The biggest free agent in this draft, Dwight Howard, has left Los Angeles. Not the Lakers, but the city, and the state of California, in order to find someplace a little bit more tranquil and more fitting for the thought process he needs to go through, making up his mind on his next NBA team (Houston Rockets? Dallas Mavericks? Golden State Warriors? Atlanta Hawks? Or staying with the Lakers?), while the league anxiously awaits.
Because so many teams are involved in what will become a maximum four-year deal (or five, if he stays with the Lakers), it seems that the really big moves of free agency, like for Josh Smith and Andre Iguodala, both of whom will be commanding contracts worth more than $10 million a season, are on hold, until Howard makes up his mind. Because for every team that is in line to try and sign him, there’s a web of strings attached to certain players others are interested in, creating a huge traffic jam of free agency.
Like the Hawks, who have Josh Smith, not knowing if to re-sign him or not. Josh Smith has been mentioned as someone who might play together with Howard next season, either for the Hawks or for the Rockets, which would cause a chain reaction of trades by Houston, but also leave a team like Atlanta with around $30 million in cap space and without much to do with it.
And Smith is an option for the Celtics, Bucks and Pistons, and so is Andre Iguodala. That’s before we mention someone like Monta Ellis, who might re-sign with the Bucks, but is most likely going to play for a different team, just like Brandon Jennings, with the Dallas Mavericks looking like a prime destination.
There are also the Lakers themselves, who even if they won’t re-sign Dwight Howard, are in cap-space hell at the moment, among other problems. And the Golden State Warriors, willing to trade away their two best big men (Bogut and Lee) if there’s a chance Howard agrees to move to Northern California, while the Lakers need to agree to a sign & trade.
Complicated? Not that complicated. But teams need Howard to decide, so they can get the ball rolling on other deals, which seem to all be hiding in the shadow of Howard, who is probably enjoying all of this attention after not going through the best of seasons in his debut (and possibly only) season with the Los Angeles Lakers.