Biggest Reasons to Believe Dwight Howard Will Sign with Houston Rockets
But mere days into the process, it's a pretty safe bet to say that Howard will be heading to the Lone Star State.
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tried to make a play for Howard last summer, but with a retooled roster and plenty of cap space at its disposal, Houston is in an even better position this year to land the highly coveted center.
1. Howard Held 1st Formal Meeting with Rockets
It says something that Howard decided to meet with the Houston Rockets mere minutes into the start of the 2013 free-agency period.
Of course, the nine-year veteran did his due diligence and completed all of his interviews/sales pitches eight full days before he plans to make a final decision. By giving the Rockets the chance to make the first presentation, though, it's a clear sign that Houston is one of the early front-runners.
2. Texas Boasts No State Income Tax
While the Lakers can give Dwight Howard an extra year and nearly $30 million more than any other team, the lack of state income tax in Texas nearly evens the scales financially.
Of course, that means the Dallas Mavericks are in the same boat, but when comparing the rosters of the two franchises, Houston is far better equipped than Dallas to be competitive in the long term.
At 35, Dirk Nowitzki doesn't figure to play for much longer. Without him, Dallas figures to struggle for respectability—even if it were able to add Howard this summer.
3. Howard Can Be the Alpha Dog in Houston
No one disputes the fact that the Lakers will be Kobe Bryant's team until the day he decides to walk away from the game. And with Bryant apparently willing to play three or four more seasons, Howard could potentially be on the other side of 30 before he would assume the reins out in L.A.
In Houston, Howard would be the de facto team leader from the moment he signed his new deal. At the very least, he would share the role with James Harden.
Most importantly, that means Howard wouldn't have to defer to anyone on offense—something that he struggled with this past year with the Lakers.
Howard is comfortable as the alpha dog due to his time in Orlando, so embracing that same position with the Rockets should come relatively easy to him.
4. Less Media Pressure Than in Los Angeles
Dwight Howard is the unorthodox type of superstar who isn't entirely comfortable in the spotlight.
While he admitted to ESPN.com that he wanted everyone to love him, he also doesn't appear ready to bear the brunt of the attention—and the scrutiny—that comes with it.
The Houston metropolitan area is about half the size of Los Angeles and its surrounding communities, but the media attention focused on the Rockets is minuscule compared to what the Lakers deal with on a daily basis.
The slower pace of Orlando seemed to fit Howard better than the glitz and glamor of Hollywood, and if the 27-year-old center doesn't want to constantly deal with the paparazzi, Houston is the ideal landing spot.
5. The Rockets Offense Is a Better Fit for His Talents
Mike D'Antoni and Dwight Howard weren't exactly BFFs last season, and it's obvious that the Lakers offense isn't the best fit for Howard's talents.
Conversely, the Rockets' scheme is practically tailor-made to Howard's abilities: Houston all but eschews mid-range jumpers in lieu of three-pointers and shots taken at the rim.
According to Basketball-Reference.com, nearly 95 percent of Howard's field-goal attempts this past season came from within 10 feet of the basket. With the Rockets' cadre of three-point shooters stretching the floor, Howard has the potential to dominate in the low post.