Dwight Howard has been known for his dramatic antics over the years, especially with the way he forced himself out of Orlando last year. Just this week, a story was reported that Howard informed Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak that he was unhappy with the way head coach Mike D’Antoni diminished his role and voice in the locker room. With a disappointing season in Los Angeles behind him, he now prepares to hit the market as an unrestricted free agent, where many teams will be vying for his services for the next four years (or five if he chooses the Lakers). Realistically, there are five options for Dwight Howard this summer
1) Los Angeles Lakers
The plus side of staying with the Lakers is the fifth year and a little more money. However, when you look at the current Lakers roster and the age of their core next year of Kobe Bryant (35 and coming off of a torn achilles), Steve Nash (39) and Pau Gasol (33), it’s hard to imagine this team being relevant for much longer. Add on top of that the fact that they won’t have any money to spend for the next few seasons, and the future for Dwight Howard in Los Angeles doesn’t look so great. Yes, the appeal of living in “Hollywood” and playing in front of the stars is one that is appealing for Howard, but if he wants to win a championship, his best chance will be outside of Los Angeles.
2) Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavaliers are a very interesting option, and will likely fly under the radar. With a great young core of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and whoever they select in this year’s draft, Howard could be the missing piece to help make Cleveland a force in the Eastern Conference once again. If the Cavaliers realize that there’s no chance LeBron James will return in 2014, they’d be smart to go after Howard this summer and try to add him to the mix. It’s unlikely Dwight would want to go to Cleveland, but maybe a conversation with LeBron James could help sway his opinion, because it could be the best option to choose from this summer.
3) Houston Rockets
Last year, the Rockets took huge strides when they signed Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik during the summer, and traded for All-Star James Harden just before the season began. Houston forced a Game 6 against the Thunder in the first round after trailing 3-0 in the series, and are showing great promise for the future. With money to spend this summer, the Rockets will absolutely be trying to pull in Dwight Howard to help make this team one of the best in the West. Adding Howard to a lineup with Lin, Harden, Chandler Parsons and Asik could be scary for opposing teams on both sides of the floor.
4) Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks missed the playoffs this year for the first time in a decade, but Mark Cuban has money to spend and wants to spend it on Dwight Howard. While I think it’s very unlikely Howard winds up in Dallas, mainly because of their aging roster (even older than the Lakers), Mark Cuban can be very persuasive and will definitely give Dwight a great pitch to become a Maverick.
5) Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks are only on here because it would be a homecoming for Dwight Howard. If Josh Smith were to re-sign with the Hawks below market value, he might be able to bring Dwight to Atlanta to re-unite the former AAU teammates. This is the least likely of the five options here, even though the Hawks have a lot of money to spend this summer.
Most people believe that Dwight Howard will stay put in Los Angeles with the Lakers, but his best opportunity to win now and for years to come would be in Houston or Cleveland. Now, we all sit and wait until July 1st, when all hell will likely break loose in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes.