NBA free agency is underway, and the biggest storyline is where Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard ends up. The courting began immediately at the outset of free agency early Monday morning, with the Houston Rockets calling in the big dogs as part of their presentation.
In addition to much of the front office, as well as James Harden and Chandler Parsons, the Rockets called on Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and Yao Ming to sell Howard on the benefits of playing in Houston. The Rockets are believed to be the current frontrunners for Howard, and they're confident that they'll land him.
An interesting note is that the Rockets weren't the first team to talk to Howard when free agency opened. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak snuck in some face time with Howard before Houston's presentation. The Lakers are clearly going all-out to re-sign Howard, and SB Nation's Lakers blog Silver Screen and Roll explains why the big man should remain in Los Angeles.
Josh Smith meets with Pistons, but no offer made
The Detroit Pistons met with Atlanta Hawks free agent big man Josh Smith at the beginning of free agency, and at first, they were expected to make a "substantial" offer. However, Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears reports that the talks were simply "productive" and that no offer was made.
The Pistons almost certainly won't offer Smith the max, but they should have cap space for a lucrative offer. That doesn't please some of the guys over at SB Nation's Pistons blog Detroit Bad Boys, who would much rather see Andre Iguodala signed instead. Speaking of Iguodala...
Andre Iguodala to be offered contract extension from Nuggets
Spears reports that Iguodala will speak with the Pistons, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks on Monday, but Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski also says that the Denver Nuggets are preparing to offer the free agent wing a contract extension when they meet with him on Monday. Iguodala opted out of a $16 million contract for next season, but a hefty extension could certainly lure him back. SB Nation's Nuggets blog Denver Stiffs hopes that Iguodala sticks around for the long haul.
Pelicans interested in Tyreke Evans, Kevin Martin
In addition to Iguodala, the New Orleans Pelicans are looking hard at Kings restricted free agent Tyreke Evans and Oklahoma City Thunder free agent Kevin Martin. The Pelicans met with Evans early Monday morning, and TNT's David Aldridge reports that they were prepared to make a big offer. SB Nation's Pelicans blog At The Hive says the team could potentially clear nearly $13 million in cap space to sign Evans to an offer sheet outright.
If New Orleans is unable to land Evans or Iguodala, it will push hard for Martin, according to ESPN's Marc Stein. The Thunder likely won't be able to re-sign Martin due to luxury tax consequences. Martin is also expected to receive interest from the Pistons, Dallas Mavericks, Minnesota Timberwolves and Milwaukee Bucks, according to Spears.
J.J. Redick likely out in Milwaukee, O.J. Mayo meets with Timberwolves
Two of the better shooting guard prospects in this free agency class in J.J. Redick and O.J. Mayo will probably be switching teams. Redick is unlikely to return to Milwaukee, and Wojnarowski reports that the Bucks are exploring sign-and-trade possibilities. SB Nation's Bucks blog Brew Hoop says that while losing Redick would feel like a huge waste due to what has happened with Tobias Harris in Orlando, the split may wind up being for the better.
As for Mayo, Spears reports that he met with the Timberwolves at the beginning of free agency and has several more meetings scheduled for Monday. Mayo is also expected to meet with the Pistons, Bucks, Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz.