According to ESPN.com, last night’s final pitches were made to free agent big man Dwight Howard in attempts to woo him to their respective teams. In the running for the services of the often petulant seven-footer are Dallas, Houston, Golden State, Atlanta and of course the Los Angeles Lakers with whom he played last season.
I have thoughts on where Howard should go but that place isn’t on this particular list…. The Lakers have the inside track because they are the only ones who can offer the five-year $118 million contract. The others can only go as high as four years and $88 million. With the teams doing everything humanly possible to bring Howard to town, I’m breaking down his ultimate destination and why.
Dallas Mavericks – Why he goes to Big D… Although he’s getting long in the tooth, future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki would give Howard a fellow seven-footer with an entirely different skill set to play with in Dallas. Howard often suffered in LA because of little room to operate with Pau Gasol in the paint with him and inconsistent outside shooting. Throw in the fact that Mark Cuban is one of the best owners in pro sports to play for. Why he doesn’t go to Big D… Simple, the Mavs have tons of cap space but not quite enough to give Howard the max offer. Plus the Mavericks are old with Nowitzki and five other guys over 10 years experience.
Atlanta Hawks – Why he goes Hot-lanta… This is Howard’s hometown and the dream of any big-time athlete is to be able to go home again and bring a championship as well. The Hawks will also have plenty of cap space with so many guys, including potentially Josh Smith, signing elsewhere. Why he doesn’t go to Hot-lanta… With little else but Al Horford around him and the Miami Heat in the same division, this is a long-shot at best.
Golden State Warriors – Why he goes to NoCal… The Warriors burst onto the playoff scene this season behind the shooting of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson and the inside presence of David Lee. With all three back, that’s an exciting opportunity for Howard to jump into. Why he doesn’t go to NoCal… Curry will be a free agent after next year and will demand huge money on the open market. He has to be a major reason why Howard would go there in the first place and the chance that he leaves after a year diminishes the chances of Howard to Golden State.
Houston Rockets – Why he goes to H-Town…While LA is the favorite, Houston is a close second because Jeremy Lin, James Harden and Luis Scola will be there for awhile with Howard. They would be an excellent supporting cast and the city loves it’s big men. Why he doesn’t go to H-Town… While Houston is one of the fastest growing cities in America, it lacks the ability of an LA to get Howard big-time endorsements. At this point in his career, Howard needs maximum exposure.
Los Angeles Lakers – Why he goes back to La-La Land… C’mon, this is the Lakers we are talking about here. Tradition, history, huge fan base and oh yeah, the $118 million. Howard returning means he plays with Gasol and Kobe Bryant again while they sprinkle in some potentially new role players around them. Why he doesn’t go back to La-La Land… The biggest reason has to be Head Coach Mike D’Antoni. His system does little for Howard’s game. Even with Kobe returning from surgery, he is still the face of the Lakers and will be until he retires. Does that sit well with Howard? I don’t think so.
Where does he go? Each team pulled out the stops to entice Howard but the Lakers have those $30 million in extra dollars to offer him and that’s the clincher. LA also offers him the best chance to win a title and hey, when Jack Nicholson calls, you do as he says.