I am really hoping that this summer can be a Dwight Howard drama-free offseason. While he is going to be the most coveted free agent, we could be in for a long, waiting game for Howard to make his ultimate decision.
According to ESPN, Howard was one of several players who had an extended separate meeting with GM Mitch Kupchak after his exit interview with the team. The conversation was centered on his frustrations with head coach Mike D’Antoni, as Howard has said that he felt marginalized and misused, specifically in regards to D’Antoni favoring to Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash for leadership and suggestions throughout the season, and discounting Howard.
This comes after Kupchak stated that he was “hopeful” and “optimistic” that Howard would be back with the Lakers for next season and beyond, but there have been several developments that could impact his decision.
The Lakers have announced that D’Antoni will not retain assistant coach Chuck Person, who the Lakers brought in this season to be Howard’s confidant. Also, assistant coach Steve Clifford, who was with Howard for five seasons in Orlando, has become a head coaching candidate for the Milwaukee Bucks and Charlotte Bobcats. Howard has the closest relationship with the two assistants.
This could dramatically impact Howard’s choice, and make signing with the Houston Rockets a more likely scenario. The Rockets are considered a top choice for the perennial all-star according to multiple reports.
There are a number of reasons why Houston is a top choice for Howard, most notably the fact that there are no state income taxes in Texas, the Rockets’ young core led by James Harden, and his relationship with Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon from working out with him two summers ago.