Rockets center Dwight Howard is widely expected to turn down his player option for next season, which is worth $23,282,457, in pursuit of a long-term deal. Many league executives and agents believe that the NBA’s salary cap will escalate to a whopping $95MM for 2016/17, which is a higher figure than the league’s last projection of $89MM. This significant bump is a result of the league’s new $24 billion TV deal that kicks in just in time for next season. As a result of this increase there will be significantly more teams with enough available cap space to offer maximum salary deals, something that is not likely lost on Howard and his representatives.
Members of Houston’s front office told Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle prior to the disappointment of the season setting in that they had no intention of letting the big man depart this summer, but GM Daryl Morey said to Smith more recently that he’s not thinking too far in the future at this point. “We’re just focused on this season. So is Dwight,” Morey said. “If … he as a player play[s] like we know he’s capable [of] … all that stuff takes care of itself.”
The Rockets are clinging to the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference, and even if they do indeed make the playoffs a deep run isn’t likely given the talent present in the West. Howard is having a bit of a down year statistically, but that is due more to him receiving fewer touches in the team’s offense than him performing poorly. At this point in his career, Howard has almost assuredly peaked as a player, and he will likely never again become the dominant force that he was during his time in Orlando.
This brings me to the topic/question for today: Should the Rockets re-sign Dwight Howard to a long-term deal this offseason if the center opts out of his contract?
Houston has the look of a franchise that needs to hit the reset button, and if that is indeed the case, it has to decide if the 30-year-old Howard should be a part of its future. The team currently is projected to have approximately $7MM-$10MM in cap space this summer, a number that includes Howard’s 2016/17 salary. If the team decides to re-sign Howard, provided he opts out, that will prohibit the Rockets from adding a significant piece via free agency unless some salary is cleared via trade. The big man has had injury issues and he’s not likely to grow more durable with age, which makes any long-term deal a risk. But he’s also one of the more talented centers in the league and would be an extremely difficult player to replace.
So what say you? Should the team look to keep Howard no matter the cost, or should the Rockets look to use their cap space in a different manner and let him depart? Take to the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions on the subject. We look forward to what you have to say.