Dwight Howard is going to be the biggest name in the upcoming crop of unrestricted free-agent talent, so it’s not surprising that there’s already plenty of buzz and speculation surrounding his impending decision.
The superstar center is having a tumultuous campaign during his first season with the Los Angeles Lakers, leaving the door open for a potential departure this coming summer.
According to Sam Smith of Bulls.com, there are a number of suitors already lining up to woo D12 in the offseason. Among those are the Atlanta Hawks, an organization that would love to pair Howard and Al Horford in the frontcourt while hopefully retaining superstar forward Josh Smith—Howard’s former AAU running mate.
As an extra incentive, Smith is reporting that Howard’s family is pushing the big man to return home after seeing his struggles over the past two years both on the court and in the media.
Howard is a native of Atlanta, Ga. and still has strong family ties in the area. While we don’t foresee the Hawks actually convincing Superman to sign with the organization, they will have more of a leg to stand on than people give them credit for.
Another potential landing destination for Howard is Brooklyn. The Nets have long been infatuated with acquiring the center’s services, including offering Orlando a number of trade packages during his last season with the Magic.
However, when Brook Lopez was granted an extension last summer, it shut the door on most of the cap flexibility the franchise had at the time. The Nets front office would have to make a drastic move to free up the required room to offer D12 the maximum contract he will certainly desire in July.
Regardless, Smith found that this isn’t deterring the team from exploring different options to score the 27-year-old. He did admit they were long shots in the race, though.
One extremely intriguing possibility the insider mentioned was Houston, as the Rockets could make a huge splash this summer
James Harden is a bona fide superstar, Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik possess significant trading value and there are plenty of other movable parts on the roster. Should GM Daryl Morey be able to flip one or two role players to acquire a top-notch supporting cast, Howard may jump at the opportunity.
Houston could win championships with D12 in the lineup, so expect the Rockets brass to go all out in trying to acquire him in free agency.
There’s still months to go before anything serious can start happening, but keep an eye on Howard and the moves that these franchises make in that time period.