Western Notes: Howard, White, Mitchell

The market for Rockets big man Dwight Howard, who is expected to turn down his player option of more than $23.282MM and test the free agent market this summer, is a difficult one to gauge, writes Shaun Powell of NBA.com. The scribe cites the diminishing importance of traditional big men in the league as well as concerns about Howard’s health and drive to win as reasons the veteran may find it difficult to land a max salary deal this offseason. If Houston decides not to attempt to re-sign the big man this summer, it may be more about the team utilizing cap space to ink role players and strengthen the bench than any dissatisfaction with Howard, Powell adds.

Here’s more from out West:

  • Suns affiliate player Terrico White hasn’t signed with an international team and intends to remain in the D-League, Chris Reichert of Upside & Motor reports (via Twitter). It was reported earlier that White backed out of an agreement with Israel’s Maccabi Rishon to sign with rival Nes-Ziona.
  • Despite the Pelicans‘ free fall in the standings this season, the team has no intention to jockey for a better lottery position via tanking, coach Alvin Gentry told John Reid of The Times Picayune. ”What we try to do is that when we walk out on the court, we try to play at the highest level that we can,” Gentry said. ”Wherever that gets us in the draft, that gets us in the draft. I’ve never been a guy that thought, ‘Hey lets get some extra pingpong balls or whatever.’ I don’t know how you sell that to your players. So for us every night we step out, we’re going to try to be as competitive as we possibly can.’‘ New Orleans currently has a 6.3% shot at landing the No. 1 overall pick this June, as is shown by our Reverse Standings tracker.
  • The Timberwolves are taking a similar approach to how the Thunder built their roster through the draft in order to become a Western Conference power, Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post observes. The franchise’s collection of young talent and potential top five pick in this year’s NBA draft have Minnesota primed to become a force in the near future, Bontemps opines. The scribe also predicts that interim coach Sam Mitchell will retain the job for next season, pointing to his closeness to the late Flip Saunders as well as his rapport with veteran Kevin Garnett.
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