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Magic, Bucks, Blazers, Hornets In Lead For Howard?

The Magic, Bucks, Trail Blazers and Hornets are the favorites for Dwight Howard in free agency this summer, as Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com writes within a broader piece on the Rockets, Howard’s current team. Houston has long expected Howard to turn down his $23.282MM player option for next season in search of a max deal that would pay him about $30MM next season, and Howard and fellow Rockets star James Harden have a chemistry that one team source described to Watkins as “cordially bad.”

Howard would prefer to re-sign with the Rockets but would entertain the idea of returning to the Magic, his first NBA team, as Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher heard. Howard told Bucks play-by-play announcer Gus Johnson he wanted the Rockets to trade him to Milwaukee at the February deadline this year, Johnson said. The Hornets and Rockets had exploratory trade talks about Howard before the deadline, and Howard played under Charlotte head coach Steve Clifford when he was an assistant. This is the first reported link between Howard and Portland this year.

The 30-year-old former All-Star is known for indecisiveness regarding contract matters in the past, so it would be no shock if this list of front-runners undergoes drastic changes between now and July, when he can sign a contract with a new team. Howard was a client of agent Dan Fegan during his split with the Magic and one-year Lakers tenure, but earlier this year he dropped Fegan in favor of Perry Rogers, Shaquille O’Neal’s rep.

Chandler Parsons publicly campaigned Tuesday for Howard to join him on the Mavericks, but the Mavericks don’t want to give Howard a deal approaching the max, and Dirk Nowitzki, who’s spoken openly about potential free agents in the past, declined comment when asked about the possibility of Howard in Dallas, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com.

The Magic are in line to have no shortage of cap room this summer, with enough flexibility to sign two max free agents. Portland doesn’t have quite that much but still has more than enough flexibility to afford a max contract for Howard, even with Damian Lillard‘s max extension kicking in. The Bucks would likely have to perform some cap gymnastics to accommodate Howard, since they already have close to $62MM in guaranteed salary committed against a projected $92MM cap. Charlotte only has about $46MM on the books, but that doesn’t include any money for soon-to-be free agents Al Jefferson, whom Howard would likely replace if he were to sign with the Hornets, or Nicolas Batum.

Regardless, it appears Howard would face a difficult atmosphere if he were to return to Houston next season. One source close to the Rockets told Watkins that Howard lost the respect of his teammates, though a Rockets player who spoke with Watkins offered a dissenting view. Harden and Howard have spoken about their on-court issues and Harden paid for Howard’s birthday dinner earlier this season, but the high-scoring guard feels Howard is too distracted and doesn’t demand the ball enough, according to Watkins. Howard doesn’t feel Harden respects him and solicits the opinions of former teammates about what he can do to fix that, as Watkins details.

What’s your best guess as to where Howard ends up? Leave a comment to share your idea.

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16 thoughts on “Magic, Bucks, Blazers, Hornets In Lead For Howard?

  1. GoPackGo23

    Please don’t Bucks…30 million a year for a cancer in the locker room? Yeah I get he will help our defense a lot which should be our main concern this offseason but offensively how much better will he even be compared to monroe? Monroe makes 17 mil a year which is a lot more affordable and if you feel the need to move him for a guard you can use the top 10 pick to draft s big man (a lot cheaper I might add) then add a lesser FA center in the draft. Bottom line Howard can’t stay with any team because of his attitude. He’s a cancer.

    • Themydailynightmare

      Exactly. The last thing this Bucks squad needs is a cancer like Howard. It’s the same thing every place he goes. Trade Monroe and hopefully Poetl falls to them. The Bucks don’t need to make a splash. They need to grow and add a couple pieces. A Howard signing without a doubt will cripple the Bucks from ever reaching their potential.

    • we don’t a have a center…area of need….moose is a power forward and Jabari is a small forward. Dwight could put us over the hump of meritocracy

      • Themydailynightmare

        Or, most likely, blow a hole in the side of the ship so it sinks faster than the USS Arizona.

      • Bobby Sweet

        I think Hassan Whiteside would be perfect. If you’re willing to pay Howard, why not give it to Whiteside? Great, young, with a ton of potential. Just like the rest of the team.

        • No. Run from Whiteside….fool’s gold. Maybe the Blazers can make a run at him. If the Bucks do, I don’t know…I would want a proven guy not one who loses focus and does not have any discipline yet…I am scared of him.

        • Steve in Chicago

          Yes better idea if white side had any inclination

      • Absolutely dj…..Monroe is a PF. Jabari can man the 3 and Giannis and Middleton in the back court. You can play Howard and Monroe until you move Monroe at the deadline if you have to and max GA34 and Jabari next Summer together and wait and see if Giannis gets a jumper…that what they should do. But you have to make the playoffs this year…for sure!! That alone is why they should do it.

    • Bucks fans you are delusional. I am the biggest Bucks fan you can find and I am saying THE BUCKS SHOULD FALL OVER THEMSELVES to acquire Howard. We have lost here so long our fans have a fearful losing mentality that I am frankly getting tired of. Yes he could help us! I trust the GM and New Owners don’t listen to scared Bucks fans. He is not a locker room cancer. Get real! Where did you read or here that!? Don’t worry about being “affordable!” THERE WILL NOT BE ANY SUCH THING as affordable and a good contract in two years. Howard is elite and you have to pay for elite players to get to where we want to go. He is 30 in great shape and in his prime! Sure you get him to go with Giannis, Jabari and Middleton. He is the perfect complement and does not compare to Monroe who has only one more year. Bucks would be a great fit for him in the East…and Blazers in the West. You get him if for no other reason but to keep him from going to the Knicks, Magic or the Hornets.

  2. Gucci7383

    I’m gonna jump out there and say Lakers just because Kobe is gone and its La

  3. Be surprised if Magic would offer what he wants … Also do not think he would fit current good Magic chemistry.

  4. Z.....

    I still say Dwight gets unfairly blamed for stuff, at least in Houston. James Harden is drinking wayyyy too much of his own cool-aid. He is clearly the problem

    • While Harden is hardly blameless Dwight still needs to go. He’s as good a shooter as Deandre Jordan while he’s losing his athleticism by the season. At this stage, Capela’s a like-for-like replacement for him with room to improve.

  5. Not from Compton

    I hope not a Blazer Horford or Monroe but I would go young with Boogie

  6. Arthur Hill

    Too much attention gets paid to Dwight’s mental state and not enough to his physical state. His back and knee injuries are wearing him down, and at age 30 they’re only going to get worse. I wouldn’t give him a max deal, but not because I’m worried about his locker room presence.

  7. Steve in Chicago

    He will end up in Washington as the consolation prize, or ATL after Horford leaves.

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