The Lakers can offer free agent Dwight Howard the most money -- $118 million… (Harry How / Getty Images )
At some point soon Dwight Howard will make his decision, choosing where to take his talents.
Some of the league's most historic big men have forced their way onto the Lakers -- Howard seems to be on the verge of walking away.
If he doesn't end up with the Houston Rockets, the Dallas Mavericks may have a better chance than the Lakers.
"I'll do what's going to be best for myself, what's going to make me happy," said Howard in April after the team's four-game sweep by the San Antonio Spurs.
Shaquille O'Neal, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and even Pau Gasol all found a way to the Lakers -- winning 11 rings combined in Los Angeles.
"I can't control who likes me, who dislikes me, but I have the right to be happy," Howard said.
Happiness is a subjective and while the Lakers can pay Howard the most ($118 million over five years), money is just money. The veteran center was miserable through his one year with the team.
"This was a tough season for everybody. It was really like a nightmare," Howard said. "Every game it felt like a struggle for us."
The young talent on the Houston roster looks like a much happier situation. Stepping outside of Kobe Bryant's shadow might be a relief -- the burden of expectations lightened.
Howard doesn't dislike Bryant. He doesn't dislike Coach Mike D'Antoni. Did he enjoy playing with and for them this last year? No, he did not.
Is there a specific reason he's likely to leave? Did the Lakers make some calculated misstep along the way? Perhaps -- but Howard did everything he could to force a trade to the Brooklyn Nets over the Lakers before this saga began.
Howard may find happiness elsewhere, or not, but the greener grass may hold sway.
He might even return to the Lakers after some deep soul searching -- it just doesn't seem that way.
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Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.