Report: As expected, Dwight Howard opts out of $23.1 million with Houston, is free agent

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Almost everyone around the NBA expected Dwight Howard to opt out of his contract with Houston — then when the Rockets hired Mike D’Antoni as their new head coach it became a mortal lock.

It was just a matter of time. Now it’s happened reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Howard averaged 13.7 points a game on only 8.5 shot attempts per game (the fewest since his rookie season) and added 11.8 rebounds a night. He played good defense, although not at the pre back surgery levels.

Howard wants a max contract, which will start at $30.8 million for him (with the projected salary cap of $94 million).

At least half the people reading that last sentence shook their heads and said, “no way.” But I bet he gets it, or something close. What concerns more some teams more than the money is the years — he has a history of back problems and is now on the wrong side of 30. He’s been playing through pain for years (and some years missing a lot of games). I can’t see any GM locking him in for four guaranteed years, one that goes three likely can land him (with a team option for the last year). Plenty of teams likely steer clear of him entirely once July 1 opens. Dallas is among the teams reportedly interested in Howard.