The fact that Dwight Howard did not fully enjoy his first season with the Los Angeles Lakers is not a secret, but would he really leave $30 million on the table to make it his last? Howard has made it clear that he will explore all options when NBA free agency begins in a month, but the Lakers can offer him a five-year deal worth $120 million. Any other team could offer only four years and $90 million, giving LA a clear advantage — right?
Maybe not. As always, tax talk has come into play. According to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, the Rockets have received “hopeful signals” that Howard is legitimately considering signing with Houston over the Lakers next month. Howard has reportedly expressed serious interest in teaming with James Harden, who said earlier this offseason that he would be active in recruiting free agents to come to Houston.
Now, back to the taxes. Stein pointed out that there are no state taxes in Texas, which narrows the gap between the contracts the two teams could offer. In addition, it is likely Howard would opt out of any five-year deal he signed with the Lakers before the fifth year anyway, making him a free agent before their “advantage” over other teams even comes into play.
On ESPN’s First Take Friday morning, Stephen A. Smith described it as a “50-50 shot” that Dwight Howard is going to leave the Lakers. It is believed that the Rockets have been shopping Thomas Robinson, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2012 draft, to create the cap space they would need to sign a player like Howard.
Of course, we’re still talking about Dwight Howard. The big man was reportedly frustrated with Mike D’Antoni this past season, but for all we know that could have been resolved with a five-minute phone conversation. Howard loves the spotlight and loves changing his mind. Even if he does decide to return to LA, there’s no way he would do it without making the team sweat.Google+