NBA Free Agency: Dwight Howard’s Possible Decision Day

By Michael Ma

April 5, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard (12) speaks with power forward Pau Gasol (16) during a stoppage in play against the Memphis Grizzlies in the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Friday marks the deadline that Dwight Howard announced that he will make his decision on which team he will sign with.  ESPN has reported that Howard’s current team, the Los Angeles Lakers are planning for the worst.

 “Sources close to the situation stressed that the famously fickle Howard — deliberating at a hideaway in Aspen, Colo. — still was undecided about choosing between the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks and incumbent Lakers. Yet, there were indications late Thursday that Lakers officials, already bracing for the worst, had begun to rethink their long-held position of ruling out sign-and-trade options in the event Howard decides to bolt to one of L.A.’s rivals.

 One source briefed on the Lakers’ thinking told that, if the extra fifth year and nearly $30 million they can offer Howard isn’t enough to hold off the competition, they would be forced to “look at everything.”

While it looks like the Lakers could have fallen to the bottom of Howard’s list, the Golden State Warriors have quietly become a legitimate destination for the free agent center.  The Warriors have salary cap limitations but long time NBA writer and Hall of Famer Peter Vecsey reported that Golden State may have found trade destinations for Andrew Bogut, Richard Jefferson, and Andris Biedrins.

From what I’m told, should Howard decide on GST, & LA is unwilling 2 sign-trade, it has teams willing 2 assume salaries of AB, Biedrins & RJ

— Peter Vecsey (@PeterVecsey1) July 5, 2013

All three players have expiring contracts, and should the Warriors successfully move them, would have enough cap space to sign Howard. The Warriors are a team that Howard is very interested in, but do not have as much cap flexibility as the other teams.

 Rockets Outlook

The Rockets and Mavericks still seem to remain the front-runners, but should the Lakers ultimately decide on pursuing a sign-and-trade with Howard, the Rockets will most likely offer back Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik in return.

The Rockets then would have enough cap space to covet and sign Josh Smith, who is a good friend of Howard’s and someone he has stated he would like to play with.