Dwight Howard to Consider Hawks and Warriors in Free Agency

Despite so much uncertainty and controversy, the Los Angeles Lakers remain confident in their ability to retain center Dwight Howard. Nevertheless, suitors for the big fella’s services include the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets, and now, there’s word of Howard considering the Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks as possible free agent destinations. Per the LA Daily News: “I’m optimistic,’ Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said. ‘Just look at what we have to offer.’ Kupchak then ticked off the Lakers’ championship history, the team’s fan base and the ‘lifestyle’ Los Angeles affords. He also alluded to the Lakers’ financial leverage. Howard can sign with the Lakers for five years and $118 million or go somewhere else for four years and $88 million. The NBA’s labor deal devised five-year deals to boast annual raises worth 7.5 percent of the first-year’s salary, as opposed to four-year deals that have 4.5 percent raises. Howard wouldn’t have to pay state income taxes for home games if he played for the Houston Rockets or Dallas Mavericks. Kupchak also believes Howard will co-exist with head coach Mike D’Antoni, whom Kupchak has said will return next season. ‘I have absolute and complete confidence,’ Kupchak said. ‘Players don’t have to like coaches. They just have to play hard. In L.A., our coaches get evaluated on wins and losses and not whether our players like them or don’t like them.’ Kupchak won’t have clarity on Howard’s future anytime soon. A source familiar with Howard’s thinking says he plans to test free agency and has considered the Lakers, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta and Golden State. Nothing remains binding, though. The source added Howard’s main concern involves ‘what team he feels has the best chance to win championships, has the best team and system around him.’ The source also stressed Howard has not and will not ask the Lakers to make any moves on his behalf. Kupchak acknowledged the team has made unspecified contingency plans in case Howard leaves. Either way, Howard can’t officially re-sign until July 10 when a moratorium on NBA business is lifted.”