Atlanta, Dallas and Houston will be Howard’s chief suitors when he enters free agency July 1. But the Lakers can offer Howard a five-year contract worth roughly $118 million while every other team in the league can offer him only about $88 million over four years. The extra $30 million means a lot to Howard, sources said, and is definitely a major advantage for the Lakers. With the injuries he’s recently suffered to his back and shoulder, Howard might be less inclined to give up the extra year of security.“I understand, you know, what the Lakers want,” Howard told Smith on Monday of his contract status. “And I also understand that right now, there’s no need for all the circus and all the stuff that happened last year [with Orlando] to start back up. I don’t want it, my team doesn’t need it, I don’t need it, and frankly, our fans don’t need it neither.”Of the Lakers’ three free-agent competitors, Houston appears to be the most favorable for Howard. Dallas is aging, and Howard is not keen on playing in his hometown of Atlanta. Houston, on the other hand, has star guard James Harden and is only a frontcourt star away from becoming a legitimate factor in the Western Conference.While Howard had no interest in going to Houston last season, sources say he is aware the Rockets have become a more attractive destination since acquiring Harden.
The article states that the Lakers have no intent of dealing Howard this season.First, the Rockets must determine if they truly want Howard given his recent physical regression. His skillset does not bode well for a graceful decline.Secondly, if the Rockets still do find Howard alluring, they won’t be pulling the trigger this month on any of the trade targets recently discussed (ie: Josh Smith, Danny Granger).Just this week, I described the Howard/Paul scenario as a ‘pipe dream.’In order, I would rank the Rockets scenario preferences as:A) An acquisition of Howard or Chris Paul this summer.B) A two year stop gap rental until 2014.C) A long term signing of a lower tier star (ie: Josh Smith)D) Staying pat until 2014.