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Field Of Suitors For Dwight Howard Widening?

The field of potential suitors for Dwight Howard has "widened considerably," sources tell Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld (Twitter link). According to Kyler, the Lakers, Hawks, Rockets, Mavericks, Spurs, and Nets are all expected to pursue the All-Star center this offseason.

We've heard plenty about the interest that a handful of those teams have in Howard — the Lakers remain optimistic about re-signing him, while the Hawks, Rockets, and Mavs are all seeking an impact player and have a good chance to create room for a maximum contract offer. The Spurs and Nets, on the other hand, haven't been mentioned in the Howard discussion with the same amount of frequency, though I think there are reasons for that.

In the Nets' case, while we've heard they still maintain interest in Howard, they also have $86MM+ in salary commitments for next season. Without the cap space to sign D12 outright, they'd need to complete a sign-and-trade, and ultimately end up below the tax apron, which figures to be in the neighborhood of $75.6MM. Given the amount of undesirable contracts on the roster, it's hard to envision a scenario in which the team is able to make something work, even if Kyler tweets that they're "willing to do whatever it takes."

As for the Spurs, they've been linked to Howard multiple times by Kyler's fellow writers at HoopsWorld. Their path to cap room is easier, but they still likely won't have quite enough space for a max offer. Clearing the necessary cap room would also figure to mean parting ways with Manu Ginobili and Tiago Splitter, unless those players were inclined to agree to significant home discounts. On top of that, I'm skeptical that a team whose chemistry is arguably unmatched around the league would risk making such a big commitment to Howard, considering the circus that's followed him around the last two seasons.

Even if the Nets and Spurs are long shots for Howard, we've heard that he'll be willing to listen to pitches from just about any interested team, so plenty of clubs will have the chance to at least kick the tires this summer.

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