And then there were three…
The Atlanta Hawks really never stood a chance to get Dwight Howard in free agency (he was only going home if Chris Paul went with him, and that chance died).
Dallas’ pitch was to win for a year or two next two Dirk Nowitzki then they had the space to rebuild the team around Howard. Apparently that didn’t fly.
That leaves three teams in the race.
Houston is known to be the frontrunner, pitching that Howard and James Harden from the inside/outside combination of a contender that can be surrounded by quality role players who get the job done. They have good role players around such as Chandler Parsons and cap flexibility to add more parts.
The Lakers, where Howard played last season, can offer the most money with larger raises and an extra guaranteed year. Plus, they offer the winning tradition of the Lakers and their desire to make Howard a centerpiece of that going forward. Finally, they offer the off-the-court endorsement and media opportunities the other cities cannot. The question is if Howard believes he can win there. The Lakers do not seem sold he is staying.
Then there is Golden State, which becomes a more complicated deal after their recent move to offer Andre Iguodala four years, $48 million, and trade out Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins (plus cut loose Jarrett Jack and others). The Warriors may still be able to do a sign-and-trade with the Lakers around Andrew Bogut, Harrison Barnes and some other pieces. That would be a hard sell to the Lakers. To make that work Howard would have to keep Houston in the mix as leverage (“I’m going to Houston and you get nothing unless you do a sign-and-trade with Golden State”).