Dwight Howard is still nearly over 10 months from free agency, but it appears the "Dwightmare" is over, with D12 having been traded to a team likely to sign him long-term. However, as we saw with players such as Howard, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, and others, superstars approaching unrestricted free agency have a tendency to create some drama.
Howard wasn't the first star to be the subject of months of speculation and rumors, and he won't be the last. So with his saga over, at least for now, it's no surprise that a handful of NBA scribes have started trying to determine which player will be next to hold his team hostage. Here are a few of their ideas:
- Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld identifies Paul, Josh Smith, and Andrew Bynum as three players facing unrestricted free agency in 2013 that could be subject of months of "will he stay or go?" speculation. However, Kyler says Paul is likely to re-up with the Clippers next summer and that Bynum is "thrilled" with his new situation in Philadelphia. Smith would also prefer to stay put, according to Kyler, but it's not out of the question that he's traded later this season.
- Tom Ziller of SBNation also names Paul and Bynum, filling out his list of possibilities with Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge. Acknowledging that Love and Aldridge are still a ways off from free agency, Ziller says he thinks there's a decent chance Aldridge could want out of Portland if the team doesn't make major strides in the next couple years.
- Chris Bernucca of Sheridan Hoops looks at a number of candidates to be the next Dwight, noting that it won't be long before the speculation about the summer of 2014 begins — LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh all have the chance to opt out at that point.