Dwight Howard will have an enormous decision to make once the 2012-13 season is over. He’s an unrestricted free agent, meaning he can choose to sign with any team he wants. It’s not as simple as re-signing with the Los Angeles Lakers. In fact, he should take his talents to Dallas and bring some friends with him.
One of Howard’s greatest assets right now is his age. He’ll be 27 years old and right in the middle of his prime. He’s not in a position where his window of opportunity is closing. The Lakers as a team are in that position with Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace in the twilight of their careers.
Because of the salaries involved, the Lakers are stymied and wouldn’t be able to improve the team beyond what they already have. They have a quality squad, but they are flawed. Premiere defenders and excellent bench players don’t come at the minimum salary.
Money isn’t, won’t and shouldn’t be a factor in Hoaward’s decision. He could get an extra year by staying in Los Angeles, but that could simply be temporary. He could end up with the same amount starting his next contract, so It’s not a sure thing that he’d be giving up the money by leaving Los Angeles.
The Dallas Mavericks can offer a very attractive package for Howard if he chooses to sign with them. He’ll get close to the same amount of money and fame as he’d get in Los Angeles, but there’s a major difference. The window of opportunity as a team would be much greater.
If all player options are picked up, the Mavericks have approximately $41.9 million in salaries in 2013-14 and just $2.2 million in 2014-15. That’s a massive amount of cap space and flexibility for an owner in Mark Cuban that will do whatever it takes to win.
By 2014-15, the Mavericks could put together three stars without Nowitzki or could even get three stars with Nowitzki, if he was willing to give the Mavericks a home discount.
This gives Howard and the Mavericks three or four solid years with a young team. The Lakers simply can’t compete with that. At best, the Lakers have a one-year window after the 2012-13 season.
The Lakers still have the inside track and are the favorites to re-sign Howard. He doesn’t have to be the focal point, he can play for the great Lakers’ franchise and gets to play for a coach in Mike D’Antoni that is known as a player-friendly leader.
It would be a major coup for Cuban to steal Howard away, but it would be better for Howard’s career in the long-term. The possibility of winning one championship and rebuilding is what’s waiting for him in Los Angeles.
Originally written by HoopsHabit for Bleacher Report
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