Dwight Howard would prefer to re-sign with the Rockets this summer, but the Magic have heard that he’d entertain the idea of returning to Orlando, league sources told Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher for a video report (Twitter link). Howard is expected to turn down a player option worth about $23.282MM to seek a maximum salary deal that would pay him some $30MM next season. Previous reports have indicated his interest in the Bucks and Knicks.
A return to Orlando, where Howard spent the first eight seasons of his career and made his only Finals appearance, has seemed far-fetched ever since the team dealt him to the Lakers in August 2012. Magic GM Rob Hennigan was in his first offseason on the job when he traded Howard away, ending an acrimonious saga that dragged on over the final months of Howard’s tenure in Orlando. The Magic, with only mathematical hopes of a postseason berth this year, have yet to make the playoffs since.
Howard’s future plans have long been difficult to pin down. USA Today’s Sam Amick suggested earlier this week that the Rockets were merely a fallback option for the former All-Star, and Houston engaged in well-publicized trade talks with several teams about him before last month’s deadline. The 30-year-old former No. 1 overall pick was in the midst of changing agents while the trade talk was going on, dumping Dan Fegan for Perry Rogers, the representative for fellow ex-Magic center Shaquille O’Neal.
The Rockets were reportedly in touch with the Mavericks, Bulls, Hawks, Celtics, Hornets, Heat, Bucks and Raptors about Howard as they engaged teams about their interest in him, but Houston found the market underwhelming. Howard is averaging 14.3 points and 8.8 shot attempts per game, his lowest numbers in either category since the 2004/05 season, when he was a 19-year-old rookie with the Magic.