NBA Trade Rumors: Latest on Warriors' Pursuit of Dwight Howard

Ethan GrantAnalyst IJuly 5, 2013

December 22, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard (12) reaches for a rebound during the first quarter against the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena. The Lakers defeated the Warriors 118-115 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Dwight "conflicting reports" Howard appears close to picking a franchise to suit up for during the 2013-14 season. 

The star center has held the free-agent market captive since things opened up at 12:01 a.m. ET on Monday, meeting with the Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers about joining—or re-joining—their franchise. 

Don't look now, but it appears the Warriors are heavy in the conversation to woo the 27-year-old to the Bay Area. 

Per this tweet from Janis Carr of the Orange County Register, the world will know Howard's decision some time over the weekend:

If Golden State comes out of Howard's mouth (or his Twitter account) as the decision, ESPN's Tim MacMahon thinks it would be the shock of the NBA offseason:

According to NBA columnist Mark Heisler, the Warriors were leading the chase for Howard on Friday morning:

Heisler also notes that the Warriors have done their due diligence in finding potential takers for three of their biggest contracts (Richard Jefferson, Andrew Bogut and Andris Biedrins). By moving two of the three in trades, a sign-and-trade with the Lakers would no longer be necessary to sign Howard:

That being said, it might still happen (per Heisler):

This tweet from ESPN's Bill Simmons is pure conjecture, but it's another interesting situation to monitor if the Lakers and Warriors end up negotiating a deal to trade pieces and send Howard to Golden State:

CBS Sports' Ken Berger weighed in on the cap situation surrounding the moves it's going to take to clear max-contract space. He listed the Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Utah Jazz as potential landing spots for two of those three contracts listed above. 

Fox Sports Ohio's Sam Amico confirmed that Cleveland was one of the team's interested in relieving cap space and getting a future first-round draft pick from the Warriors:

That report falls in line with what ESPN's Marc Stein listed as a trade partnership between the Jazz and the Warriors about sending Andrew Bogut back to the state in which he played his college ball:

The Warriors have roughly $34 million invested between Biedrins, Jefferson and Bogut, but finding a home for each would be ideal to both prove to Howard that he's wanted and to clear cap space to avoid any kind of contact with L.A. about a sign-and-trade. 

That being said, clearing cap isn't all about D12. 

Per Berger's report, the Warriors are moving contracts around in an attempt to sign another max-contract guy this offseason should the Howard situation not go in their favor. One such player could be free agent wing Andre Iguodala, who played with the Denver Nuggets last year. 

However, it's clear that Howard is Golden State's primary focus. That focus could lead to a deal for the big contracts on the roster before Howard's decision is final, which would signal a tip from the center's camp that he's made up his mind about coming to the Bay Area. 

D12 appears to change his mind faster than many of us can blink, and at this point it wouldn't be a surprise to see any of the five teams he met with emerge as the suitor for his services. 

Golden State was a dark horse at first, but by Monday morning Howard could be forming a new tandem with Stephen Curry at the top of the Western Conference contender list. 


Follow Bleacher Report FC Ethan Grant (@DowntownEG) on Twitter.