Thursday 19 October 2017 / 03:54 AM

NBA FREE AGENCY FOCUS: DWIGHT HOWARD

With the NBA salary cap moving from its previous $70 million high to a projected $94 million, many players are opting out of their contracts to make more money in the 2016-2017 season.

With Dwight Howard and Kevin Durant looming on the free agent market, there are some serious changes that could possibly happen. The two of them ending up on the same team, provided they take a significant pay cut in what they could earn under the higher salary cap, could be a lethal combination.

Dwight Howard is an interesting free agent, as his previous uninspiring seasons with the Lakers and Rockets seem to have cooled off his demand in the market. Let’s not forget Howard is an eight-time All-Star and three-time Defensive Player of the Year. This lack of interest is exactly what a young team such as the Boston Celtics or Atlanta Hawks need to land the big man.

The Rockets center is looking to lock down a contract starting at $24 million a season. He is expected to meet with the Hawks and Celtics. As an athletic center at 6’11 with the scoring ability of a power forward, Howard could be the missing link to turn an average team into a playoff-caliber team.

At 30 years old, he still has several years left in the tank. Drafted straight out of high school in 2004, Howard has had three to four extra years of experience over the average NBA player. He was drafted by the Orlando Magic, where he earned his stripes as an All-Star. He would then anti-climactically join Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant on the Lakers roster in 2012-2013 and finish with the lowest scoring average of his career.

Howard would blame Kobe for shooting too much and not getting the ball enough, which, well, if you’ve followed Kobe’s way of playing you’d understand. Howard became a free agent that summer and had the option of signing a five-year contract with the Lakers for $118 million at $23.6 million a year, or a four-year contract for $88 million at $22 million a year. Howard would sign a four-year contract at $87,591,270 with the Houston Rockets from the 2013-2014 season.

Howard sees himself as being the franchise star and primary scorer, whereas the rest of the NBA wants to keep him to play his strengths and stay locked into a defender role. In 2013, Golden State (imagine a Warriors team with Howard), Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets and LA Lakers were fighting tooth and nail to get Howard. It seems that the market has cooled for the big man, but that doesn’t mean he has any less potential to change another team’s season for the better.

Following the lackluster 41-41 season of the Houston Rockets, Howard’s true value has come into question. Team executives speculate that Dwight would probably be worth $10-to-$15 million as a starting salary, which is about half the $31 million max salary he is looking for.

Dwight Howard is almost at that point in his NBA career where he has to seriously consider if he wants a ring or not. Getting locked into a five-year contract with a mediocre team is surely going to land Howard a generous pay day, but his hopes for a championship will slim down.

I like the idea of Howard signing with the explosive and fresh roster of Boston talent, as he will provide the experience of an All-Star, but also spread the floor for the Celtics’ exceptional shooting talent. The Celtics are also attempting to woo Kevin Durant (who isn’t right now?).

The idea of a Celtics team with Kevin Durant and Dwight Howard is scary and would make them an instant Eastern Confernce championship contender – but will the latter be willing to accept the lesser salary required to make the deal a reality.

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About the author

Alex Moskov

Alex has come on board with CBS as our basketball and gridiron expert, providing opinions and analysis from the bright lights of the NBA and NFL.

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