Dwight Howard has right around 30 million reasons to want to re-up with the Los Angeles Lakers after the 2012-13 NBA season. After Monday night's loss to the Chicago Bulls, Howard has 24 (and counting) reasons to consider making his venture to Southern California a one-year vacation.
The 30 million figure comes from the fact that Lakers can offer Howard a five-year contract worth right around $118 million this summer. The most any other team can offer is a four-year maximum coming in right around $88 million.
And the 24 number? That's the number of losses Mike D'Antoni's squad has after dropping its record to a paltry 17-24 at the season's halfway mark. With the Lakers and Howard both struggling, it's become a popular worry that the NBA's best center will bolt come July.
The most likely scenario, of course, remains Howard returning to the Lakers. It would be a historical anomaly for a player to eschew an extra year of financial stability—especially for a player at Howard's price. Even Chris Bosh and LeBron James leaving right around $15 million on the table to take their talents to South Beach was somewhat mitigated by Florida's lack of income tax.
But as more losses and inexplicable decisions pile up in Los Angeles, the prospect of Howard leaving has slowly evolved from laughable to at least worthy of discussion. The Lakers are an unmitigated disaster, a team that has satiated every schadenfreudian fan alive who tossed their laptop out a window when Howard was traded to Los Angeles.
If they miss the playoffs, Howard could very easily decide that the rampant criticism and spotlight is too much and walk via free agency. One thing's for certain: He won't lack interested suitors.
With that in mind, let's take a look at a few reasons—both external and internal—why Howard may consider leaving a heaping wad of cash on the table to leave the Lakers this summer.
(All stats are up-to-date as of Jan. 21.)