May 23, 2013, 2:47 PM EDT
As the Dwight Howard free agency news cycle rolls on, the latest report has him expanding the list of teams he’ll consider signing with this summer.
It’s been previously reported that Howard is most intrigued by the Houston Rockets, thanks in no small part to a young star already in place there in the form of James Harden. Any situation where Howard won’t be the team’s best player is one he’s likely to consider — not only because it will mean he’s on a team that can contend for a championship, but also because Howard isn’t well-suited from a personality standpoint to handle the pressure of winning all by himself.
Another team that makes sense for Howard to pursue is the Dallas Mavericks, for some of the same reasons. Dirk Nowitzki still has a couple of All-Star caliber seasons left in him, and with the pay cut he’ll be taking in his next contract, the Mavs would have a ton of salary cap space to go out and sign even more top talent for the 2014-15 season and beyond.
Houston and Dallas were obvious choices, given the existing talent and salary cap situations of those respective teams. The latest two that Howard has reportedly expressed interest in, however, seem a little less realistic.
A source familiar with Howard’s thinking says he plans to test free agency and has considered the Lakers, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta and Golden State.
Nothing remains binding, though. The source added Howard’s main concern involves “what team he feels has the best chance to win championships, has the best team and system around him.” The source also stressed Howard has not and will not ask the Lakers to make any moves on his behalf.
Howard is from Atlanta, but it has been a constant from his camp since his last season in Orlando that he wasn’t interested in playing for his hometown team. If that has changed and Howard is now truly considering the Hawks, they certainly have the cap space to make it happen, with less than $20 million on the books for next season if they exercise all options. That includes having Al Horford in place at $12 million per year for the next three seasons.
That would give Atlanta the chance to bring in plenty of additional talent besides Howard, but it’s also a team currently without much of an identity, and one that’s likely to begin next season with a new head coach.
As for the Warriors, that’s simply not going to happen. Golden State has close to $75 million in committed contracts for next season, including the one-year player options from Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins that are likely to be exercised. Things clear up considerably for the Warriors the following year, when the contract of Andrew Bogut comes off the books and the team would have in the neighborhood of just $25 million committed to the strong core of Stephen Curry, David Lee, Klay Thompson, and Harrison Barnes.
It would be tough to see Howard signing somewhere for one year just to wait out the opportunity with the Warriors, although with his track record of indecisiveness throughout this process dating back to his final season in Orlando, anything is possible.
Still, the smart money remains on him staying with the Lakers, with the Rockets and the Mavericks likely not too far behind on his list of potential destinations.
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