Tag: Dwight Howard free agent

San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Three

Report: Dwight Howard to talk to other teams besides Lakers this summer


The Lakers knew this when they traded for Dwight Howard last summer — under the terms of the new CBA it makes financial sense for a max player to play out his current deal and become a free agent then re-sign with the same team than it does to sign an extension to a deal and never hit the open market. Said player can get one more guaranteed year and larger raises if he becomes a free agent and re-signs than if he signs an extension.

But that means players have to become free agents for a stretch and other teams can approach them.

Howard will become a free agent this summer and is going to talk to other teams besides the Lakers, reports Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

According to several sources familiar with Howard’s thinking, Howard will likely explore free agency before reaching his final decision. In today’s media landscape, that means there will be a circus in July while Howard hears pitches from the likes of the Dallas Mavericks and Cleveland Cavaliers.

I’d throw the Houston Rockets in that mix, as well. Atlanta will want to be in the mix but word out of Howard’s camp consistently has been he doesn’t want to go back home. Of course, the Lakers will call him at midnight July 1 with a max offer as well.

Let’s talk money first, because it’s always about the money.

Howard is a lock for a max deal. The difference in money is the Lakers can offer an expected five years, $118 million, other teams coming in could offer four years, $87.6 million. (Those numbers could move a little once the new salary cap levels are set for next season, but said cap is expected to be in the $60 million range). That’s about a $30 million difference, for those of you scoring at home. You can say for a player who has made more than $100 million in his career (and likely will get one more max deal after this one) that the money isn’t the biggest issue, but would you leave $30 million guaranteed on the table? In a year after you felt your basketball mortality after struggling to return from back surgery?

Now the big question: Would Dwight Howard leave the Lakers?

I doubt it. Clearly his first year in Los Angeles didn’t go as smoothly as he hoped — he rushed back from back surgery and didn’t play up to his standards, and he heard about it from the demanding Lakers fan base. He and Kobe Bryant had to adjust to each other, the Lakers switched coaches this season, Howard fought through a torn labrum, injuries ravaged the team, and the Lakers will be bounced from the NBA playoffs in the first round, likely on Sunday.

You can look at all that, say Howard didn’t have fun and that he could go to Houston with James Harden or Dallas with Dirk Nowitzki or Cleveland with Kyrie Irving and win. And maybe be happier. For Howard basketball has to be fun for him to play his best and he might think he will have more fun in another market with another star.

Here is why I think he doesn’t leave — image.

Howard is still trying to rehabilitate a public image that took a hit after the ugly way he left Orlando. To move again away from one of the NBA’s premiere franchises to go to a lesser light will not help that — he’s be painted as the guy who could not fill the shoes of Miken, Wilt, Kareem and Shaq. Go to Dallas or Houston and you go from a place where the Lakers are kings of the market to a place where football is king and basketball gets a lesser spotlight. Leave and his reputation as indecisive continues.

Winning is how Howard fixes that image. Howard knows the Lakers would have everybody but himself and Steve Nash off the books in the summer of 2014 — they can reshape the roster to win with him as the focus. The Lakers have said they want him to take the reins of the franchise from Kobe Bryant in the coming years (ideally Kobe would cede a little of that power next season to a healthy Howard). Most of all, you know the Lakers can draw free agents and spend in a way few other teams can to win. He’s not leaving to go somewhere else and have a better chance at a ring.

But we all want to be wanted. So Howard is going to flirt with other teams besides the Lakers this summer.

Magic fans launch StayDwight.com

Orlando Magic v Phoenix Suns

And the campaign has begun.

Well, really the campaign to keep Dwight Howard with the Orlando Magic began when Otis Smith made sweeping changes looking to upgrade the Magic roster this season by bringing in Hedo Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas.

Seeing how well that worked, some Magic fans have launched a Web Site — StayDwight.com — to serve as a community bulletin board where fans can express their undying love for Howard. There will be a message board, fan video spaces and more. And you can bet the new site will get busy after the playoffs. And after the lockout.

Howard has a lot to weigh in any decision about an extension and staying in Orlando. (He can opt out in the summer of 2012, which means if he doesn’t sign an extension Orlando would be in the place this season Denver was last season.)

Part of it is that things in Orlando are pretty good — this is a 52-win roster that went to the NBA finals a couple years ago. They have a new building which means revenue should be good for the franchise, meaning it can go after players. There’s no state tax. There’s Mickey Mouse. There is warm weather. There is the chance that staying and retooling in Orlando is a better path to a ring than leaving.

Or, he could try to leave because almost anywhere he lands that team becomes an instant threat. There is the Arenas contract and other things that make it look like what you see now is what you get with the Magic for a few years.

And the new Collective Bargaining Agreement could render this entire discussion moot. Who knows what restrictions on player movement will exist (hello franchise tag!) or incentives there will be for players to stay put.

Lots of things for Howard to weigh. And the love of Orlando fans seen on StayDwight.com is part of that.