Having declined his player option with the Rockets, Dwight Howard is headed for free agency in July, and according to Ian Begley of ESPN.com, the Knicks are among the teams the veteran center will consider. Begley writes that Howard told friends earlier in the season that he’d be interested in playing for the Knicks, and that interest still exists with the free agent period around the corner, per Begley.
Of course, while Howard may be open to landing in New York, it’s not yet clear whether that interest will be reciprocated. With Arron Afflalo and Derrick Williams opting out of their contracts, the Knicks figure to have more than $30MM in cap room, which would be enough to sign Howard, but the club will likely prioritize backcourt upgrades this offseason. Signing Howard might also mean jettisoning Robin Lopez, who signed a long-term deal with the Knicks a year ago and had a solid season.
Howard’s time in Houston probably can’t be considered a huge success, despite the fact that the Rockets made the Western Conference Finals in his second year with the franchise. The eight-time All-Star was never really a perfect complement for star shooting guard James Harden, and saw his involvement in the team’s offense decline during the past two seasons. Howard made 71 appearances for the Rockets in 2015/16, averaging 13.7 points, 11.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.63 blocks in 32.1 minutes per game. He shot 62% from the field, but just 48.9% from the free-throw line.
Despite Howard’s up-and-down stint in Houston, ESPN’s Calvin Watkins reports that team officials tried to talk the former first overall pick into picking his player option and staying for one more season (Twitter link via ESPN’s Marc Stein). The Rockets could still make an effort to re-sign Howard in free agency, but they’ll have competition from other suitors now.