him to a deal for more year and more money than any other team in the League (Note: The CBS article does point out that by signing with one of those Texas-based team, he wouldn’t have to pay any state income tax – a potential $10 million savings for howard).
That Houston setup would be intriguing, wouldn’t? Harden, Lin, Asik, Parsons, Howard and Daryl Morey’s other role players? Not a bad look.
Can you see Dwight leaving L.A. for Houston?
Follow Dime Magazine on Twitter
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook