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Dwight Howard rumors: Houston Rockets reportedly 'frontrunners' to sign star center

Center Dwight Howard will meet with five teams to begin his free agency process.

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY

The Houston Rockets will try to sell a championship roster, greater marketing possibilities and a four-year contract to free agent Dwight Howard, and that combination makes them a frontrunner to sign him, according to Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowski.

Houston will be the first of five teams to meet with the NBA's most coveted free agent when the signing period begins on Monday. The Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks, Golden State Warriors and Howard's current team, the Los Angeles Lakers, will all meet with him before Wednesday.

But it's the Rockets who have the cap room for a four-year, max contract and the most intriguing combination of roster and marketing capabilities. They can sell Howard as being the missing piece to the puzzle, offer him savings by way of the Texas tax rules and give him marketing capabilities across the world thanks to their following in China.

It's a leg up on the Lakers, who would like to re-sign Howard but might have trouble doing so with head coach Mike D'Antoni's system being a potential turn-off. Los Angeles's stiff financial situation is also a negative point. The Lakers can, however, sign Howard to a five-year deal worth $30 million more than any other team.

Meanwhile, the Golden State Warriors and Dallas Mavericks are also behind the ball, according to Wojnarowski. Golden State would have to make a sign-and-trade deal with the Lakers to make Howard theirs, gutting their promising young roster in the process.

Dallas has little sell other than coach Rick Carlisle and aging forward Dirk Nowitzki.

The Hawks have cap space to sign Howard but thus far little interest from him in signing with the team.

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