Dwight Howard is the most coveted free agent of the 2013 off season. He's narrowed his list down to 5 teams including the Lakers, Mavericks, Hawks, Warriors and Rockets. We're analyzing the news and rumors related to Howard's decision along with the possible sign-and-trade scenarios involved to make a deal happen.

Check back often until his decision is made.

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07:37pm EST | Jul 05
It looks like the DwightMare is finally over. He has informed all the teams that are out of the sweepstakes, paving the way for his final decision according to Yahoo! Sports:

Dwight Howard has chosen to sign with the Houston Rockets.

06:38pm EST | Jul 05
And Than Rockets GM tweets this...

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Wait...the Dwightmare continues?

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It looks like we have a winner
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You know cause their the same type of player

05:44pm EST | Jul 05
I get that Dwight Howard is a unique talent and historically his type of talent is never available in free agency but he hasen't really improved in the last few years and already had one back surgery.

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When will the DwightMare end? 

No one seems to know, but the teams in the hunt are fearing it may already be over:

02:32pm EST | Jul 05
Seems the reporter jumped the gun:
02:14pm EST | Jul 05

02:06pm EST | Jul 05
Not sure how reliable this source is (Orange County Register) but they are reporting that Howard will make his decision via Twitter over the weekend:

I think we all felt he wasn't going to actually make his decision when he said he would, but we'll continue to update as more information comes in. Still not sure this is reliable (Dwight is in Aspen, Colorado right now).
02:00pm EST | Jul 05
I can see why this one wasn't made into a billboard:

01:34pm EST | Jul 05
We've been talking about this all day, but the idea of no state tax is apparently a key part of Howard's decision:

01:24pm EST | Jul 05
Once Howard actually makes his decision, we should see some immediate action surrounding two key free agents:

Josh Smith

Whichever teams miss out on Howard, it seems obvious they would immediately move their attention to signing Josh Smith. 

  • The Hawks could re-sign Smith and offer him the most money. 
  • The Rockets could provide him the best long-term future as the next big piece next to James Harden.
  • The Mavericks could offer championship pedigree, the most esteemed coach and a chance to play next to Dirk Nowitzki (for a few more years)
Andre Iguodala

While the Golden State Warriors would be the least affected by missing out on Howard, the cap space they are attempting to clear could also pave the way for Iguodala to sign. 

Ken Berger of CBSSports explains:

"One person briefed on Golden State's cap-clearing efforts told CBSSports.com that the team is intent on clearing room regardless of Howard's decision. If Howard says no to Golden State, the Warriors are expected to use the room -- if successful in moving contracts -- to chase another max-level free agent such as Denver forward Andre Iguodala, the person said."

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Atlanta Hawks

The key to landing Dwight Howard in Atlanta will be keeping Josh Smith a Hawk. 

The Hawks also have a slight advantage in that Atlanta is home for Howard. He played High School basketball at Southwest Christian Academy until he was taken first overall in 2004. 

While the other four teams in the running have a solid foundation as potential championship contenders, the Hawks do not. They have Al Horford signed until 2015-16, are reported to be signing perimeter shooter Kyle Korver to a four-year deal and have Lou Williams for two more seasons at least. 

If they can re-sign Josh Smith along with keeping restricted free-agent Jeff Teague, there is the beginning of a championship contending team. It may take a few more years, and a few more deals to happen, but Atlanta would be well on their way if they can land the big man. 

Danny Ferry has in idea for the future:

"We're in the process of working to build a better image, a better program," Ferry said. "I'm confident players will want to come to Atlanta. This is a city where players like to play -- because they like to live here. But we are going to make it a great place to play. The players will know that we're going to invest in making it championship-caliber team, on and off the court."

Is Howard willing to wait a few more years so he can be close to his family and friends again? 

Lots of factors to consider before his decision is made.
11:14am EST | Jul 05
Golden State Warriors

The Warriors are a surprise on this list for many reasons. The team is predominantly reliant on long-range shooting from Curry and Thompson. Andrew Bogut and David Lee are integral to their success, but are secondary options. 

Howard already played in a similar system in Orlando, where he had many successful years, but it wasn't his ideal scenario. 

