Dwight Howard Rumors: Latest on D12's Free-Agency Decision
Dwightmare 2.0 is well under way, with wine-and-dine meetings soon to give way to what figure to be days (if not weeks) of deliberation for Dwight Howard.
He met with the Houston Rockets at the opening of NBA free agency on Sunday night, spent time with the Golden State Warriors and the Atlanta Hawks on Monday, and sat down with the Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.
Here's the latest from the ongoing courtship of basketball's most eligible bachelor.
Here's a copy of Kupchak's official statement from Lakers.com:
We have been informed of Dwight's decision to not return to the Lakers. Naturally we're disappointed. However, we will now move forward in a different direction with the future of the franchise and, as always, will do our best to build the best team possible, one our great lakers fans will be proud to support. To Dwight, we thank him for his time and consideration, and for his efforts with us last season. We wish him the best of luck on the remainder of his NBA career.
But in the end, there was a lot of smoke without any fire. Howard informed the Lakers that he wouldn't be back for a second season.
In a strange twist, Howard's planned meeting with the Lakers was something of a surprise to the team.
In fact, what seemed like a sure thing had suddenly become a coin flip again.
After sources throughout the league reported that Howard had agreed to sign with the Rockets, it seemed as though things had finally calmed down.
That didn't last long.
After a flurry of moves by the Golden State Warriors, it appeared as though there was a real question about where D12 would end up, but in the end, Howard opted for Houston.
Because nothing with Howard is ever simple, reports from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! and Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld.com confused matters by indicating that Howard had not made his final decision yet.
According to Peter Vecsey of the New York Post, the Golden State Warriors are prepared to either complete a sign-and-trade with the Lakers for Howard, or offload the contracts of Andrew Bogut, Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins so they'll have enough money to sign him outright.
Vecsey reports that the Warriors already have takers lined up for those contracts if the Lakers don't cooperate in a sign-and-trade.
Everything still depends on whether or not Howard wants to play in Golden State, but the Warriors have certainly dominated the July 4 news cycle. That could be an indicator that they're close to pulling something off.
According to Mark Heisler, the Golden State Warriors would be willing to trade Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut and a future No. 1 pick for Howard.
Golden State would certainly hate to lose one of its young stars—not to mention a first-round pick—but the team's ownership is clearly serious about swinging for the fences.
According to Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst of ESPN, the Warriors are getting serious about clearing enough cap space to sign Howard outright.
Such a move would be extremely difficult to pull off without also shipping out a young player (like Klay Thompson or Harrison Barnes) as a sweetener, but it appears that the Dubs are looking to expand their options beyond acquiring Howard via an unlikely sign-and-trade deal with the Lakers.
A source reportedly told ESPN's Chris Broussard that Kobe Bryant's "I can teach you how to win" sales pitch isn't going to sit well with Howard.
Unless Kobe made his point while wagging his finger in Howard's direction like a mother scolding her child, not sure this will factor into the decision-making process all that much.
Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld reports that Howard may not make his decision by Friday, July 5. It may, in fact, be a "few days" before he chooses which team he will sign with.
And the Dwightmare lives on.
Marcus Thompson of the Contra Costa Times reports that in the Warriors' meeting with Howard, Mark Jackson was particularly impressive. More importantly, Thompson says that part of the pitch to Howard was that he'd get to play with Harrison Barnes, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry.
Until now, just about everyone assumed that either Barnes or Thompson would have to be part of any sign-and-trade deal with the Lakers. But Thompson suspects that because the Lakers have no leverage, Howard could simply threaten to sign with another team if the Lakers don't orchestrate a sign-and-trade agreement that the Warriors (and he) can approve of.
Now that Dwight Howard's done being wooed, he'll take the next couple days to huddle over his decision away from the limelight in Colorado (per Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld):
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter—who must be bored in the midst of the doldrums of the NFL offseason—Howard hopes to have his choice made by Friday (via NBA on ESPN):
First surprise of week on Dwight front: Sources say Golden State made real impression on Howard in their meeting and have become a factor— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 3, 2013
Not that it'll be an easy one to make, or that we should expect someone as notoriously indecisive as is Howard to make it by then. ESPN's Marc Stein reports that Dwight was impressed by the Golden State Warriors' pitch:
Rockets/Mavs clearly still have better shot to steal Dwight from Lakers than Warriors. But Dubs, I'm told, have forced way into conversation— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 3, 2013
Nonetheless, the Houston Rockets, the Dallas Mavericks, and the Los Angeles Lakers remain the frontrunners:
Lakers still insisting NO to all sign-and-trades. HARD for GSW even if Lakers willing. But Warriors clearly didn't visit D12 just for show— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 3, 2013
The Warriors would need to swing a sign-and-trade for Dwight, and the Lakers have already made it clear that they're not willing to facilitate such a swap:
Which the Dubs probably wouldn't, lest they injure their own ability to convince Dwight to join them.
