Dwight Howard reportedly added the Golden State Warriors to his list of teams he will consider during his free agency. According to Mark Medina of the Long Beach Press-Telegram, Howard’s potential destinations include the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Howard struggled through a back injury and torn-labrum, but appeared to approach his typical elite level of play towards the end of the season, and is still considered to be one of the top centers in the NBA.
Howard’s path to the Warriors is less simple than to the other team’s on his list. With minor moves, the Hawks, Rockets and Mavericks could free sufficient cap space to offer him a four-year max contract. The Lakers have Howard’s Bird Rights, and can thus re-sign him regardless of salary cap limitations.
The Warriors are already far above the salary cap, and could only obtain Howard through a sign and trade. Their interest in such a move, and thus the pieces involved, is unknown. Trading for Howard would most likely require the Warriors to surrender one of Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson, possibly both, and players with higher salaries such as David Lee, Andrew Bogut, Richard Jefferson or Andris Biedrins.
Bird Rights play another significant role in the Howard sweepstakes. The Los Angeles Lakers are able to offer Howard a fifth max salary year on the contract. Given Howard’s recent injury issues, a fifth year of guaranteed salary may affect his decision.
Howard is not known for overly logical demands, and while a trade to Golden State may be unlikely, the Warriors are not generally considered a free-agent destination for “superstars.” Howard’s targeting of the Warriors further enhances the belief that the Warriors are on the rise as a popular destination.