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Warriors are reportedly trying to dump contracts to create enough cap space to sign Dwight Howard

Jul 4, 2013, 7:37 PM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers Dwight Howard reaches for a rebound next to Golden State Warriors Festus Ezeli during their NBA basketball game in Oakland

When the report surfaced that the Golden State Warriors had made “a real impression” on Dwight Howard during their free agent meeting with the prized big man earlier this week, and had a legitimate chance of landing him, it honestly seemed laughable at best.

The reason, of course, was that given the Warriors’ salary cap situation, there’s no way they’d be able to sign Howard to a max contract without the Lakers helping them by engaging in a sign-and-trade deal, which seemed unlikely given L.A.’s preference to sign Howard themselves.

The Warriors, clearly encouraged by their meeting with Howard and whatever information they’ve received since about his leanings, aren’t waiting around for the Lakers to help them in their quest. The team has already begun the process of trying to unload contracts to create enough salary cap space to sign Howard outright, should he ultimately decide that playing in the Bay area is where his future lies.

From Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein of ESPN.com:

The Golden State Warriors, increasingly convinced they have a legitimate shot at winning the Dwight Howard sweepstakes, have begun aggressively attempting to trade away players to clear the requisite salary-cap space to sign the All-Star center, according to sources with knowledge of the team’s thinking.

… sources say that the Warriors, in an effort to manufacture some financial flexibility to help their chances, have begun calling teams with salary-cap space to try to entice them to take expiring contracts off their books so they can clear a $20 million hole for Howard.

Such a scenario would be challenging, some executives have said, but not impossible. The Warriors have three huge expiring contracts in Andrew Bogut ($14 million), Richard Jefferson ($11 million) and Andris Biedrins ($9 million). According to sources, they have tried to offload all three players this week to cap-room teams.

It would be a longshot to see the Warriors unload three different contracts like that without taking salary back, but as the report says, it isn’t impossible.

What this speaks to more than anything is the fact that the Lakers are not going to do anything to facilitate Howard leaving them to play somewhere else. As has been reported over and over, L.A. would rather let Howard walk than help him get to another team of his choosing, especially one in the same division or even in the Western Conference.

The Warriors, meanwhile, would likely have to include some assets in order for teams to take these expiring deals off of their hands. Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson are the names that have come up in mythical sign-and-trade scenarios with the Lakers, and one or both of those players would likely need to be sent out of town in order for Golden State to be able to convince another team to help them pave the way for Howard’s arrival.

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