However, Los Angeles won’t be the only team looking to sign Howard. Sources tell Charania that the Warriors are among the potential contenders expected to have interest in the former three-time Defensive Player of the Year.
After missing nearly the entire 2018/19 season for health reasons, Howard bounced back in a big way in ’19/20, appearing in 69 regular season games and another 18 postseason contests for the Lakers.
The 34-year-old willingly took on a reduced role, playing a career-low 18.9 MPG. However, he made a major impact in that role, with 7.5 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.1 BPG, and a .729 FG%. Howard also flashed his old DPOY form in certain matchups, agitating Nikola Jokic during the Western Conference Finals.
As he enters his age-35 season, Howard won’t be in line for a big-money multiyear deal, but he could receive offers that exceed the minimum salary he earned in 2019/20. The Warriors will have the taxpayer mid-level exception (worth approximately $5.72MM) available and may decide to use some or all of that exception to make Howard an offer.
Golden State has some options at center, including Marquese Chriss, Kevon Looney, and Draymond Green, but may be seeking a more physical big man to share minutes at the five. Monte Poole of NBC Bay Area argued last week that Howard would be an ideal fit, suggesting he could be a lob threat on offense and would provide the same sort of physicality that veteran Warriors centers like Andrew Bogut and Zaza Pachulia did in previous years.
The Lakers hold Non-Bird rights on Howard, so if they want to offer him more than the minimum, they can go up to about $3.08MM using the Non-Bird exception. A more lucrative offer would mean dipping into their mid-level or bi-annual exception.