The NBA rumors regarding Dwight Howard are heating up in the week before he hits free agency, with the New York Knicks potentially jumping to the top of the pack for the All-Star center.
Howard is set to hit free agency on July 1, opting out of the final year of his contract and bolting the Houston Rockets, where he clashed with management about his place on the team and their request that he take on a smaller role.
While there have been close to a dozen teams linked to Howard in one form or another, the one that now stands out most is the Knicks. ESPN New York reported that the team’s trade for Derrick Rose has piqued Howard’s interest, and could be a welcome addition to the team in need of a low-post presence.
The Chicago Bulls would certainly have the room, with about $30 million in cap space to work with this summer, but it’s not clear how much of a priority Howard might be to them. The Knicks have already invested a four-year contract into big man Robin Lopez, who played a major role on the team this year.
There is at least one team likely out of the running for Dwight Howard. There had been some lingering rumors that he could end up back with the team that first drafted him, the Orlando Magic, but another blockbuster trade should rule that out entirely. The Magic just traded for Oklahoma City Thunder big man Serge Ibaka, leaving no room for Dwight Howard on the team.
The trade led to a bit of celebration in Orlando, at least from Orlando Sentinal columnist George Diaz, who reiterated his dislike for Howard.
“Dwight Howard is the most self-absorbed and least introspective athlete I’ve ever seen. I can say this as someone who has covered more than one rodeo, or at least every major sport you can think of in the last three decades.
“He thinks he’s the bomb, but that’s not good for the rest of us.”
A reunion with the Houston Rockets also seems out of the question. The Rockets just picked Mike D’Antoni as their head coach, a man with a not-so-happy history with Dwight Howard. The two clashed while D’Antoni was coach of the Los Angeles Lakers and Howard was the team’s disappointing enter.
I wouldn't call this a recruiting pitch from James Harden to Dwight Howard: https://t.co/c5z71K57bO
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) June 23, 2016
What's the best free-agent fit for Dwight Howard? https://t.co/F0xAlML6Jo
— Rockets Update (@RocketsUpdate) June 25, 2016
There could be less of a market than Howard might be expecting (or hoping for), CBS Sports noted. The report listed a number of injuries Howard has suffered in the last three years, and noted that he saw his points-per-game fall off to a career-low last year. But the report also gave Howard some props, saying he is still “a veteran center who can still play elite-level defense.”
Money could be an issue, CBS Sports added, and Dwight Howard will likely have to accept something less than a max contract due to the drop-off in his athleticism and the nagging injuries he’s been dealing with for the last few seasons.
As CBS Sports noted, the NBA rumors connecting Dwight Howard to the New York Knicks are also heavily dependent on his asking price.
“This is the kind of move that makes you worry as a Knicks fan. It’s one thing to take on Rose’s $20 million salary on a one-year deal. Devoting big money to Dwight Howard as a combo follow-up could be a complete disaster. That’s giving up likely $60 million combined to not-versatile Carmelo Anthony, injury-ravaged Rose, and over-30, on-the-decline clownish jokester Howard coming off three big injury seasons. That’s a recipe for a complete fall-apart that makes you wonder what the Knicks were possibly thinking in putting that team together.”
If the NBA rumors connecting Dwight Howard to the New York Knicks don’t pan out, there could be a handful of other viable options for the All-Star center. The Brooklyn Nets have reportedly wanted Howard for a long time, dating back to his tenure with the Orlando Magic, and the Chicago Bulls are also in need of a center.
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