The Los Angeles Lakers will have plenty of competition this offseason when they try to re-sign Dwight Howard. There’s a chance the All-Star could go to Texas, as both the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks will be in play for Howard. With James Harden in Houston, Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas and no income tax in the state, the Southwest Division teams are attractive options.
If Howard does decide to leave Los Angeles, though, he might choose to stay in California. A report by the L.A. Daily News lists the Golden State Warriors among the teams that Howard will consider joining. A source tells the publication that Howard will test free agency and will go to the place that gives him the best chance of winning a championship.
It might be hard for Howard to find a better situation than the one in Golden State. The Warriors have a core of young, talented players that may be one player away from making a serious run to the NBA Finals. Without Howard, the team took the San Antonio Spurs to six games in the second round of the 2013 NBA playoffs. In the first round, they upset the Denver Nuggets, who won 57 games in the regular season.
Howard might very well be the missing piece that the Warriors need on their roster. The club’s backcourt of Stephen Curry and Clay Thompson has already been described as one of the best shooting tandem in league history. In the playoffs, Curry emerged as an elite player, showing that he can become one of the top scorers in the league. Along with David Lee, who averaged 18.5 points per game, the Warriors are one of the toughest offenses to contain in basketball.
At center, Howard would provide a defensive presence, as well as a threat around the basket that Golden State lacks. The Warriors have Andrew Bogut under contract for one more season, but he’s a very tradeable asset. He’s set to make $14 million in 2013-2014, but his expiring deal makes him a valuable commodity.
With the Lakers, Howard is also surrounded by an elite scoring guard in Kobe Bryant and a dangerous power forward in Pau Gasol. The Warriors stars, however, have a much brighter future than that of the Lakers. The Warriors have just two players that are over 30 years old, while the Lakers have seven such players. The Warriors also have a good, young head coach in Mark Jackson, compared to the Lakers’ Mike D’Antoni, who didn’t mesh with Howard all season.
Golden State will have the salary cap flexibility to offer Howard a max contract, but they won’t be able to match the Lakers. L.A. will be allowed to give the center $118 million over five years, while he can only get $87.6 million over four years from the Warriors. If money is Howard’s top priority, he will remain with the Lakers. If his main objective is winning, he could be intrigued by a move to the Bay Area.