You're probably already sick of hearing about what Dwight Howard will do this summer, and you'll probably be even sicker of it before "Dwightmare Part 2" comes to a close.
On the surface, Howard's calculus seems simple: sign with the team that gives him the greatest chance to win. As LeBron James' ascent back into the good graces of the public has proven, winning can be (and often is) a panacea for a given player's broken image. Two championships have done plenty to smooth over LeBron's "Decision."
Howard could certainly use some of that medicine himself. He handled his exit from the Orlando Magic about as poorly as anyone could, and followed that up with a forgettably frustrating season with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Hypothetically speaking, winning a title with the Lakers—and following the likes of George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O'Neal in doing so—would elevate Dwight from "merely" a Hall of Fame talent to a member of an exclusive club of immortal big men in basketball lore.
Problem is, the Lakers aren't exactly equipped to contend at the moment, not after the disaster of this past season and certainly not with Kobe Bryant coming off a torn Achilles. The cap space that's slated to come in 2014 is promising, but counting on free agents to save the day can be a dangerous dance.
In the meantime, the Lakers would like to secure the signature of a superstar they feel can be the future of the franchise once Kobe retires, even though such would come at a massive (if temporary) expense to the Buss family.
The Houston Rockets, on the other hand, already sport a promising young core, led by superstar-in-the-making James Harden.
Couple that with the Rockets' array of shooters, Kevin McHale's presence as a tutor on the bench, Daryl Morey's deft hand from the front office, the relative lack of pressure to perform in Houston, and the lack of a state income tax in Texas, and a move to the Space City appears to fit perfectly.
Except, the Lakers can offer Howard a longer, more lucrative deal than the Rockets—or any other suitor, for that matter.
Dwight's savings on income taxes in Houston would be mitigated somewhat by high property taxes and complications involving payment for road games, but I'm hardly a tax professional, so I won't even try to delve into the specifics therein.
Beyond that, a quick exodus from L.A. would probably hinder Dwight's opportunities in Hollywood somewhat while only further degrading his image as someone always seeking greener pastures elsewhere. It's a tricky situation, albeit one that, per ESPN's Marc Stein, many within the league believe will end with Howard in Houston.
Regardless of how many (pathetic) billboards the Lakers decide to post around the city.