In 10 days, the NBA will enter the notorious offseason period known as free agency, a.k.a when NBA front offices postulate and compete to see who can throw more money at players whose contracts have just ended. This summer, the biggest prize is easily the Thunder’s Kevin Durant, a Top 3 player in the league still in his prime. However, there are other targets for GMs to train their eyes on, including Demar DeRozan and Michael Conley Jr., and you can go ahead and add Dwight Howard to that list.
After two tumultuous seasons in Houston, Howard appears ready to take his act elsewhere, as he opted out of the final year of his contract with the Rockets today to become an unrestricted free agent. Several teams looked ready to make a move to acquire Howard at this past February’s trading deadline, and those same teams will likely line up to court the towering big man, who is still a two-way threat despite his inefficiency in recent years.
Howard left Orlando after a falling out with the organization and coaching staff in 2012, and made a beeline for Los Angeles, where he was expected to team up with Kobe Bryant and compete for a championship. After just one year, that seemed unlikely, and Dwight signed with Houston, where he and Dwight Howard were expected to be one of the more formidable 1-2 punches in the league. Though he showed flashes of brilliance, Howard never regained the dominance he once exuded in Orlando, where he won multiple Defensive Player of the Year awards, and his inability to get on the same page as the team’s franchise player, James Harden, left the Rockets unable to find the team chemistry necessary to compete in the Western Conference. Everyone expected Howard to opt out this summer, today he just made it official.
As far as potential suitors go, expect the Boston Celtics to be high on that list. Outside of Carmelo Anthony, the Celtics appeared to be interested in no one more than Howard this season, as they look to add a star playmaker to a robust roster that has already made playoff runs each of the last two seasons. Once free agency starts, Howard will likely be sitting down with numerous teams, so it’ll be interesting which situation he finds most appealing.