NBA PM: Dwight Howard and the Warriors?
In the weeks leading up to July 1, Dwight Howard sat down with members of his camp and decided which teams he would meet with when he became an unrestricted free agent.
The Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks would obviously be in the mix as potential suitors, but there were a few dark-horse franchises that received consideration as well.
The San Antonio Spurs were competing in the NBA Finals at the time, and they were discussed as an option since they would have the necessary cap space to offer a maximum contract this summer. This was news to Howard and the situation initially intrigued the big man, who has made it clear that his goal is to be part of a perennial contender. However, the Spurs wanted to keep their Finals core together, including re-signing center Tiago Splitter, and they weren’t interested enough to warrant a meeting.
The Brooklyn Nets were mentioned as a possibility, especially once Nets general manager Billy King and owner Mikhail Prokhorov expressed interest in a sign-and-trade to Howard’s camp. However, landing in Brooklyn would be easier said than done for Howard since they already had $84,445,148 guaranteed to players for the 2013-14 season and they would have to be under the apron amount after the transaction for Howard. They were ruled out since the deal would’ve been too complex. The Nets moved on, pulling the trigger on the deal with the Boston Celtics that netted Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry.
Then, there was the Golden State Warriors.
Howard had watched their upset of the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs and their hard-fought series against the Spurs in the Western Conference Semifinals. He was impressed by the electrifying team that was led by Stephen Curry.
The Warriors had expressed interest in Howard before, and he decided to give them a chance to make their pitch. He believed that their best basketball was ahead of them and that they were only a piece away from contending. The fact that they had plenty of young assets to offer in a potential sign-and-trade – such as Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes – also made them an interesting possibility. They were one of five teams that received a meeting with Howard and the only one that didn’t have the space to sign the big man outright, showing just how far they’ve come as a franchise in recent years.
Howard met with the Warriors on Tuesday, hearing from Curry, Mark Jackson, Bob Myers and Joe Lacob among others. They delivered a strong pitch and got Howard’s attention. The situation is attractive because Howard could dominate the paint and be surrounded by shooters, just as he was with the Orlando Magic when they were contending in the Eastern Conference several years ago. Golden State’s youth also interested Howard, since the team would continue to grow and improve in the coming years.
While the Warriors did everything right in their pursuit of Howard, they’re still a long shot to acquire the 27-year-old. Golden State has $68,995,902 committed in guaranteed money for next season, which means they can’t land Howard unless the Lakers decide to facilitate a sign-and-trade. While some would argue that landing a talented young player like Thompson or Barnes is better than losing Howard for nothing, the Lakers have been adamant that they’ll either re-sign Howard or let him walk. This is understandable, especially since the Warriors are in the same division (and state) as the Lakers.
Even though it’s unlikely the Warriors will land Howard, they can celebrate the progress they have made as a franchise. Gone are the days when Golden State was a bottom feeder that couldn’t add free agents without significantly overpaying them. Superstars are genuinely interested in joining this exciting young Warriors team and giving them the time of day to make their case.
After the Warriors met with Howard, they shifted their attention to other top-tier free agents such as Josh Smith and Andre Iguodala, hoping to swing for the fences again and land one of these star players in a similar sign-and-trade (although one that doesn’t involve Thompson – he’s only getting moved for a superstar).
The Warriors may not land Howard, but the organization should still be pleased with how far they’ve come and excited for what the future holds.
Bryant Challenged Howard During Lakers’ Meeting?
As the Los Angeles Lakers tried to persuade Dwight Howard to re-sign with the team, they put up billboards and sent out affectionate tweets. Mitch Kupchak, Jeanie Buss and Steve Nash delivered messages that showed Howard just how much they cared about him. The Lakers understand that Howard can be sensitive, and they wanted to be careful about how they handled their recruitment.
Well, Kobe Bryant didn’t get the message.
In the Lakers’ meeting with Howard, Bryant decided to try a different technique. Rather than coddling Howard, as most have done throughout this process, he challenged Howard.
“You need to learn how it’s done first, and I can teach you here,” Bryant told Howard during the Lakers’ presentation, according to Yahoo! Sports. “You have to learn how it’s done. I know how to do it and I’ve learned from the best – players who have won multiple times over and over. Instead of trying to do things your way, just listen and learn and tweak it, so it fits you.”
Bryant repeatedly told Howard that he needs to “learn how it’s done” throughout the meeting, a condescending message that Howard likely didn’t take well.
The relationship between Bryant and Howard has always been rocky, since both players see the world very differently but both want to be the alpha male.
It remains to be seen how Howard responds to Bryant challenge. The center is currently in Colorado mulling over his free agency options.