Reports have indicated that Golden State did a good job of "making an impression" on Howard to the point where he is considering the move. 

Details of the pitch are vague, but we do know it included owner Joe Lacob, coach Mark Jackson, general manager Bob Myers and special Warriors consultant Jerry West.

There are a couple of hurdles to overcome before this scenario becomes a reality. The Warriors need to make cap space by moving Andrew Bogut ($14 million), Richard Jefferson ($11 million) and Andris Biedrins ($9 million). Not impossible, but difficult to say the least. 

A bigger issue is that the Warriors would have to convince the Lakers, a division rival, to agree to a sign-and-trade deal. Early reports indicate this wouldn't happen unless Harrison Barnes AND Klay Thompson AND a first rounder were packaged. 

While Golden State is a long-shot for many reasons, it would be one of the biggest deals in NBA history with the amount of work that would need to be done to make it happen. 

11:02am EST | Jul 05
Houston Rockets

Houston has been rumored as the most likely destination for Howard before the latest season was even completed. 

Hakeem Olajuwon, who was a part of the Rocket's pitch to Howard, feels the coveted Center will be wearing white and red next season according to an interview he gave to Yahoo! Sports:

"It's an 85 percent chance he ends up in Houston," Olajuwon said Wednesday. "You never know, but after that meeting we had, I feel very comfortable that we have the best chance to get him."

The basis of the pitch was fairly simple: James Harden + Dwight Howard.

"We're going to come to you," Olajuwon said. "You have James Harden there. You have the backcourt. You're going to get the ball. The coach is there knowing we need your presence in the middle. So we were speaking his language. It's what he wanted. So he was so excited."

The Rockets are also looking to bring in Josh Smith, Howard's longtime friend, to make the move even more enticing. Houston has made Jeremy Lin and Omar Asik available to try and clear cap space to bring both players to Texas. 

Once again, the no state tax would be a factor in Howard's decision.
10:46am EST | Jul 05
Dallas Mavericks

Mark Cuban has kept the details of their pitch to Dwight Howard very quiet. The only two people we know for certain that were in attendance were Cuban and Dwight. One would have to assume Dirk Nowitzki would be involved in luring the big man to Dallas, but there are no concrete details. 

What we do know is that Cuban's pitch to any free agents so far has been focused on a two-year rebuild to become a championship contender. This will be Howard's 10th season in the NBA, so his patience in a rebuild scenario might not be there. 

With an aging Nowitzki and O.J. Mayo reportedly being lured to the Bucks, Howard would become the go-to guy in Dallas which as we saw in Orlando, was great for his stats but not his trophy case. 

It seems Cuban would need to bring in a few more pieces to lure Howard. Unless the idea of no state tax in Texas would be enough for the big man to sign with the Mavs.

At this time, there are no reports of the Mavs working on a sign-and-trade option to present to the Lakers.  
10:27am EST | Jul 05
LA Lakers

After landing the big man in August of last year in a three-way deal with the 76ers and Nuggets, the Lakers always knew they would face the possibility of Howard leaving after just one season. 

The details of their pitch to keep Howard in purple and gold has revealed that Kobe Bryant's message to him may actually be the reason for him not to re-sign. 

Via Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo!:

"You need to learn how it's done first, and I can teach you here. You have to learn how it's done. I know how to do it and I've learned from the best – players who have won multiple times over and over. Instead of trying to do things your way, just listen and learn and tweak it, so it fits you."

According to sources close to Howard, this will not help the Lakers in keeping him.

10:14am EST | Jul 05
According to reports from multiple sources, there are five teams in the running for Dwight Howard:

  • LA Lakers
  • Dallas Mavericks
  • Houston Rockets
  • Golden State Warriors
  • Atlanta Hawks

Each team has made their pitch to D12 and are now awaiting the final decision. The interesting development in this situation is that not long ago, the Lakers were reportedly not willing to discuss any sign-and-trade scenarios. Recent reports have indicated that may have changed. 

We'll analyze each of the five teams in the running with details on what they pitched along with any possible trade scenarios. 

Here's a little hint to where he will end up: