Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard is set to become a free agent on July 1, and it is "unlikely" he will re-sign with the Lakers due to his issues with head coach Mike D'Antoni's system, according to a report from Chris Broussard of ESPN. L.A. has engaged in discussions with Howard's representatives, and the team remains confident they will be able to re-sign the star big man, but his frustration with D'Antoni is something that has been floating around in the rumor mill since the end of the disappointing 2012-13 season. If Howard decides to move on, the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks are listed by Broussard as the favorites to land him.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak made an effort at the end of the year to deny a rift between Howard and D'Antoni, but since then there have been multiple reports that other teams are lining up to make a run at Howard this summer. The Houston Rockets have supposedly made Howard and Chris Paul targets 1 and 1a in free agency. Things are serious enough that Chandler Parsons has risked a tampering charge by constantly selling Howard on the idea of signing in Houston and GM Daryl Morey is shopping Thomas Robinson heading into the 2013 NBA Draft to help clear cap space for D-12.
The Lakers can still offer more money and more years on a new contract than any other team in the NBA, and Kobe Bryant has requested the "final word" before Howard makes any decision to leave, so this situation is far from resolved. The tide is slowly turning in L.A. among fans, however. At Lakers blog Silver Screen and Roll, three of the four writers on the latest Dwight Howard round table feature now believe he will head elsewhere when he becomes a free agent. Here we go again.