It was not too long ago that Dwight Howard turned down the thought of playing for the lowly Golden State Warriors. It was also not long ago that Howard received an elbow in the face from Warriors forward David Lee and responded with “I will remember.”
Howard is now reportedly remembering the Warriors’ surprising surge through the first round of the Western Conference playoffs and taking the San Antonio Spurs to six games in the second round.
This is a far cry from the NBA depths Golden State once found itself in, where no high-profile player wanted to test the historically inept franchise. Young and talented players with bright futures, an impressive playoff run and a state-of-the-art arena in the works certainly change all of that.
The Warriors will likely be large players in free agency this offseason, especially since the team does not have a first- or second-round draft pick in the 2013 NBA draft.
While re-signing Carl Landry and/or Jarrett Jack is a large priority, Howard’s sudden respect for Golden State could alter this summer's landscape.
The Warriors are still in search of a reliable big man—since Andrew Bogut’s health is still up in the air—and Howard is arguably the best in the league.
Golden State also has some leniency entering this offseason. The team took the Spurs to the brink in the second round without All-Star David Lee and his nearly $13 million salary. While there are better options than releasing the power forward, Stephen Curry is obviously the focal point of the franchise.
Howard’s recognition of the Warriors is really a milestone in itself for the Warriors.
The team is now considered one of the up-and-coming franchises in the NBA, and with young talent all over the court, it is no wonder high-profile players like Howard will start to consider Oakland or San Francisco a premier place to play.
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