Jumat, 05 Juli 2013

Three teams lead Dwight Howard free agency sweepstakes

Dwight Howard continues to mull his options in free agency but a return to the Lakers is still possible.(Photo Jayne Kamin Oncea USA TODAY Sports)

Somewhere in Aspen Colo. in that undisclosed location where Dwight Howard escaped to clear his head and make up his mind the truth will emerge.

The big man who has stolen the spotlight for so long will finally decide his fate be it to join the Houston Rockets Golden State Warriors Los Angeles Lakers or no let's stop there. The Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks are among the teams dying to know as well of course but the events of the last 24 hours have sent strong signs that their respective candidacy has likely come to an end.

Elsewhere however chaos ensues. According to a person with knowledge of the situation the Warriors have been given indications within the last day that the Houston Rockets are the strong favorite to land Howard. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the talks.

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The backdrop that surrounds the Warriors however tells a different tale. Having been given the impression in recent days that they were in Howard's top three with the Rockets and Lakers likely the other two the Warriors went to work attempting to clear salary cap space with a vision in mind that's even grander than one what was initially assumed.

The notion of clearing space to sign Howard outright isn't the only plan in play as free agent small forward Andre Iguodala has serious interest in joining the Warriors even without Howard. He has been seen as a possible cherry on top of their recruiting efforts to get the big man. It's their version of the Rockets' plan that is also in play with free agent forward Josh Smith considered the third star in the sort of scenario that both teams hope could win his affection.

If they could convince a team to take contracts like those attached to Andris Biedrins and Richard Jefferson (a combined $20 million in expiring salaries next season) and others Iguodala could be signed and possibly tip the scales on Howard's decision. Should he pick them they would then do a sign and trade with a Lakers team that would face the prospect of losing him for nothing if they don't cooperate with the Warriors and hypothetically speaking see Howard head to Houston instead.The timing factor in play here is beyond problematic at this point as Howard's decision was widely expected to come today and the Warriors have yet to find a new home for those players.

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But this much is clear Iguodala remains a possibility only if those deals can be made as his former Denver Nuggets team strongly rebuffed the idea of cooperating in a sign and trade with a Warriors team that upset them in the first round of the playoffs and the Rockets are clearly worried about the threat the Warriors pose to land Howard.

All signs point to that fear being unfounded at this point. And should the Rockets win these sweepstakes as has been expected for so long the Warriors will go down as the team that pushed its way into the top three after Houston and the Lakers were running a two horse race.

Warriors consultant and Lakers legend Jerry West was in the room during Howard's meeting with the Warriors putting the most fascinating of spins on his story if he should shock the world and follow the Logo's light. Coach Mark Jackson was compelling and convincing as always and the clear fondness that Howard has for Warriors star Stephen Curry is coming into play too.

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The Lakers always loom large too even with the long list of reasonable concerns he has with coming back. He is still being reminded of what they and they alone can offer beyond the extra year and $30 million on a contract the history of championships and the chance to take the reigns from Kobe Bryant in their next era.

It's a one of a kind market the Lakers told him the only place where he can have the best on court career and unmatched business opportunities after his playing days are over.

It may have been an ominous sign when the Lakers had actor Jack Nicholson join the parade of celebrities trying to influence Howard's decision what with the truth that they may be forced to handle sometime soon. The wait continues but it should be over soon. It's time to wake up from this Dwightmare for good.

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