Dwight Howard will reportedly talk to Rockets, Mavericks

USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers aren't outright favorites to sign free agent Dwight Howard, according to a report from CBS Sports.

Dwight Howard will take a good look at his free agency options other than the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason. The Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks are two of the teams that could end up wooing the free agent center, CBS Sports' Ken Berger reports.

While the Lakers were hoping for a relatively quick decision from Howard to re-sign with them, sources told Berger that they believe the big man will give his free agency a lot of thought. Although Los Angeles could offer Howard a five-year deal and higher increased pay from year to year compared to a team that signs him away as an unrestricted free agent, there are other, non-monetary advantages if Howard were to leave Lakerland.

For more on the Lakers visit: Silver Screen and Roll

For one, Howard will be looking at another max contract if he remains healthy, making the ability for a longer-term signing with the Lakers a moot point. In addition, the teams in Houston and Dallas could be a better fit for Howard and his skill set.

Los Angeles will be locked into a tight budget next season even if they use their amnesty clause on a large contract. The age of the Lakers lineup and the turmoil this past season are obviously possible problems for Howard as well. He would have to be confident that the Lakers would be able to bring in enough key players next offseason to turn them into a true title contender.

In Houston, he'd be able to join young All-Star James Harden along with rising role player Chandler Parsons and big man Omer Asik. The Rockets have plenty of flexibility to add more pieces to the puzzle, and though they'd need to make some small moves to make room for a max contract, it's certainly doable.

Dallas is another intriguing possibility. Aging All-Star Dirk Nowitzki said after this season he would be willing to take a pay cut for the Mavericks if they needed to sign another star player. Nowitzki also named Howard along with Clippers point guard Chris Paul as players he'd like to be teammates with.

Berger also notes that Howard could save $10 million in state income tax by playing in Texas.

Whatever the case may be, Howard appears to be set on exploring his options, which is not to the Lakers' benefit.

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