And of course, because the salary cap is a huge joke, the Houston Rockets are now reported to be looking for a way to add both Josh Smith and Dwight Howard to their organization.
That's not insane or anything.
Additionally, Nash, Kobe and Howard did what they could to hash out the problems of last season's team in a separate meeting.
Nash, D'Antoni and Bryant met separately with Howard and had an "honest" conversation about many of the issues the Lakers dealt w/ in 2013— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) July 3, 2013
Sorry Pau, it seems your insight isn't needed.
There are few more tidbits about Los Angeles' pitch to throw in here.
Los Angeles, surprisingly, wasn't going for the frills that other teams went for, focusing instead on the present and future:
The Lakers' presentation did not include any team legends. LAL chose "focusing on the present and the future," said a source— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) July 3, 2013
Of course the Lakers also brought up the possibility of additional exposure through television and beyond.
Besides Nash and Kobe talking titles, Lakers accented TV exposure (@TWCSportsNet rep) and endorsement potential (AEG) if Dwight stays.— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) July 3, 2013
But they didn't happen to bring up the billboards all over the city.
For all the notice Lakers' Kupchak-driven "STAY" campaign has garnered, it didn't even come up in their two-hour meeting with Dwight.— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) July 3, 2013
The only news coming from the Dwight camp about any team is the same thing any team has said about their meetings with Howard. Everything is "good."
"Thought the Lakers were good," said a source close to Howard familiar with the meeting. Team Dwight staying tight lipped.— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) July 3, 2013
As for the decision, you might as well throw darts at a calendar to figure out when that'll happen, although Howard seems much more aware of the situation this time around.
With that said, Dwight Howard understands that his free agency has dominated headlines for far too long, so he won't drag it out too much.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) July 3, 2013
Just sit and wait, folks.
Dwight Howard is leaving California for a few days to mull his free agency choice, league sources tell Y! Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 2, 2013
This comes across as extremely The Incredible Hulk-ish, at least the television version. Dwight arrives in a new city, hoping to do some good, but only ends up destroying the town in a fit of rage before being forced to walk on down the road.
Actually, that would be a terrific idea. Somebody remake The Incredible Hulk as a television series starring Dwight Howard.
Kupchak made his official statement shortly following the meeting:
Jim Buss, Mike D’Antoni, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Tim Harris and I, along with representatives from our partners at Time Warner Cable SportsNet and AEG, met this afternoon for approximately two hours with Dwight Howard and his representatives Dan Fegan and Happy Walters. At the meeting, we told him how important he is to the Lakers team, franchise, fans and community, and why we feel this is the best place for him to continue his career. We are hopeful that Dwight decides to remain a Laker.
Predictable stuff, really.
And Kobe Bryant took the same route as Kupchak:
Source on Kobe Bryant's message to Dwight Howard in Lakers meeting: "Straight forward. He talked about winning mostly."— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 2, 2013
It almost seems as if the Lakers were trying to convince Howard that they knew he would be making a mistake should he leave.
Kupchak's pitch to Howard was very straightforward, and almost boring in how predictable it was.
Kupchak: "We told [Howard] how important he is to the Lakers...and why we feel this is the best place for him to continue his career."— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) July 2, 2013
Still, it seems like something that would get the point across.
A few more quotes following Howard's meeting with the Lakers. From D'Antoni: "You do what you got to do. Dwight will make his decision. Hopefully it’s the Lakers."
And Howard: "I had a lot of great meetings."
Insightful stuff, I know.
Apparently Howard's shoulder and back were indeed concerns for the Mavericks, who brought their trainer along to the meeting.
Trainer Casey Smith's presence at Dwight pitch shows how Mavs view him as recruiting asset. Helped revitalize Tyson Chandler's career.— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) July 2, 2013
Money likely won't be as big a deal in Howard's decision as it seems, especially when he's deciding between playing in California, the state with the highest income tax rates in the nation, and Texas, state with no income tax.
According to ESPN's Darren Rovell:
If Howard elects to live in California and play with the Lakers, he will gross $30.4 million more versus taking a free-agent offer in Houston or Dallas, but will net only $9.3 million more if he plays for the Lakers and is a California resident.
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