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Dwight Howard Free Agency Watch: Part 1

  • At this point, by any logical vantage point, I just don’t see how the Houston Rockets aren’t the frontrunners to land Dwight Howard.  The oncourt personnel advantage has already been beaten to death and is unanimously accepted.  But now, it’s even made its way into the conventional wisdom that Howard would actually stand to net more from a deal with Houston than he would by re-upping with L.A.  Forbes explains, factoring in both the jock tax and state income tax, that Howard would take home $8million more in a four-year deal with Houston than in a similar duration with the Lakers, arguing that Howard would  likely opt out of a Laker deal prior to the 5th year to seek yet another max deal.
  • What isn’t mentioned, however, is that a) Howard would earn more in a second max with the Lakers because of the higher gross value of that initial contract and b) the likelihood of Howard being even worth the max at age 31.  As to point B, while I don’t think Dwight Howard will command a full max at age 31, I’m not concerned because the relevant point is not whether he will but rather whether he today thinks that he will.  Because most athletes suffer from overconfidence bias, it’s likely that Howard truly believes he will stand to command yet another full max contract in the latter stages of his career.

  • L.A.’s sole selling point seems to be legacy and sense of entitlement, a seeming gesture that “we’re the Lakers and we’ll always get things back on track.”  While there are a thousand reasons to think that this is the beginning of a drought for the Lakers, it may very well be the case that if Dwight stays, they will build it.  But for the Rockets, if he comes, it is already built.  There are no ifs or uncertainties.  Dwight would join a cast ready-made for contention with characters primed for the better stages of their careers.  Does a 27 year-old Dwight Howard really want to waste yet another season waiting for Kobe Bryant to recover or for a miraculous Lebron pairing?  It’s been said that with Bryant gone, Howard can now “be the man” and have L.A. to himself.  But isn’t that what he fled from in Orlando?  I think what he wants is to win.
  • The scenario that scares me is Jim Buss conceding power with Phil Jackson riding in on the white horse.
  • Lastly, I’ve been listening to a lot of sportsradio during my commute these past few weeks and what fascinates/stupefies me is the inordinately large amount of people who call into the shows to voice their displeasure over the Rockets’ pursuit of Howard.  The sentiment is literally baffling.  He’s unlikable, yes.  Quite frankly, I find him to be the most irritating, immature personality in basketball.  And he has his risks and warts.  But there’s only one Tim Duncan (i.e. “perfect human being”).  For everyone else, you weigh the risks and proceed when you have the opportunity.  I have to wonder, for these people who don’t want Howard, whom exactly are they hoping for?

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