As the bidding war for Dwight Howard intensifies, the Houston Rockets are emerging as the favorites to sign the Los Angeles Lakers All-Star and are set to meet with him on Sunday night.
According to Yahoo! Sports NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski, Houston is in the virtual lead among teams that have a viable opportunity to sign Howard, and they will make a formal presentation to him as soon as free agency begins on the West Coast after 9:00 PT. Although the Lakers have a financial advantage in the ability to pay him roughly $30 million more over the life of the contract in the form of one additional year and larger raises over all five years, the state of Texas has no state income tax, which mitigates it considerably.
But Howard has been clear in his intent to let basketball alone dictate his eventual decision, and the Rockets hold that advantage too. They have the cap room to offer a max deal, young stars in James Harden and Chandler Parsons and a flexible system under head coach Kevin McHale that can be suited to feature Howard’s game.
In addition to those factors, Houston is tapped into the Chinese market and is the most broadcasted NBA team in the Far East due to their ties with Yao Ming and now Jeremy Lin, whose popularity has soared. With Howard as a final piece, the No. 8 seed from a season ago can improve substantially, especially on the defensive end where they struggled.
No one knows what Howard is thinking, but he has vowed not to let the process drag out unnecessarily. With that in mind a decision could be made well before the signing period begins on July 10.
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Photo Credit: T.C. / Flickr
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