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Center Of Attention: Howard To Houston
Posted By Jabari Davis On July 7, 2013 @ 4:12 pm In NBA | No Comments
The “Dwightmare” has finally come to an end. While nothing can be made official until the NBA’s free agency moratorium ends on July 10, USA Today’s Sam Amick reported that Howard intends to agree in principle with the Houston Rockets. This marks the first time in memory where one of their own big-name free agents has decided to leave the Los Angeles Lakers in favor of a another organization, let alone one of those “small market” teams often discussed during the most recent CBA negotiations.
For a man, working on his third team and fourth coach in three years, that often ‘preaches’ loyalty, this is finally an opportunity for Howard to incorporate just that. Gone, are the opportunities to point the finger, second-guess decisions or look to the horizon for answers. In choosing the Houston Rockets, Howard elected to to embrace the responsibility of not only being a leader, but he now is accountable for being the leader. He has the opportunity, like LeBron James has done over the past three seasons, to silence the demons and doubters. If Howard is truly interested in winning titles, then he will accept the accountability and lead this young, exciting, and promising Rockets group to the Western Conference Finals and beyond.
The Lakers are far from alone in being spurned, as the Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks were also on the list of teams that felt as though they had a reasonable chance at signing the nine-year NBA veteran big man. Perhaps, the Golden State Warriors are just as disappointed as the Lakers, as their front office masterfully moved proverbial mountains by dumping $24 million in the form Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins and Brandon Rush’s contracts, two first-round picks (2014, 2017), and three second- round picks to the Jazz – in exchange for former first-round pick Kevin Murphy.
Unlike the Lakers, the Warriors were not left completely empty-handed, as they were able to clear enough cap space to offer FA swingman Andre Iguodala a four-year contract worth $48 million. For the Lakers, when Howard officially signs with Houston, they are left in quite the quandary. Even without his salary, they are well over the projected 2013-14 salary cap of $58-60 million. With just over $77 million tied up in eight players, they remain so far over the salary cap that the full mid-level exception is not an option. Howard’s exodus not only places a serious hold on their future plans, but leaves them in a position of still potentially having to decide between amnestying Pau Gasol ($19.3 million), Metta World Peace ($7.7 million), and Steve Blake (4 million). The final year of Kobe Bryant’s $30 million contract is also technically an option, but isn’t a fathomable option, especially with Howard on the move. Bryant has been the face of the franchise for over a decade, and depending upon how they fare in the summer of 2014, will likely remain so until he hangs up his personalized Nike’s.
With about 1/6th of the league awaiting Howard’s decision in order to be able to act, a flurry of deals and action should be expected. Beyond Golden State’s acquisition of Iguodala and Howard’s reported decision, here are a plethora of additional moves from around the league:
Tyreke Evans, Greivis Vasquez, Robin Lopez- According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, a three-team deal involving the Pelicans, Kings, and Blazers will send Evans to New Orleans. Vasquez would be heading to Sacarmento, while Lopez is reportedly on his way to Portland. Like signings, trades cannot be finalized until Wednesday, July 10.
Carl Landry has reportedly agreed in principle to a four-year, $27 million deal with the Sacramento Kings.
Al Jefferson has reportedly agreed in principle with the Charlotte Bobcats. While the exact terms of the contract have not been disclosed, it is believed to be a three-year deal worth an estimated $41 million.
Jarrett Jack has reportedly agreed in principle to a four-year, $25 million deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
J.R. Smith has reportedly agreed in principle to re-sign with the New York Knicks in what will be a four-year, $24.7 million deal.
Andrew Bynum is reportedly being “cautiously pursued” by the Dallas Mavericks pending medical examinations (knees).
Jose Calderon has reportedly agreed in principle with the Dallas Mavericks on what will be a four-year, $29 million deal.
Devin Harris has reportedly agreed in principle to a three-year, $9 million deal with the Mavericks.
Marco Bellineli has reportedly agreed in principle with the San Antonio Spurs on what will be a two-year, $5.6 million deal.
Matt Barnes has reportedly agreed in principle to re-sign with the Los Angeles Clippers. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but according to ESPN, it is believed to be worth $11-12 million.
O.J. Mayo has reportedly agreed in principle to sign with the Milwaukee Bucks on what will be a three-year, $24 million contract.
ZaZa Pachulia has reportedly agreed in principle to a three-year, $16 million deal with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Josh McRoberts has reportedly agreed in principle to re-sign with the Charlotte Bobcats on a two-year, $5.5 million contract.
Darren Collison has reportedly agreed in principle to a two-year deal worth $1.9 million with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Ryan Hollins has reportedly agreed in principle to re-sign with the Los Angeles Clippers on a one-year contract at the veteran’s minimum.
Again, with so many teams awaiting the Howard decision, namely the Lakers, don’t be shocked by myriad deals and agreements over the next few days and beyond. None of these signings and deals can be made official until July 10th, but this has already been one of the more active offseasons in recent years. It seems as though the league is split into thirds: 1/3 trying to compete with and dethrone the two-time defending champion Miami Heat, 1/3 looking to get under the cap as much as possible for the free agent class of 2014, and 1/3 looking to get into the lottery for the 2014 draft in order to compete for the services of young prospects like Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins or even Duke’s Jabari Parker.
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