Dwight Howard will alter the course of multiple NBA franchises when he finally reveals his free agency decision, so on the eve of a resolution the Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers are all making preparations to move forward with contingency plans, if necessary. Likewise, there are other free agents around the association waiting for teams to strike out on Howard and use their massive cap space in other ways. Everyone is in a holding pattern at the moment, and Dwight's decision will act as a pivot for other important transactions. Here's the latest on where D-12 is leaning.
Lakers Reconsider Sign-and-Trade for Howard, May be 'Bracing for Worst'
The Los Angeles Lakers are losing confidence that Dwight will choose to stay with the team. Although most people assumed that the front office was willing to risk losing their star big man for nothing, in order to clear cap space for another free agent run in 2014, the organization is now reconsidering its position regarding sign-and-trade scenarios, according to a report from Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne.
SB Nation's Lakers blog, Sliver Screen and Roll, has more on the story:
Questions "inside and outside" the franchise regarding Howard's "ability and willingness" to co-exist with Kobe Bryant and Mike D'Antoni have raised doubts that he will decide to re-sign with the Lakers, according to the report from Shelburne and Stein.
The Lakers are "bracing for the worst."
The Lakers still prefer to re-sign Howard, according to the report, but the decision is out of their hands and the latest developments confirm that nobody knows which option Howard will ultimately choose. The emergence of the Golden State Warriors as a serious suitor in the past 24 hours has certainly complicated matters for L.A.
Warriors Try to Clear Cap Space in Effort to Sign Howard
The Golden State Warriors felt their meeting with Howard went very well, and on Thursday an ESPN report revealed that the team is "aggressively attempting to trade away players" to clear space to sign the star center. The Warriors need to clear roughly $30 million, and shedding the obligations to Andrew Bogut ($14 million), Richard Jefferson ($11 million) and Andris Biedrins ($9 million) would be enough to get the job done. However, Bogut is the only desirable player in that group, so it's expected that that Golden State would also have to use Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes or a future first-round draft pick to sweeten the deal for other teams.
Golden State already used the amnesty provision on Charlie Bell, so there aren't many ways to get creative outside of a trade scenario. Zach Lowe of Grantland suggested on Thursday that the Warriors could try to build a three-team deal to send a cheap asset like Thompson or Barnes, and then move the expiring deals to another team. If the Lakers are truly reconsidering their stance on a sign-and-trade, things could get very interesting in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes on Friday.
Are Rockets Still the Vegas Favorites to Land Howard?
On Wednesday, the Vegas odds pegged the Houston Rockets (+140) as the odds-on favorites to sign Howard, with the Lakers (+180), Mavericks (+300), Hawks (+950) and Warriors (+1000) lagging behind. Those odds at OddsShark.com have not been updated, but so much has changed in the past 48 hours that it's hard to believe the landscape looks the same right now. Hopefully we won't have to wait much longer to find out.
Dwight May Be Interested in Playing With Jose Calderon
Dwight Howard is reportedly interested in playing with veteran point guard Jose Calderon, according to Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld.com. Calderon turned down an offer from the Kings earlier in the free agency period, and Kennedy speculates that he could wind up signing with the Lakers if Dwight goes there.
Chris Copeland Waiting on Howard's Decision to Assess Offer Sheets
Chris Copeland of the New York Knicks is a restricted free agent this summer and has received interest from the Lakers, Pacers and Jazz, but he will reportedly wait on a decision from Dwight Howard before he determines whether he will sign an offer sheet from another team, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post.
You can expect plenty of the free agent dominoes to fall after Dwight makes his decision, so buckle up for a wild Friday in the NBA.