Dwight Howard can make more money if he stays with the Lakers, but there's… (Damian Dovarganes / Associated…)
Writers from around the Tribune Co. predict where the Lakers' soon-to-be free agent Dwight Howard will end up next season. Feel free to join the conversation with a comment of your own.
Mike Bresnahan, Los Angeles Times
Within 48 hours of the smoldering wreckage of the Lakers’ season finale, Howard said he deserved “the right to be happy.”
He loves the city of Los Angeles and it makes financial sense for him to return to the Lakers for five years and $118 million (compared to “only” four years and $88 million with anybody else).
But the Lakers flopped this season, and Howard and Kobe Bryant had an awkward relationship.
If money can’t buy happiness, Howard will also seriously consider Dallas, where Mark Cuban has craftily set up the Mavericks to possibly accommodate two maximum-salary players this summer (Chris Paul, are you listening?).
Put the Lakers as the current favorite with Dallas a quickly closing second.
Roger Simmons, Orlando Sentinel
Say goodnight, Gracie. Dwight Howard will not stay with the Lakers.
Why? Because he’s never grown up since being drafted out of high school by the Magic. It’s obvious he can’t handle the pressure of having Kobe in one ear and the L.A. media in the other, both questioning his play and desire.
He’ll want a smaller market similar to Orlando, so that’s why Houston and Dallas make sense.
First, he can be a treated like superstar again with kid gloves, as he was in Orlando. Second, and more important, he’s not going to want to go anywhere with a state income tax.
Sure, he can get max money by signing with Lakers, but he can probably end up with even more money going to a state that doesn’t take part of his take-home pay. There are only two states without income tax that have NBA teams -- Florida and Texas. And he’s not coming back to Florida.
Shandel Richardson, South Florida Sun Sentinel
First, let me say this: Dwight Howard should stay in Los Angeles with the Lakers because it’s the best fit for him.
He should give it time before jumping ship on what could be a contending team next season if Kobe Bryant returns healthy. Another year together could improve their chemistry and we would likely see the team we all expected when Howard signed.
With that said, all signs are pointing toward Howard landing with the Houston Rockets. The Rockets have more than enough cap space to make it happen and this has been in the works since before last season.
Teaming with young stars James Harden and Chandler Parsons could make Houston a major player in the Western Conference. Sadly, the same could be said about the Lakers if Howard stays in Hollywood.
[Updated at 11:53 a.m.:
K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune
Dwight Howard will be playing for the Lakers next season. That's what happens when the league's glitziest franchise invests in you; you can't leave. General manager Mitch Kupchak has made clear he wants to build around Howard and will throw the whole history and legacy angle at him, not to mention millions and millions of dollars.
Plus, the Lakers did play better in the second half of the season with Howard. It's no coincidence that's when Howard started to feel better physically. Howard may be intrigued by possibilities with the Rockets and Mavericks, and the Rockets do resemble a team that most utilizes his strengths -- surrounding him with shooters and a dynamic, scoring guard in James Harden.